Tip #52

Require Your Tenants to Give 60 Days Notice of Non-renewal

Written on June 11, 2015 by

Non-renewalLease renewal is a touchy subject, and in my opinion, it should never be guaranteed.

Some landlords prefer an automatic renewal approach, and even sometimes, the tenant is given a “guaranteed” renewal option. No thank you.

I never know what the future holds, and I need to keep my options open. I prefer not to be tied down like that.

None of my leases have automatic renewals, but I do require my tenants to give 60 days notice of non-renewal. Basically, I’m saying:

“If you plan on leaving when your lease is up, you have give me 60 days notice.”

It’s a great tactic that has reduced my vacancy to near zero, and saved me lots of time and money over the years.

Don’t Give a Guaranteed Renewal

guaranteed-renewals

If I get a bad tenant, the worst possible outcome is for them to have the “right” to renew at the same price. Meaning, they can renew, under the same terms, even if I don’t want them too.

Some inexperienced landlords have this clause in their lease, but I think it’s a horrible mistake. When signing a fixed-term lease, I never guarantee an option to renew.

Why in the world would I tie my hands like that?

When reviewing the lease with my applicants, about half of them ask “Will I be able to renew?”.

I always answer the same way:

“If you’re a good tenant, and I don’t have any other plans for the house, then of course I’ll give you a renewal offer. But we’ll need to work it out when the time comes. If you want to guarantee your tenancy for a longer term, we’ll need to sign a longer lease.”

To the best of my knowledge (although I’m not a lawyer), no state requires a landlord to renew a fixed-term lease. It would defeat the point of having a fixed end date. Although some tenant-friendly cities, like Washington D.C., give the tenant the right to go month-to-month after a fixed-term lease, with the same terms.

Further, many rent-controlled cities in California, say that a landlord can only terminate a tenancy for a variety of reasons, and no-cause terminations are easy fought.

What About Automatic Renewals?

An automatic lease renewal is ideal for at-will tenancies, such as week-to-week, month-to-month, or year-to-year. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate for a fixed-term lease (a lease with a set end date).

With that said, just because a lease automatically renews, doesn’t mean either party can’t terminate it with proper notice.

Automatic renewals have some negative consequences on a fixed-term lease:

  • The manager won’t visit the property as often
  • The landlord will forget about the renewal and miss an opportunity to raise the rent
  • Many tenants forget about the date too, and then want to abandon their lease at a later time

60 Day Notice of Non-Renewal

None of my fixed-term leases automatically renew, however I still require a tenant to give me 60 days notice, prior to the lease end date, of their intent to move out.

Meaning, the assumption is that they will be renewing (assuming the rent doesn’t go up too much), even though the lease doesn’t automatically renew.

It just means that we need to sign a new lease if they want to stay.

My Lease Clause

The Main Benefit

The reason for this requirement is that it guarantees I have 60 days to try to find a new tenant. If the tenant fails to provide 60 days notice of non-renewal, they will still be held responsible for 60 days of rent, unless I can find a replacement sooner.

For example, if the lease is scheduled to end on June 30, then they must give me notice by April 30th of their intent to vacate when the lease ends. If they don’t give me notice until May 15th, then I can hold them responsible for rent through July 14th (60 days), if I don’t find a replacement tenant prior to that.

Always Send a Reminder

Because this 60-day requirement is unusual, I try to remind my tenants of their 60 day responsibility at 70-75 days from the end of the lease – so that they can start thinking about their options.

If I plan to offer them a renewal agreement, I will send the new terms to them with this reminder. After all, how can they be expected to make a decision if they don’t know what the rent price will be?

This is my renewal reminder email:

In summary, be fair, be logical, and give them a renewal offer before the 60 day deadline. If you refuse to offer a renewal, then tell them so. Let them know that they must move-out when the lease is up. The more time they have to plan, the less risk there is of an unlawful detainer.

