Even though my lease has ended, am I still on the hook?
November 28, 2017 9:13 PM   Subscribe

My CA apartment lease ends December 1, 2017. Or so I thought.

Last December, I signed a 1-year lease for an apartment in Santa Clara County, CA. The 1st page states the following:
TERM: The term of this Agreement is for 12 months , beginning on 12/02/2016 and ending on 12/01/2017 at which time this Lease shall terminate without further notice. Any holding over thereafter shall result in Resident being liable to Owner/Agent for daily rental damages equal to the current market value of the unit, divided by 30. A “month-to-month” tenancy subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement shall be created only if Owner/Agent accepts rent from Resident thereafter, and if so accepted, tenancy may be terminated by Resident after service upon the Owner/Agent of a written 30-day Notice of Termination. Except as prohibited by law, that month-to-month tenancy may be terminated by the Owner/Agent by service upon the Resident of a written 60-day notice of termination of tenancy. However, Civil Code Section 1946.1 provides that “if any tenant or resident has resided in the dwelling for less than one year”, the Owner/Agent may terminate the tenancy by service upon the Resident of a written 30-day notice.
-4 weeks ago, I emailed my landlord, asking them how much my rent increase would be. No response.
-3 weeks ago, I emailed them again. Still no response.
-Somewhere between then and now, I got caught up with the holidays, and realized that I never actually provided written notice per se, to my landlord that I would move out by 12/1.
-Today, I am perusing the lease agreement and find the following buried in a New Provisions Addenum.
Tenant shall provide proper written notice, a minimum of thirty days in advance of move-out.
Crap. It was confusingly printed on a lined form, so it appears crossed-out, and I'm wondering if that's why I missed it. Since I never provided proper written notice, does this mean I'm liable for another month's worth of rent?

You are not my lawyer, and nothing posted on this page is legal advice.
posted by invisible ink to Law & Government (11 answers total)
 
Your lease will go month to month in December. Since you didnt give notice, you will need to pay for December. They need to give notice if they are raising your rent, so if you have not received notice then the rent will remain the same.

Signing a 1 year lease that then continues on as month-to-month seems to be the norm in CA. At least it has been the norm for me in the LA area. I’ve been in the same building for over 10 years and have only signed a new one year lease when I first moved in, when I switched to a different apartment in the same building, and when our roommate moved out. In between it was all month-to-month.
posted by amapolaroja at 9:30 PM on November 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


I think that this "A “month-to-month” tenancy subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement shall be created only if Owner/Agent accepts rent from Resident thereafter," means you're off the hook, but I'm a non-legal-type person who lives in another country, so take that for what it's worth.
posted by kate4914 at 9:30 PM on November 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


I am pretty sure California law is that if no one notifies the other person within 30 days of the lease ending, it rolls over as month-to-month on the same terms. I lived there and they forgot to notify me of the lease ending, and I didn't even realize the lease was ending, so it rolled over. Once they realized their error, they served me with a big fat increase the following month and I served them with my move-out notice.

That said, I do think you are on the hook legally, because even beyond the language in your lease, it's California law that you needed to notify your landlord within 30 days of your intention to leave (assuming you pay your rent check monthly -- you need to give the landlord the same amount of notice as the number of days between rent payments), even though you have a long-term lease and are not yet month-to-month. Their failure to notify you just means they can't charge you more. I am not a lawyer, just a renter.

If I were you, I would ask your landlord about it. Maybe you can only be on the hook unless they find a tenant before 30 days. Maybe they will let you pay a prorated week or two. Maybe you can just forfeit your deposit.
posted by AppleTurnover at 9:35 PM on November 28, 2017 [2 favorites]


You are required to give 30 days notice to end tenancy. CA state law.
posted by rednikki at 10:38 PM on November 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


Caveat that local law may somehow preempt the terms of the lease, in which case, obviously, analysis of the terms of the lease will not be sufficient to understand your obligations. That's not uncommon when it comes to housing law and it's what you'd need CA-specific advice for. But I can tell you what the contract says, and perhaps someone who knows locality-specific law can chime in on how the law may affect its interpretation.

Your lease terminates December 1. It terminates automatically. No notice from either party is required. That's what "without notice" means. There's no ambiguity there. The only way it can survive in any form, as a month-to-month, is if the landlord accepts rent from you for the next month. There is really no reading of "A 'month-to-month' tenancy subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement shall be created only if Owner/Agent accepts rent from Resident thereafter" that means that a month-to-month tenancy would somehow automatically arise without notice from the tenant at the expiry of the original term. If you vacate by December 1 and don't offer the landlord rent for December, you should not have any further financial obligation (barring damage to the property, of course).

