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Legal Question (re: month-to-month, ending lease, blah blah blah)

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Legal Question (re: month-to-month, ending lease, blah blah blah)

Old 02-23-05, 09:04 PM
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Legal Question (re: month-to-month, ending lease, blah blah blah)

I am currently renting the place where I'm living, and it's month-to-month. I had a yearly lease for a while (been here several years), but it lapsed and went month-to-month by default. Fine by me.

I just got a closing date on my new condo -- it's in March. So I emailed my landlord this:

-----Original Message-----
Mr. -----

This message is to inform you that I am moving out of your property at
************* as of the end of March.

I'd appreciate it if you let me know when you receive this message. If I
haven't heard back by Friday (2/23), I'll give you a call.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

His reply:

-----Original Message-----
Thanks for your email, but per your lease, you must give us at least two (2) full calendar month's prior written notice. You are responsible for April rent if we can't find a qualified tenant who will take over your April rent obligation. We'll do our best to find a qualified tenant to start on April 1st, but I must tel you that it's unlikely we will be able to do so based on past experiences (which is why we require at least two (2) full calendar month' prior written notice).

Last year, I sent you and every other tenant a reminder of this provision in the lease.

Please confirm that you understand your obligations under the lease.

I will immediately advise our turn-over crew about your notice so the they can get started with finding a new tenant ASAP.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Note that I have no recollection of getting this reminder of him requiring 2 weeks notice. Note 2 that I have not signed any lease with him other than the yearly lease which does not contain this provision. Of course I don't feel obligated to the conditions he's talking about, and I can't imagine how I would be, but:

This guy is a fricking lawyer.

Hooray.

This is not to say that I'm not right and he knows it, just that I'm not excited to be taken to court over this.

Thoughts?

Legally speaking, can he bind me to terms like that without my signature? I guarantee he has nothing with my signature on it saying I'll give him any notice at all. Therefore, I figured I'd be bound by whatever default laws apply, and thought I'd be safe with one month.

I'd really appreciate some lawyerly advice with facts and stuff. Goofy comments are also welcome, but less so.
Old 02-23-05, 09:07 PM
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otherwise go see a lawyer since state laws differ

in his reply, did he quote the original email? a lot of people have their mail clients set not to include it. some may think i'm paranoid, but if it's not quoted i would send a certified letter to him stating in writing that you are moving out. You may also be required to do this under state law and your email may not be legal notice.
Old 02-23-05, 09:08 PM
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it comes down to what the lease contract says in it, and if your signature is on it or not-
if it doesnt have those terms specifically stated in black and white, in the lease contract, then i dont see how he can hold you to this?

sounds like a strongarm tactic to suck $500-$600 more dollars out of you.
Old 02-23-05, 09:09 PM
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You should check your lease carefully, he might be trying to force you into something that your did not agree to.
Old 02-23-05, 09:12 PM
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As stated above, I am not currently under any written lease. In other words, there does not exist a current lease with my signature on it.

But this thread needs more lawyers!
Old 02-23-05, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by al_bundy
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otherwise go see a lawyer since state laws differ

in his reply, did he quote the original email? a lot of people have their mail clients set not to include it. some may think i'm paranoid, but if it's not quoted i would send a certified letter to him stating in writing that you are moving out. You may also be required to do this under state law and your email may not be legal notice.
Yes, he quoted my email. Good idea re: sending a certified letter.
Old 02-23-05, 09:13 PM
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...If I haven't heard back by Friday (2/23), I'll give you a call.
Friday is the 25th.
... Please confirm that you understand your obligations under the lease.
Whatever you do, don't respond saying that you agree to this, find out for sure what you are required to do.

Was it a two month notification requirement under the original lease (when it was a year long lease)? If so, you might be stuck, I believe that you are "safe". At least in Illinois, there's something odd that happens in a case where a lease expires. I believe that the lease is considered to be renewed by default, I can find out for sure tomorrow.

If you are stuck, any chance of pushing the closing date of the condo back a month?

Edit: Also note that the lawyer-landlord specifies "written" cancellation, so I'd find out if you are stuck for March ASAP and then send him a certified letter / return receipt requested prior to the end of February, which is next Monday.