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68 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Beth

    I live in VA. My landlord advised me in June that the lease ending on 9/30/17 would not be renewed because the owner will be moving back into the home. My dilemma is knowing this information way in advance and trying to find property that will wait for 9/30/17 move in date. Impossible. I finally found a property that will allow August move in which is one month early to end of lease. I advised my landlord of the dilemma and requested to be released so that I don’t keep losing properties and possibly end up with no where to stay come 9/30/17. The landlord stated that the lease ends 9/30/17 and I would be responsible still for August (I am paying) and September (house vacant). Landlord also has 2 months deposit from me. Do I have rights?

    • Dan Hunter

      Hi Beth, Because the laws vary from state to state you will need to consult an attorney that is licensed to practice in the state of Virginia. I’m not an attorney but generally speaking, you are bound by that lease until it matures. You’re stuck ! If this were my problem I would wait until 30 days prior to the end of the lease and start shopping for another abode. Good luck.

  • Glenda Kimble

    I’ve in this community for 21 years. I sign 60 date notice. They rental 90 dollare every year. Not Abe to get a new that will hold a place for 60 days. Am I bound to the 60 contract. Live in California. 😨

    • Dan Hunter

      Glenda your English is not clear enough for us to give you an accurate answer. Can you get somebody to help you and send your question again ? We don’t want to misunderstand your message and give you an incorrect answer.

  • Marissa Quintero

    I’m worried about my landlord not giving me my deposit back I only gave him a 10-day notice and I feel that he should be giving me my full deposit back since I am not signing a new lease which is going to end August 31st 2017. My plan was not to move and sign my lease but something came up life-and-death which I have to be upon my family side. I believe my landlord should give me my full deposit back if I’ve been here for three years & the apartment looks great with no damages. Someone help I need answers

    • Dan Hunter

      If this were my problem I would sue the landlord in small claims court and see what happens. However I would not really expect to win the case but it all depends on the judge.

  • Ron

    There’s reasonable extenuating circumstance why I need over 30 days notice of departure from a tenant here in the large California house that I live in.

    I demand 30+ days but under 60 days notice. My written agreement stipulates a full calendar months notice (EG the month of January) so its 30 to 60 days notice, depending on what day of the month notice is given.
    California rental laws say 30 days notice must be given. A renter now insists that our agreement is “illegal” because it differs from California statute (even though I told them that before they agreed to my terms).

    Does the 30 day California statute mean my agreement is unlawful and unenforceable in court, or does my written rental agreement take precedence please? Urgent

    • Dan Hunter

      Ron, the law certainly supersedes what you or I say. If we agree that you can deal drugs out of my unit, one or both of us will still go to prison.

      • Ron

        [part 1 of 3]
        Thank you so much for your prompt reply Dan!

        Of course Criminal laws take precedence over Civil agreements between anyone.

        But we’re discussing civil statutes which (in 1988 in his court) a judge told me “don’t carry the same weight, and when the tenant shares the home with their landlord, the agreement can trump the statute because the small claims
        judge (in this circumstance) can do whatever they think is fair because:

        When Sacramento lawmakers wrote those rental laws they only debated the pros and cons of renting unfurnished apartments. When they’d finished writing all the laws, someone said, what do we do when the tenant shares the landlords home with them?
        cont…

        • Ron

          …cont.. Part 2 of 3
          They acknowledged the many differences* but said they didn’t have time to write a whole new set of laws, so throw it in with apartment rentals, and memo the judges to make whatever rulings they think is fair, even if they contradict the statutes.
          *One of several examples he gave was; if a tenant leaves his apartment windows open he risks losing his valuables in a burglary, but in his landlords home he risks his landlords valuables, hence it would be fair for the landlord to enter to lock windows or other emergencies without giving days written notice.
          cont…

          • Ron

            …cont.. part 3 of 3

            Most people don’t know this, including some judges and most lawyers (who can’t do small claims).
            My question Dan or to anyone is, please please how do I get evidence of this to show a judge?
            I only know the year, court and plaintiffs name of my 1988 case. Would love to contact that judge?

            In 35 years I’ve been sued thrice, always this issue, won twice, lost once, but another’s pending immediately.
            Many thanks, Ron

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