The New Provisions Addendum has to be referring to notice of termination of any month-to-month that arises after the end of the initial lease. It isn't possible for a lease both to terminate without notice and for notice to be required.

it's California law that you needed to notify your landlord within 30 days of your intention to leave (assuming you pay your rent check monthly -- you need to give the landlord the same amount of notice as the number of days between rent payments),

Based on my admittedly quick research, this is simply not true. That notice requirement applies to agreements without a specified term, which are those agreements that specify the period between rent payments rather than the total length of the lease (Civil Code sec. 1946). This is a lease for a year, therefore very much not an agreement without a specified term, and there does not appear to be any such requirement for leases with specified terms. (Which is also blatantly obviously common sense. Why would there be a notice requirement when the termination date of the lease is already fixed and known and the tenant specifically does not have any right to unilaterally convert the lease to month-to-month?) Even if there were such a requirement, the landlord would almost certainly have waived that requirement by specifying "without notice" in the contract.

This is not the kind of situation where vague lay understandings are going to be all that helpful. If you need further assistance, I'd look for a local tenants' union or housing rights group.
posted by praemunire at 10:46 PM on November 28, 2017 [6 favorites]


You are required to give 30 days notice to end tenancy. CA state law.

That page is specifically referring to a month-to-month tenancy, based on the provision I mentioned above, dealing with agreements without a specified term. Maybe there is some other provision someone better-versed in local law than me can point to that affects agreements with specified terms (and which is not waivable in writing by the landlord), but if you don't understand the legal and conceptual distinction between a month-to-month lease and a lease with a fixed term, you're not going to be able to give useful advice here.
posted by praemunire at 10:51 PM on November 28, 2017 [1 favorite]


Thanks everyone, this has given me a lot of food for thought. If anyone's interested in the idiosyncrasies of CA tenant law, I will post an update later:)
posted by invisible ink at 11:06 PM on November 28, 2017


You look clear to me. Make sure you are out by that day, and you are making good faith efforts to contact your landlord to get the keys back to them. I would also suggest you talk a look at deposit return - CA and get familiar with what can and cannot be taken out for a deposit. I have gotten full deposits back immediately when reminding a rental company that it is day 22 of the 21 day legal limit for returning my deposit.
posted by Oceanic Trench at 3:08 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm with praemunire, both on his practical conclusion and on his caveat that having a bunch of internet lawyers (some real and some just playing one on AskMe) is not a good basis to get comfortable. But let's break down the section you sent:

TERM: The term of this Agreement is for 12 months , beginning on 12/02/2016 and ending on 12/01/2017 at which time this Lease shall terminate without further notice.

There is a defined start date and a defined end date, with provision that the Lease will terminate "without further notice." So by the plain language of the paper, you are done on the 1st. Full stop.

Any holding over thereafter shall result in Resident being liable to Owner/Agent for daily rental damages equal to the current market value of the unit, divided by 30.

This says that if you overstay the lease and then leave, you owe FMV/30. So if the place is worth $2400/mo, you'd owe $80/day if you stay beyond the 1st.

A “month-to-month” tenancy subject to the terms and conditions of this agreement shall be created only if Owner/Agent accepts rent from Resident thereafter, and if so accepted, tenancy may be terminated by Resident after service upon the Owner/Agent of a written 30-day Notice of Termination.

This says that the "month-to-month" that others have said happens automatically only happens if you pay rent and they accept it. So if you leave on the end date of your lease, I don't think you've moved to a month-to-month tenancy. And compare the requirement of a written 30-day Notice of Termination in this sentence with the phrase "without further notice" in the initial term.

[I'm a lawyer but not yours and I have no landlord-tenant expertise and I'm not qualified in CA and this is my own personal sitting-on-the-couch-reading-AskMe-over-coffee opinion and all that stuff.]
posted by AgentRocket at 7:10 AM on November 29, 2017 [2 favorites]


(One other point I neglected: it would be helpful to understand the context of the New Provisions Addendum, and specifically (a) the context of that notice requirement, and (b) whether the new provisions control over the body of the agreement in the event of a conflict. That could change the interpretation.)
posted by AgentRocket at 7:13 AM on November 29, 2017


I think that you should call, not email, the landlord. Every apartment that I have ever rented in California that required a lease, was a one year lease that then turned into a month to month lease at the end of one year, with 30 days written notice to cancel after that. That certainly seems to be the custom, but IANAL. Your landlord doesn't seem to check or respond to email but it seems like a question that could be quickly resolved with a phone call.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 11:18 AM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]


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