Q:I have been renting my apartment for six years using annual leases. This year at renewal time, I asked to go on a month-to-month lease due to some maintenance concerns. The landlord agreed, and we signed a month-to-month agreement that calls for 30-day notice to terminate the lease. I just received notice that the landlord wants me out in 30 days. I pay my rent at the beginning of each month, but the letter wants me out in the middle of next month. Can he do this? Also, I always pay on time, and the landlord has no reason to kick me out other than me not wanting to sign an annual lease. Is this OK? — Darlene
A: Leases are contracts, and both landlords and tenants must follow their terms. Because you agreed to a month-to-month lease, neither you nor your landlord have any obligation to extend the lease each additional month, as long as proper notice is given. Your landlord could elect not to continue renting the property to you at the end of each lease period the same as you could if you decided to move. When entering into any contract, such as a lease, it is important to remember that each party has rights and responsibilities that flow both ways. You signed a month-to-month lease to give yourself options to move to a more suitable home, but these same terms gave your landlord the opportunity to find a different tenant.
However, since your monthly periods begin on the first and run with the calendar, your landlord cannot ask you to leave in the middle of the next monthly period.
The law typically allows for 15-day notice to terminate a monthly lease, but you and your landlord agreed to a 30-day notice instead. This notice period means that you both need to provide the other with appropriate advance notice that you will not be renewing the lease for an additional monthly period.
Since you were already in the middle of the current month, the next monthly period will begin inside the 30-day window. This means it is the following month that will not renew, and you will need to vacate the apartment at the end of next month, not in the middle of it. It is not 30 days to leave, rather that there will be no more monthly renewals after 30 days. Be aware that you will still need to pay him for next month unless he is already holding the “last” month of rent as is common in most leases.
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