Last edited by Heat; 02-23-05 at 09:16 PM.
Old 02-23-05, 09:17 PM
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if you didnt sign any kind of contract or lease, then i dont see how you can possibly be held to those conditions-

it would be your word against his, and it would be sorta futile to prove that in small claims?

id be interested in hearing what happens, as i had a similar experience once.
Old 02-23-05, 09:18 PM
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The lease I have that expired in May of 2003 says:


TERMINATION OF LEASE. This Lease may not be terminated by the Tenant. If the Tenant shooses not to renew the Lease after the Lease expires, the Tenant shall give the Landloard no less than two (2) full calendar months advance notice that the lease will not be renewed.
Old 02-23-05, 09:22 PM
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I'd check your state/local laws regarding rentals. In New York, once your lease expires you're month-to-month and the terms of the lease no longer apply. One month's notice is all that's required for such tenants.

Also, there's this:

http://www.cvoeo.org/vti/riv/renting...NoWrittenLease

Looks to me as though one month is all that's required.
Old 02-23-05, 09:24 PM
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I can get some more details on how the Illinois law works tomorrow, but if you lived in Illinois I'm almost positive that you still need to follow the two month advance notice from the original lease. Then again, different states have different laws...

By any chance, has he raised rent at all since the lease expired in May of '03?

The good news is that it appears that you are only on the hook through the end of April. If you had waited until next Tuesday (March 1), you would have been on the hook until the end of May since it specifies two *calendar* months.

Last edited by Heat; 02-23-05 at 09:30 PM.
Old 02-23-05, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TracerBullet
Also, there's this:

http://www.cvoeo.org/vti/riv/renting...NoWrittenLease

Looks to me as though one month is all that's required.

Thanks. I was actually just about to post this, having found it after reading your pre-edit comments.

It really seems like, if this is correct, the law is on my side.


And sorry for not addressing this earlier, but there's no way I'm pushing back my closing. This is new construction and I've been waiting since last May.
Old 02-23-05, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by stevevt
Thanks. I was actually just about to post this, having found it after reading your pre-edit comments.

It really seems like, if this is correct, the law is on my side.


And sorry for not addressing this earlier, but there's no way I'm pushing back my closing. This is new construction and I've been waiting since last May.
You're a month-to-month tenant. If the landlord wanted to evict you, do you think he'd give you two months' notice?

Play hardball.
Old 02-23-05, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by TracerBullet
You're a month-to-month tenant. If the landlord wanted to evict you, do you think he'd give you two months' notice?

Play hardball.
I think he would give two months' notice. Much harder for them to screw you like that when you can simply not move out.

The issue becomes that he has my security deposit (1 month of rent), and I'm about to pay rent for March. No way I'll ever see that deposit if I don't pay for April.
Old 02-23-05, 09:43 PM
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I know in MD that once a lease goes month to month, it is a 1 month requirement, unless otherwise agreed upon in writing. This doesn't help you...but it seems that this is the 'going rate' for something like this.

-pedagogue
Old 02-23-05, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by stevevt
I think he would give two months' notice. Much harder for them to screw you like that when you can simply not move out.

The issue becomes that he has my security deposit (1 month of rent), and I'm about to pay rent for March. No way I'll ever see that deposit if I don't pay for April.
I hate that landlords get away with this shit. I'd make absolutely sure that only one month of notice is required (can you consult a lawyer?) and if you don't get it back, sue for nonreturn of the security deposit. Filing a small claims case costs what, 10 bucks?
Old 02-23-05, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by stevevt
Thanks. I was actually just about to post this, having found it after reading your pre-edit comments.

It really seems like, if this is correct, the law is on my side.


And sorry for not addressing this earlier, but there's no way I'm pushing back my closing. This is new construction and I've been waiting since last May.
"When a written lease expires it does not automatically terminate the tenancy, unless the lease specifically states that the tenancy terminates and the tenant must leave when the lease is up. If the lease does not state this, the tenancy becomes month to month after the lease expires, and is then governed by the laws that regulate such tenancies. Therefore, tenants who wish to move out at the end of the lease term should give the landlord written notice of their intention at least one full rental period before the lease expires. "

Steve,

Not so sure about your take on this. I see the one month notice for the end of the original lease term, but you need to look at the rules for month to month tenancy and the fact you signed a lease that says it requires two months notice. The question is whether or not that clause conflicts with VT law.

