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Landlord's failure to notify change in rental agreement (California)

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by Tet_, Jun 22, 2001.

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  1. Tet_

    Tet_ Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi. I would appreciate if your could share thoughts regarding the
    following situation.

    I live in an apartment in the San Francisco Bay Area, and my one-year lease will expire on 6/30/2001. Considering the timing of the lease expiration, I expected to receive a renewed rent notice about a month ago at the latest from the landlord, but have not received any yet. I understand that they offer three types of lease terms: month-to-month, 6 months, and 1 year.

    Pursuant to Article 25. CHANGE IN RENTAL AGREEMENT of the current lease agreement, "After the expiration of the initial term (7/1/2000 - 6/30/2001), if any, the Lessor may change the terms and conditions of this Agreement. The Lessor must notify the Lessee of any change and must offer the Lessee a new Agreement or an amendment to the existing Agreement. The Lessee must receive the notice at least 30 days before the proposed effective date of the change. The Lessee may accept the changed terms and conditions by signing the new Agreement and returning it to the Lessor or reject the changed terms and conditions by giving the Lessor a written 30-day notice terminating its tenancy."

    I do not think the landlord's failure to provide me with a notice of lease renewal is reasonable or in line with what the above mentioned agreement says. I believe that I should have received a renewal notice before 6/1/01 with a new set of rent amounts based on various lease terms they offer. The landlord's failure to provide a renewal notice in a timely manner is not reasonable because such failure effectively have prevented me
    from making an informed decision as to whether I would want to stay or move out by considering a various lease terms and associated new rents.

    I visited the apartment community's management office today and asked one of their lease consultant why I have not received any renewal notice yet. He checked my file and told me that somehow a renewal notice has not been sent out to me, and suggested that I pay the current rent amount when it comes to July, which is after the 6/30 lease expiration date. He also
    mentioned that they would not necessarily have to provide me with a renew notice at this point since there is no change in the lease terms and conditions, but I believe he is plainly wrong because the lease term is ending on 6/30 and at least this term has to be changed even if there is no other change in the terms and conditions including monthly rent. Therefore, there is at least a change in the terms and conditions, which should trigger the lessor's responsibility to provide me with a notice in a timely manner (30 days) as stipulated in the above
    Article 25.

    The leasing consultant also mentioned that they will try to provide me with a renew notice ASAP, but it may take another month or so. Additionally he mentioned that I could always make a decision to move out with giving them a 30-day notice. But his comment is totally out of mark because obviously the decision as to whether to stay or move out is not made in a vacuum but by
    considering the current rent markets and whether it may be better to enter into another 1 year lease or limit to 6 month lease or change to month-to-month, etc. (I also remember that I emailed an inquiry about a notice of lease renewal about a month ago and got a response by another lease consultant by phone saying that they had been unable to sent out a renewal notice and also suggesting that I pay the same amount in case I do
    not receive the renewal notice in time.)

    Paying the same amount of rent after the current lease expiration does not make much sense to me because the rent markets around this area has been plummeting recently (because of
    many dot.com failures and layoffs). I suspect that paying the same amount after the lease expiration would end up paying too much unless there is any retroactive adjustment for such payment when the they give me a renew notice.
    When I asked the leasing consultant today if they were doing the same thing to other tenants as well, he replied that I was the only one tenant to whom somehow a notice of rent renewal has not been sent out in a timely manner. (But then, they should have been able to prepare the notice when I reminded
    them of it by email about a month ago!)

    I am not sure but I am a little suspicious that, under the current market situation in the SF Bay Area, the landlord may be intentionally trying to procrastinate the timing of giving a notice of lease renewal and suggest tenants (not only myself but other tenants as well, I guess...) to pay the rent amount based on the old (i.e. not-renewed) agreement, so that they will
    not have to suffer from new reduced rents to the extent possible.

    Under the situation described above, I would like to have your thoughts on:

    1. Is it reasonable for the landlord NOT to provide me with a renewal proposal?

    2. If the landlord is not reasonable per above #1, is there any government agency that I can file a complaint?

    3. Will I have to pay the current monthly rent for July if I do not receive the renewal notice by the 6/30 current lease expiration date?

    4. Per #3 above, how can the rent be adjusted retroactively, if any?

    5. How should I handle the matter in general?

    Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, etc., would be much appreciated.
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Sounds like you know what is going on. This is very difficult to answer properly without seeing your entire lease so treat the following with great caution. I'm also in NY and can only answer what may be relevant here although there may be local laws protecting you. I've heard that rents are plummeting in SF due to the dot come demise. :) (smiley for the lower rents). The survival language (about notice that "survives" the lease expiring) seems to have been included for your protection. Your dept. of housing would deal with this sort of chicanery, and here's a link to it.

    They may be very helpful especially since I'm sure they have seen a great deal of this occurring over the past year.

    I don't know what the actual law would be in this case, haven't seen your lease, etc. -- there are a number of provisions that may be controlling:

    1) Is there an autorenewal section or are they required to give you notice if there is going to be a change? This is probably most important.
    2) I'd send a written letter stating the dates of your inquiry about the lease and your requests as to the status of your lease which have been continually denied and you are left in the dark. In the event you want to leave you may be able to without worrying about renewal for another year due to the landlord's representations. Be careful wording your letter.
    3) I can't say you should do this, but if it were me I would think of delaying paying the rent **IF** I knew that I had no lease (e.g., the lease explicitly says that any renewal MUST be in writing) and would make an offer for a new lease at another rate and perhaps offer to pay that new rate. I'd also be looking for a new apartment at the same time since it seems that the landlord wants to continue to charge you the current rate rather than the going rate.

    Most of the cases I've seen never get to court, especially when the landlord is doing something that would be problematic to say in front of a judge with a straight face. It would seem that the landlord would prefer a settlement route rather than eviction if you decide to move... but be very careful as what I have said is just discussion purposes between online friends :) , not legal advice, and you need to read your lease very carefully.

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