If you have recently been notified that your landlord does not intend to renew your lease and are wondering if that is something they can do, you are in the right place.
In this article, I am going to answer the question of whether a landlord can refuse to renew your lease, some of the main reasons why a landlord may choose to do this, and some strategies you can use to negotiate a renewal with your landlord, despite their initial refusal.
Looking for a quick answer to the question of whether a landlord can refuse to renew your lease? Here’s the short answer:
As a general matter, landlords can refuse to renew a lease upon its expiration. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, a landlord may not refuse to renew a lease if it based on illegal reasons, such as unlawful retaliation.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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Can a Landlord Refuse to Renew a Lease?
Generally , a landlord may refuse to renew your lease without much restriction. After all, in most leases, when the lease term is up, the contract simply expires on its own without any action by you or the landlord.
Of course, leases vary among landlords, so you should read yours carefully to make sure that this is the case.
In some instances, you may have “autorenewal” language, which gives you the right to automatically renew unless the landlord objects. If your landlord is silent or the timeframe for providing notice of nonrenewal has passed, they may be bound to honor the autorenewal of the lease.
Alternatively, you may be able to dispute your landlord’s refusal to renew your lease if you believe they are not renewing because they are retaliating against you for filing a legitimate complaint against them.
An example of this situation is where you have filed a complaint with your local housing department or federal housing agency because your landlord failed to fix something important or the premises was otherwise not habitable or up to code.
If they retaliate against you because of this by not renewing your lease, you may (at least in theory) have a claim against them.
Now, whether you actually have a claim will depend on your specific facts and circumstances and whether your state has anti-retaliation statutes in place.
The good news is that most states have some sort of anti-retaliation law in place. According to Findlaw.com, there are only 8 states that don’t have this type of law, so chances are good that your state has something like this.
Now the devil is in the details, so you will want to check out your state’s landlord tenant laws. Hiring a qualified lawyer is the simplest approach, but if you have a limited budget, you can research on you own.
I have compiled these laws for all 50 states, which you can access here.
If you prefer to have a lawyer assist you, I would try JustAnswer. They boast access to thousands of highly-rated, verified real estate lawyers whom you can connect with via their unlimited chat service.
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Why Would My Landlord Not Renew My Lease?
There could be many reasons why a landlord may not renew your lease.
They may want to sell the property. They may want to move into it and live there. They may have a relative moving to your town and they want to provide a place for them.
The possibilities are really endless.
But in many cases, a landlord may simply want another tenant. If you don’t take care of their property, complain a lot (about issues that are not a big deal), or your personality just clashes with theirs, they may want to find another tenant who is a better fit for them.
Bear in mind that landlords do not like vacancy, so most will want to renew unless there is a significant issue with the current tenant or there are strategic reasons for not renewing (like selling, etc.).
That’s because it costs money to refresh a property after a tenant leaves, and it takes time and effort to locate another qualified tenant. Landlords may also lose money if the property remains vacant for some period of time, because they will still need to pay their mortgage and other expenses even if they are not getting rent.
Ok, so what are the biggest reasons why a landlord may not renew? Here’s a list of the main ones.
- You don’t take care of the property. It you are constantly breaking things, a landlord is not going to want to renew. Repairing items costs money and if you have a tendency to break things in the unit, a landlord will likely not want to renew.
- You are behind on rent or consistently pay late. This one’s pretty obvious, right? When you don’t pay rent or are late, that impacts your landlord’s bottom line (and their ability to make mortgage payments). This is a huge deal for landlords.
- You have violated the lease agreement. Not paying your rent on time is not the only way you can breach your lease. If you bring unauthorized pets, make alterations to the property, or generally violate the terms of your lease, your landlord will be far less likely to renew your lease when the time comes.
- Your neighbors complain about you. No landlord likes to hear complaints. If you are the source of constant complaints from your neighbors, your landlord may feel that someone else may raise less issues with the community and move in that direction.
- They are selling the property. Ok, this one is not the fault of the tenant. Sometimes a landlord just wants to sell and cash out.
- They want to renovate the property. This one’s also out of your control. If your property is in need of significant repairs and upgrades, your landlord may just feel it’s time to take it off the rental market and get this stuff done.
- They want to repurpose the property. A final reason that is not due to tenant actions is that landlords sometimes just want to transform their property from a standard rental to another type of rental. Going the Airbnb route is a popular choice. Or, if you have a lot of companies in your area, some landlords choose to offer corporate housing.
Ok, now you know the main reasons why a landlord may choose to not renew your lease. Hopefully this will allow you to plan a little better in the future so that you maximize your chances of being viewed as a good tenant by your landlord and get that lease renewal.
But what if your landlord has already given you a notice of nonrenewal? Is there anything you can do now? Of course! Let’s turn to it…
What Can I Do if I Have Received a Notice of Nonrenewal for My Lease?
The best thing you can do is talk with your landlord and find out why they are not renewing. If it’s for strategic reasons that are really outside your control, there may not be much you can do.
But it it’s because they think you did something wrong, you can try to negotiate with them about that.
You can offer to pay a higher rent or security deposit and promise to remedy the issue that’s causing them concern. You can offer to sign up a long term renewal, which would cut down on their vacancy issues in the future.
Bottom line: Try to put yourself in your landlord’s place and think about what would make them want to have you as a tenant and give them choices that appeal to their needs.
There are no guarantees, of course, and they may still wind up saying no, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and try.
So there you have it – an answer to the question of whether a landlord can refuse to renew a lease, when they are allowed to do it (and when they’re not), and some tips on how to prevent this from happening to you in the future.