Sign lease or move?
May 27, 2007 3:59 PM   Subscribe

Sign lease or move?

My lease is up for Sept. 1 but my landlord is asking for an answer by June 1.

I have lived alone for a long time but could save a chunk of change if I would move into an apartment with roommates. Since I have a pet and a good amount of stuff, I will have to find a room that is pretty big in an apartment that allows cats and is in a convenient location.

I am pretty sure I could find an apartment with nice roommates that meets these criteria, but I don't think I can do it by the time my landlord wants an answer. I hesitate to not sign the lease and then (possibly) not find a good new roommate situation and be forced to move somewhere that I don't want to. Moving is really unpleasant, so I only want to do it if I'll save a significant amount of money and find an apartment I think I'll enjoy living in.

How do I handle the request to give my landlord notice ASAP? It's a big management company, and I feel it's unlikely that they'll make an exception in my case. What if I don't sign the lease and then change my it likely that I could stay if someone new has signed the lease for my apartment?

[Side note: it's quite likely that I'll only be staying in the area another 12-18 this case, any thoughts on whether saving about $3-$4k over this timeframe is worth the hassle and lifestyle change of moving in with strangers only to have to move again before long?]
posted by mintchip to Grab Bag (7 answers total)
You mention that you have a lot of stuff- in my experience, moving can be a real hassle, and it might be worth just staying in the current situation if you're only going to be in the area for another year or so. On the other hand, if you truly will save as much as four grand, it might be worth the associated hassles of moving.

It would be thoughtful of you to provide a decision to your landlord by June 1st as he requested, but by no means mandatory. I'm not sure where you're located, but landlord/tenant law in California and Berkeley requires you to give notice 30 days before the end of your lease-which is a while from now. Why not begin looking for the right situation, and tell your landlord politely that you're currently undecided and you'll tell him/her as soon as you make a decision.
posted by arnicae at 4:23 PM on May 27, 2007

It really depends on your local housing market. In larger metropolitan areas, housing is plentiful and options varied, making three months more than adequate to find a good rooming situation. In smaller markets with less turnover, you might be taking more of a gamble, although three months is still a long time.

It can't hurt to ask the management company for an extra month or two. The worst they can do is say no. Check your lease to see if they are required to give you more time to decide whether to renew. Also, if you provide your jurisdiction information in the thread, you may get some responses addressing the effect, if any, your local laws have on your situation. One thing is clear: if you don't renew and someone else signs a lease on your apartment, you are out of luck, so don't let that happen unless you are ready to leave.
posted by brain_drain at 5:17 PM on May 27, 2007

Read your lease. If you have to give 30 days notice, give 30 days notice, no more.

When I've rented, the lease stated that once the lease term was up, the conditions remained the same (except for possible rent increases), and it reverted to a month-to-month lease where all you had to give was 30 days notice. If that's the way yours is written, you can take your time and make your decsion on your schedule.
posted by Doohickie at 5:29 PM on May 27, 2007

I second Doohickie

Most leases call for only 30 days notice, this company seems to be pushing that time frame quite a bit!
posted by crewshell at 6:06 PM on May 27, 2007

Where are you at? Tenant laws are regulated city-by-city (at least in California). But here's my paranoid interpretation if you live in Oakland or another city with rent control and "just cause eviction" laws. (IANAL, btw, this is just something I read about, and there are probably other facts I haven't heard.)

In Oakland, even if your lease is up and you're on a month to month situation, they have to give you something like 60-90 days notice to get you to move out. One of the few "just causes" for eviction is that you turned down the opportunity to sign a lease with similar terms to your previous one.

So my suspicious interpretation of why they're asking you so early if you'll renew is so that if you turn them down, they can say, in a rather friendly way, "okay then, you have to move out when your lease expires 60 days from now. Here's your 60-day notice of eviction." In other words, they're trying to get you out the minute your lease is up.

There are at least two reasons they might want to do that. Here, rent control says they can only boost rent on current tenants by ~3%/year. If you move out, they can ask the new tenant for whatever rent they want. If your rent is pretty far below market value, they might want to get a new higher-paying tenant ASAP. Another possibility is that they're really worried about vacancies during some later "slow season." Maybe they think September is a great time to find a new year-lease-signing tenant (if you live in a college town, say), and they don't want your lease to be month-to-month and then have you move out in February when they'd have a harder time finding new tenants).

Anyway, you might want to find out what your local tenant laws are so you can see if they have some insidious plan, and if they do, how to parry. In the meantime, I'd delay answering them -- I doubt they'd have the right to give you a 60-day notice if you just were still thinking about it (though maybe there's some legal time limit on how long they have to give you to think). It's also completely possible your landlord is just an overachiever and I'm being paranoid. :)
posted by salvia at 9:04 PM on May 27, 2007

Thanks for the info., everyone. I live in Boston. Anyone have any idea about the tenant/landlord laws here?
posted by mintchip at 9:22 PM on May 27, 2007

This is not that unusual a lease provision in a tight market. My lease (in NYC) says the same thing -- my management co. has a right to four months' notice of whether I'm staying or going. And if I don't re-sign the lease, they have a right to show the place for those entire last four months, which sucks (keep that in mind as a factor -- the stream of people they'd be bringing into your home to see if they want to rent it.)

Obviously, if it doesn't actually specify the four months' notice in your lease, then the situation is different. Take a look and make sure it does. But I wouldn't be surprised if it does.
posted by sparrows at 4:41 AM on May 28, 2007

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