Must I sign a new lease?
June 5, 2012 9:40 PM Subscribe
Can my landlord require me to sign a new lease, even though we've been on a month-to-month basis for more than a year?
Following a layoff, my family and I picked up and moved cross-country to California about 18 months ago. Without jobs, we had difficulty finding property management companies that would consider renting to us. Finally, we found a place that suited our needs well enough, and began negotiating directly with the property owner.
Since we'd cashed in some retirement accounts to fund the move, we had plenty of cash, so to encourage the owner to rent to us, we paid the first three months in advance, along with a security deposit equal to one month's rent. Even still, he was hesitant to rent to us, and said he'd prefer to do a six month lease, just in case we weren't working out.
This all happened December 1, 2010. That lease ended May 30, 2011 (incorrectly written as May 30, 2010 on the lease), and we've been living here without a lease since that time. The rent has remained the same that whole time ($1600).
We got a new lease in the mail from them today, explaining that we need to sign a new one-year lease, and that they find it necessary to raise the rent $50 per month. I'm not excited about the increase, but I'm okay with it. What I do have a problem with is signing a year-long lease. We're not sure we'll stay in town, and even if we do, this isn't a home where we'd like to stay (it's too small now that our oldest is living with us while in college).
So, long story short, two questions:
1. Can I just refuse to sign a new lease, even while agreeing to the rent increase? That'd be my preference.
2. Does it matter that they are making the new terms effective July 1, but we just got notified today? I have no idea if a month's notice is required legally, but it would seem logical.
As mentioned above, we're in California. All responses are welcome. Thanks in advance!