If you have been given very short notice by your landlord that they do not intend to renew your lease, you may be wondering how much notice is actually required.
In this article, I am going to answer that question, including (i) steps you need to take to determine the required amount of notice, (ii) what to do when you do receive this type of notice (especially if you want to stay on), and (iii) why landlords give nonrenewal notices (so you can prevent this from happening to you in the future).
The answer to the question will turn on a number of factors, but one of the biggest is your state and local laws. I will cover the applicable laws for California, New York and Texas (three of the largest jurisdictions), so you have a sense of how some of the biggest states handle this issue.
If you don’t want to go into all of that and are looking for the short answer to the question, it’s as follows:
As a general matter, landlords should provide 30 to 60 days’ prior written notice of non-renewal of the lease. The actual required notice will depend on what your lease states, as well as applicable state and local laws on this issue. In many cases, the law will require longer notice the longer you have lived in your dwelling.
Ok, we’ve for a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.
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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How Much Notice Does a Landlord Need to Give if They’re Not Renewing the Lease?
Check Your Lease First
The first thing to do when trying to figure out how much notice a landlord needs to give if they are not renewing the lease is to carefully read the lease.
Most written leases address the issue of renewals in some way and if the landlord is professional (and takes steps to ensure that their lease complies with applicable laws) the lease will align with legal requirements.
I have found that most leases address notices of nonrenewal by requiring 30 or 60 days’ prior written notification.
Some leases have auto-renewal clauses (which means that if no one gives notice, the lease automatically renews) while others say that the rental arrangement converts to a month to month at the end of the lease.
Again, your lease should be fairly determinative on the question, so it’s best to read it thoroughly.
Of course, it is possible that your lease is in violation of state or local laws when it comes to this issue, so you will also want to investigate applicable state and local laws.
Now, I can’t cover the laws of all states in one article, so I have (as promised) selected three very large states (California, New York and Texas) and provided a summary of their requirements below.
Under California law (California Civil Code 1946.1), when there is a month to month lease in place, the landlord must give at least 30 days’ prior written notice if the tenant has been living in the premises for less than a year.
What happens if the tenant has lived in the unit for longer?
As a general matter, a landlord may not terminate a tenancy for a tenant who has lawfully and continuously occupied the dwelling for 12 months unless there is “just cause”. The definition of just cause includes (but is not limited to) non-payment of rent or other material lease violations, as well as committing waste and creating a nuisance.
This requirement is not limited to month to month arrangements and supersedes all other California laws.
Source: California Civil Code 1946.2
Now if the landlord terminates for just cause, they still must provide notice as required by law, which may be a 3 day notice to quit or other notice as set forth in the code.
In New York, the amount of notice that a landlord must provide when not renewing a lease will depend on how long the tenant has lived in the premises (or the length of the lease term).
If the tenant has occupied the unit for less than one year and the lease term is less than one year, the landlord must give at least 30 days’ notice.
If the tenant has occupied the unit for more than one year but less than two years, or has a lease term of at least one year but less than two years, the landlord must give at least 60 days’ notice.
If the tenant has occupied the unit for more than two years or has a lease term of at least two years, the landlord must give at least 90 days’ notice.
Source: N.Y. Real Prop. Law § 226-C
In Texas, the rules are simpler.
The landlord must provide a notice of nonrenewal at least 60 days before the date the current lease term expires; or if the lease is a month-to-month lease, not later than the 60th day before the date the landlord intends to terminate the current term of the lease.
Reasons for a Landlord Not to Renew a Lease
If your landlord has given you a notice of nonrenewal and you are wondering why, here are some of the most common reasons why a landlord provides such notice.
Knowing the possible reasons is important because it can help you prevent this from happening and it also gives you some clues on how you can respond if you are faced with this situation.
Failure to Pay Rent
One of the most common reasons why a landlord wouldn’t renew a contract is that the tenant is a bad payer. In other words, he doesn’t pay the complete agreed amount or consistently pays past the due date.
This scenario particularly irks landlords because, more often than not, utility bills, property maintenance costs, and employee compensations are taken from the rent.
The late or incomplete payments cause a domino effect to these expenses, thus, affecting their business negatively as well.
Recurrent Violations of Contract Terms
If the tenant constantly ignores house rules and terms of the lease, then no landlord would be happy to do business with him. Some of the most common violations are:
- Making unauthorized renovations on the property
- Subletting the property or a portion of it
- No regard for community health and safety standards
Causing Damage to Property
Whether intentional or not, property damage is intolerable for most landlords. Some contracts allow for renovations, but always check with your landlord being doing so.
An example of unintentionally causing property damage is failing to report problems in plumbing or electrical fixtures. Some tenants may justify this by saying that the issue was relatively negligible or tolerable, but it worsens the longer it’s ignored.
Generally, property owners appreciate it when minor problems are reported and fixed immediately instead of waiting on them.
What if My Landlord Has Given Notice of Nonrenewal, But I Want to Stay On?
There are a number of options available to you if you want to continue your lease after your landlord has give you notice of nonrenewal.
Of course, much will depend on the reason why your landlord is not renewing and some of them may be beyond your control (e.g., they are selling the property because they are moving or need the money, they want to move in themselves or have a family member move in, etc.).
But barring that, here are some things you can do to try to make your landlord change their mind:
- You can offer to pay a higher rent – money talks, and this is the simplest (and often the most effective) way to persuade your landlord to keep you on.
- You can offer to sign up for an extended term – landlords hate vacancies and having the assurance of a long term tenant can be attractive.
- You can offer to cover small repairs and maintenance tasks – many landlords don’t like the cost and hassle of fixing things that break down, so if you are handy you can offer to take care of these things on your own.
- You can offer to provide other services to the landlord – if you have another valuable skill other than being handy, you may want to offer them access to your services in exchange for a renewal.
So there you have it – a clear answer to how much notice your landlord needs to give if they are not renewing the lease. The bottom line is to check your lease and applicable laws to get a definitive answer, but in many cases, you are likely looking at 30 to 60 days prior notice.
Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!