" The rental agreement determines the specific rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords, but cannot take away basic rights granted under state, federal, or local laws. The landlord cannot enforce a lease provision that takes away any rights the tenant has under the law, even if the tenant agrees to the provision by signing the lease."


Good luck steve.. congrats on the new place
Old 02-23-05, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by matchpenalty
Not so sure about your take on this. I see the one month notice for the end of the original lease term, but you need to look at the rules for month to month tenancy and the fact you signed a lease that says it requires two months notice. The question is whether or not that clause conflicts with VT law.

" The rental agreement determines the specific rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords, but cannot take away basic rights granted under state, federal, or local laws. The landlord cannot enforce a lease provision that takes away any rights the tenant has under the law, even if the tenant agrees to the provision by signing the lease."
Agreed. I need to know what the Vermont law actually is. Found the appropriate page at Vermont Statutes Online, but I don't think laws governing month-to-month leases are there. Or at least I can't find them.

Originally Posted by matchpenalty
Good luck steve.. congrats on the new place

Thanks.
Old 02-23-05, 10:07 PM
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I am actually there now:

http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/...&Section=04456

subsection d... at least one payment period unless conflicting with written rental agreement..

there seems to be no direct mention of month to month leases..

another section requires 60 day min notice of a rent increase...just fyi

FYI: (1) "Actual notice" means written notice hand-delivered or mailed to the last known address.

just so you know....for delivering your notice!

Last edited by matchpenalty; 02-23-05 at 10:11 PM.
Old 02-23-05, 10:13 PM
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Originally Posted by matchpenalty
I am actually there now:

http://www.leg.state.vt.us/statutes/...&Section=04456

subsection d... at least one payment period unless conflicting with written rental agreement..

there seems to be no direct mention of month to month leases..
Right you are. Despite this text from CVOEO suggesting that I might be able to find such laws.

When a written lease expires it does not automatically terminate the tenancy, unless the lease specifically states that the tenancy terminates and the tenant must leave when the lease is up. If the lease does not state this, the tenancy becomes month to month after the lease expires, and is then governed by the laws that regulate such tenancies.
Just documenting all this for what will no doubt be protracted legal wranglings.
Old 02-23-05, 10:20 PM
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Originally Posted by stevevt
Right you are. Despite this text from CVOEO suggesting that I might be able to find such laws.



Just documenting all this for what will no doubt be protracted legal wranglings.
Beginning to think you may lose this one

(b) The landlord or the tenant may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by a written notice given to the other at least [60] days before the periodic rental date specified in the notice.

http://rhol.org/rental/URLTA.htm#%A7%A04.301.%20[Periodic%20Tenancy;%20Holdover%20Remedies]

Check.. this may be a uniform code.. did vt accept it??

and some more general info

http://www.law.cornell.edu/topics/landlord_tenant.html

Last edited by matchpenalty; 02-23-05 at 10:23 PM.
Old 02-24-05, 12:09 PM
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It's called "holdover tenancy". In Illinois at least, when your lease expires the landlord has two choices: (1) evict you, or (2) treat the lease as if it has been renewed (landlords choice, not the tenant). Basically, if the landlord accepted your rent, it was holdover tenancy with the same provisions of the original lease, with the exception of the length if the landlord wanted to change it (thus, you are on month to month rather than year to year), but the other provisions remain.

In any event, remember that you need to get *written* notice to your landlord by next Monday.
Old 02-24-05, 05:48 PM
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No real resolution so far, but I did manage to make sure the landlord would have written notice by Monday. He'll have it tomorrow by noon, actually.

I have a call out to a lawyer and hope to be able to have my position figured out by tomorrow. I'm starting to lean toward thinking I will be stuck. Even if there were no chance of repurcussions, I wouldn't withhold rent that are my legal responsibility.

Thanks for all the advice.
Old 03-16-05, 06:51 PM
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Update:

I basically gave up any idea of fighting the 2 months notice thing and told the landlord I'd pay for April if he didn't find a renter.

He ended up showing the place that week, and actually managed to rent it for April 1. All hail the tight rental market!

As far as the rest of it goes, I closed on the condo Monday, and have been moving in slowly since then. This weekend is the big push; I hope to have only large items left -- truck reserved for the following weekend.

Thanks again for all the help.
Old 03-16-05, 06:57 PM
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No problem....bill is in the mail.

-pedagogue

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