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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129 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Cristy

    I find 60 days to be unreasonable for the same reasons many others have posted. 60 days requires that the tenant must secure another dwelling at least 2 months in advance. It is nearly impossible to find another place/landlord who will wait 60+ days for you to move in. Most listings are available immediately or within 1 month. 30 days is plenty because the owner should take at least 1 week to clean the home anyway regardless of notice. That provides at least 37 days. Sorry, but this should be an understood and expected loss/risk when leasing your property. You may have to cover a month or so on your own as the landlord when a tenant vacates. The 60 day notice is essentially a trap for your tenant unless they are purchasing a home.

    • Christina Johnson

      I totally agree Cristy. This is a trap how these rental company’s and folks that lease get more money by requiring 60 days notice. 30 days is sufficient and a written notice by the tenant. A company shouldn’t require their form either to be filled out, which might be required by a rental company. That shouldn’t be required, if it is then it needs to be attached to a renewal lease if it’s imperative to fill out. I think all the rights are in favor of the landlords and not the tenants. I think contract laws need to be more defined when it comes to leasing.

    • Tam

      I completely agree. They can toss you out within days but you can’t leave after a lease has expired. That helps the horrible incompetent landlord force you to stay. If your place is that Great you should be able to rent it to the next person with no problem.

  • Dan Hunter

    Hi Vanessa, You need to go back to the lawyer that negotiated the original extension of lease and let him negotiate another extension. Don’t forget to pay him for the first extension or he might refuse your business for negotiating second extension.

  • James J

    Isn’t this illegal in California? Here I heard that tenants have to give a 30 day notice (on a month to month) and even a signed agreement for longer, makes it invalid. Please let me know. This has been coming up lately as a tenant of mine gave me a 30 day when we agreed for a 60 day and now he is telling me that he is in his rights.

  • ARIEL

    My apartments are requiring a 60 day move out notice. The lease also states that because they require 60 days, they are supposed to send 1 written reminder about the move out notice or a 30 day notice is required. The only thing they provided us with is a renewal letter with no moving out instructions anywhere. They didn’t mention the 60 days or that if we don’t renew we have to fill out a Intent to move document even after i verbally stated we was not renewing, still no one mentioned it. Now they are trying to say the renewal letter was to serve as move out notice even though the lease specifically states they are to send a reminder about moving out procedures, not renewing. Can they do this? They want us to pay $2500 month to month :(

    • Denise Chavis Clements

      This 60 day notice is not fair at all.

      • Ariel

        I pressed them really hard and we had the matter taken to corporate after the property managers got really nasty with me. And for the price we pay to live in this building, that was UNACCEPTABLE! Corporate decided in our favor and granted us a 30 move out notice. Definitely will triple check all in the future to avoid falling in their trap to make money!

  • Jessica DeAnne Chaney

    Why would u require a notice especially 60days. U may be able to put it in the lease but surly it’s not enfoceable? When the lease is up the lease is up. I should not have to worry about giving any notice but be nice and give u a 30. U need to clean the home do repairs etc so when they don’t sigh the lease u begin looking for tenant.

  • Karl Nester

    My lease expires 8/31/19 and will auto renew at that time unless I give a 60 day notice. The landlord sent an email in February asking if I would like to renew the lease. At that time I said I would like to renew but before signing anything official there are a few issues I would like resolved. Emails went back and for about how they would be resolved but I never signed anything official. I have since decided to terminate they lease before the 60 days. The landlord says I cannot I am in a lease renewal. Can I still terminate?

  • Marcia Denham

    I live in a roach infested apt after waiting at least 3 years for the apt I love section 8 requires me to give my current apt 60 day notice so I might loose the new apt very upsetting

  • eric

    I wonder if you’ve ever had to go to court over that 60 days, and if you were able to actually win. While that 60 days is certainly beneficial to the landlord, it is obviously at conflict with the lease itself, since the lease is already providing you notification that the tenant will be moving.

  • Lin Edwards

    How is this legal? I am 48 days until the end of my lease agreement. I just found out that my apartment building requires a 60 day notice to vacate or they will begin automatically charging $100 per day. They told me that if I give the 60 day notice they will only charge me $1,200 for the additional rent (stating that I HAVE to complete a full 60-day notice). Colorado State Law does not ratify this contract in the first place. C.R.S. 13-40-107, (4) No notice to quit shall be necessary from or to a tenant whose term is, by agreement, to end at a time certain.
    I sent that to management and they told me that the Fair Housing Act requires them to use the same contract in CO that they use in CA… I think I’m going to have to take this to court.

  • JP

    60 DAY NOTICE is just that: a NOTICE! Tenants generally know if they will be staying or moving well in advance of the termination of their Lease. It’s no hardship for a Tenant to alert the Landlord of their intentions whether it’s 30 days before moving, renewing or going month-to-month or 60 days before moving, renewing or going month-to-month. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand plain language.

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