Do I need to give notice if my lease is expiring?
April 15, 2005 11:06 AM   Subscribe

My lease runs out at the end of the month. Do I need to give 30 days notice, or can I legally move out (and stop paying rent) with less notice?

This is in Oakland, CA. My lease does not specify what, if anything, happens once the term expires. I want to move ASAP once the lease expires.
posted by Four Flavors to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
What's your lease say?
posted by jperkins at 11:16 AM on April 15, 2005

Perhaps the best person to ask would be your landlord. Even if you get advice here, it really isn't going to matter much if your landlord decides to be an ass about something and take you to court. It may even be completely unjustified, but could happen. Are you afraid to give notice?

On preview... what jperkins said.
posted by odinsdream at 11:17 AM on April 15, 2005

In New York, as long as you find someone else to take the apartment you can move out anytime.
posted by xammerboy at 11:19 AM on April 15, 2005

In Washington State you have to give 20 days notice.
posted by matildaben at 11:21 AM on April 15, 2005

Does the lease have any provision for how much notice you must give? Does it have any provision for renewal? Lacking anything on these issues I would guess the expectation is that you would be moving out at the end of the lease and that no further notice would be required. Of course giving your landlord notice, even at this late stage, would be a polite thing to do.
posted by caddis at 11:34 AM on April 15, 2005

Be careful- I thought I just had to give 60 days' notice- and when I last paid my rent I said to my landlord, in passing, "Hey- when do I need to give you official notice?" and it turns out that my lease said I had to give 120 days notice! Excessive, no?

(This is in Philadelphia, PA).

Usually your lease just renews automatically unless you put it in writing that you don't want to renew it.

But I'm sure if it's within a reasonable amount of time, your landlord would be cool with not automatically renewing your lease.
posted by elisabeth r at 11:42 AM on April 15, 2005

There are several things that can happen when your lease expires, and which thing(s) happen are completely determined by 1) relevant statutes and regulations in your state, and 2) the "four corners" of the lease document itself. Some possibilities about the document:

1) upon the last day of the stated lease term, it expires and you no longer have any relation to your landlord. In this case, you should leave and stop paying rent; if you don't leave, you may be ejected by force.

2) you and your landlord specify that, upon expiration, you have the option to renew the lease for X period at Y per month, where X and Y may be stated in the document or re-negotiated at the time. If you have an option, it's customary to give notice (and sometimes to require notice) of your decision at some point before the end of the lease.

3) the lease may automatically become month-to-month, generally for the same rent. In this case, you'd almost certainly need to give a month's notice before moving out (well... before you stop paying, anyway).

If your lease really says NOTHING about what happens after expiration, then you'll have to rely on the statutory default (which is probably generous to the tenant). As far as statutes go, I don't know anything about Oakland, but there are robust landlord/tenant laws in California generally, and you should probably read about them here to find out if you have any implied obligations beyond what's stated in your lease contract:

And I basically agree with odinsdream's suggestion that you work it out equitably with your landlord regardless of what's required, but if you have reason to believe he's going to be a dick about it, you would do well to read up on your rights a bit first.
posted by rkent at 11:53 AM on April 15, 2005

p.s. This is probably better filed under "law and government" than "home and garden" if you can change that kind of thing after the fact.
posted by rkent at 11:56 AM on April 15, 2005

In New York, as long as you find someone else to take the apartment you can move out anytime.

Unless, of course, your lease forbids subletting without your landlord's consent, which it probably does, in which case you would be in default and the person you sublet to could be evicted.
posted by beagle at 12:30 PM on April 15, 2005

I you agreed to lease the premises for a set of amount of time (i.e. one year), with no automatic renewal, then generally* that stated term acts as constructive notice that unless the landlord hears otherwise, you are moving out.

* - I'm not a lawyer, and this is a common-law generalization
posted by falconred at 2:35 PM on April 15, 2005

This document has lots of info about Periodic rental agreements (month-to-month), but the section it claims to exist on page 40 "Moving at the End of a Lease" doesn't seem to exist.

I guess I'll just have to talk to my landlord. I wanted to go in knowing the law so I wasn't just taking his word for what my legal responsibilities are, if any, after the end of my lease.

To all those who asked about provisions in my lease, I wasn't kidding when I said there is no mention of the time period after the lease is up. I read it 3 times to be sure.

My main concern is that I'm pretty sure I'm going to want to move on the 1st and I'd rather not pay rent for May 1st-15th. Since I'm not month-to-month it doesn't appear that I'm legally obligated to pay for 30 days from the date I give notice.
It's likely that no matter what the California law there is a local law as well, since I live in a rent-controlled area. Perhaps my local city hall or tenenants rights group will know.

Thanks for the link rkent. No, I can't change the category after the fact.
posted by Four Flavors at 2:35 PM on April 15, 2005

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