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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85 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

  • Rus Southwood

    I’m in Oklahoma. My 3 month lease expires in a little over 60 days, and I intend to move out. I have seen opinions that the end of a non-renewing lease is in itself notice. However, in the past I’ve always given 30 days notice, even at the official end of a lease. My current lease states I need to give 60 days notice. State law in Oklahoma says 30 days, in the case of breaking a lease, but I am not breaking it, I am fulfilling it tot he official end date. Am I legally required to give 60 days notice, even if this conflicts with state law?

    • Dan Hunter

      Hi Rus, I’m not a lawyer but if this were my problem I would give the 60 days notice commensurate with the agreement in hopes of staying out of court. If you gave 30 days notice you might win in court but who wants to go to court ?

  • Anonymous

    I’m a tenant in Houston, TX. I gave 60 days notice to my landloard and on the form it asked for move out date. I had originally written that I’d move out in 30 days, but a week later I found I needed to change that. The landlord said it was too late because they had some one moving in after 30 days, but yet they are still going to charge me the full amount for 60 days. Morally I think that’s not right, but what about legally?

    • Dan Hunter

      Hi Anonymous, I’m not a lawyer but the landlord has mitigated his damages (which is required in a lot of states) by renting out the unit. His desire to collect double rent on the unit is not realistic. I.E. : Rent from the new tenant along with rent from you for the same rental period is not fair. If you have to sue in small claims court I would guess that you have a 95% chance of winning the case. Good Luck !!

  • Rita

    My lease ends on January 31, 2018 and the 60 day notice requirement is effective on December 1, 2017. I have not received a renewal offer even though I have inquired about it verbally and in person. I was given a renewal offer of a rent increase last year at least 20 days before 60 day notice requirement became affective. If there are any changes this year I will not have ample time to dispute or make a quick decision especially if any changes are not favorable to me. The rental office is aware that I will be away for at least 30 days which will also impact the amount of time I will have if I need to move. I am a disabled senior Section 8 voucher holder and it is very hard to find a landlord who will accept my voucher amount for a 1 bedroom

    • Dan Hunter

      Exactly what is your question Rita ?

      • Rita

        I am due to go on vacation December 2, 2017. If I do not get my renewal papers soon and there are changes and I am not in agreement, then I will not have time to debate it and will be forced to have to move or except the changes if I want to stay since I have to give at least a 60 day notice if I am going to move. This would not be a win win situation for me but a very stressful one. Trying to find someone that will rent to me and having the money to move will be very difficult and costly. If I had more income it would not be an issue; however, I am on a fixed income and it is an issue when searching for suitable housing for rent. You stated, “That giving tenants an early heads up would be the right thing to do.” Any suggestions for me?

  • Tay

    My lease ends January 31st, 2018. I’ve tried to give the proper 60-day notice to vacate, however, my roommate refused to sign the release form. Finding other roommates to take my place has been unsuccessful for both my roommate and I, therefore, I had sent a 30-day notice today, via email, to the property manager, assistant property manager and my roommate. I also told my roommate that they have one bedroom apartments available if she wishes to remain in the area. What should I do if my roommate refuses to give a notice again?

  • bernadette

    In Calif.. Have interesting situation: my Tenants : partners of many years with 4 children together have split up. dad moved out, mom wants to stay with kids. everyday is a different story, gave 30 day notice by dad already outta home cuz had restraining order on him. Verbal but no 30 day notice from mom who resides with kids, but am now told by dad she has no intention of paying rent, cuz is on probation from work. Rent is now a day late, dad said he’d pay for her for January. In original Written contract I gave 4 day grace period which then is a late fee due. But because of recent troubles, they have been late on rent and writing bad checks I verbally told dad in December (while he was still in home but mom had left)we need it by …Cont

  • bernadette

    cont…we need it by the 2nd of each month, no further grace period. If not then late fee applies. He agreed verbally, then was removed by police and mom is there. On Jan 1 (day the rent was due) mom signed addendum to contract that rent is due on 1st and the 2nd is a grace period—she also wrote on that contract that she rescinded her 30 day notice (that I was only given verbally). She also told me verbally previously she would only pay her half of the rent, and needs to get a job. Dad originally told me he’d only pay his half rent. I told both contract states both are legally responsible for full amount. Now dad said he’d pay rent by 3rd this month.
    Important: Is this new addendum legal to apply to this month’s rent since it was signed on the day rent was due or must it go in affect the following month-even though dad was told verbally before he vacated?
    That night she signed addendum we saw the home was in more disrepair than just wear and tear. Flooring chipped & water damage, holes in walls from kids pushing and slamming doors (per daughter), big nics in walls. I was willing to work with them to not displace them, but now believe that they are a big risk, financially, and materially. They are very kind however , definitely unstable tenants now.
    1) Do I give her a 30 day or 60 day notice per calif law if I want them to vacate?
    2) Can I give reason to vacate due to suspicion that they are no longer financially capable of retaining this large of home or tell them I need them to move for damages done? Or should I mention Both reasons?

  • Dan Hunter

    Hi Bernadette, If this were my problem as a landlord, I would hire an attorney and put them out as soon as possible. And in the future you need to understand that the spoken word does not change a written agreement. And when a new tenant takes possession of a unit, you need to walk the unit with tenant and list all defects, then you both sign that checklist. Then make a list when they vacate to show the judge. And you need to run a credit report. Then find fault with their credit and require a blood relative to cosign. Then go over the agreement with cosigner. Make sure he/she has good credit and a solid job and understands what he/she is getting into. If they don’t pay their current bills, they won’t pay you either. Good luck

  • Mar

    Hi, my lease is up the end of January. I never received a renewal letter. I assumed that since I was not planning to renew that it would not be a problem. I stopped by the leasing office to let them know I will not be renewing and they stated they have a “60-day notice of non-renewal” required and that we would be charged for the 60 days. Therefore paying 2 months rent when we will not be there (moving to a different city). I have 2 questions:

    1. If they never sent any notice of our renewal or even of this “60-day notice of non-renewal” (which I’ve never heard of till now), does paying 2 months still apply? It seems excessive and unfair.
    2. If they rent out our unit, say next month. Will we still have to pay the entire 2 months?

    Thx

  • Dan Hunter

    Hi Mar, Your questions need to be addressed to a qualified attorney. Good luck !!!

  • Molly

    Are there any protections the other way? If my lease is up march 31st and it’s Feb 2nd, and they deliver a notice that they aren’t renewing, can they force me out before my 60 days is up?

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