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Rent Watch

'Option to Renew' Clause in Lease Hands Power to the Tenant

February 11, 2001|From Project Sentinel

Question: A prospective tenant has requested that his one-year lease contain an "option to renew" clause. What does this clause mean?

Answer: An "option to renew" clause is an offer from you to your tenant to either renew the lease or to terminate the tenancy once the current lease expires. The most important aspect of this clause is that it gives your tenant, not you, the option to continue the tenancy. After one year, this may not be what you want to happen.

This clause is mostly used in commercial leases, not rental leases. If you decide to include a renew clause, be aware that you must provide for any changes you wish to take effect in the renewed lease. For example, you may want to increase the rent or change the rent due date after one year. Information or conditions not included in the original lease cannot be changed or added to the renewed lease.

Writing "option to renew" clauses can be difficult. Perhaps the best approach is to offer a standard one-year lease without this clause or consult with an attorney before implementing this type of lease. For more information, contact your local housing agency.

Serve Tenants Notice of New No-Pets Policy

Q: I just purchased an apartment complex. The previous owner allowed the tenants to have pets, but I do not want pets in the complex. I know I can't make any changes for my tenants who are on leases, but how do I notify the monthly tenants of the new "no pets" policy?

A: For your month-to-month tenants, you will need to serve a Notice of Change of Terms of Tenancy advising them of the new "no pets" policy. This notice gives your tenants 30 days to take care of the matter. Since most pets are part of a tenant's family, you may want to give your tenants more than 30 days to fulfill this change so that they may place their pets somewhere appropriate.

You also may want to offer your tenants the opportunity to discuss the new "no pets" policy with you in a mediation. Under state and federal fair housing laws, if any of your tenants are mentally and/or physically disabled and have a support animal, you may have to grant a reasonable accommodation to that tenant even though you have a "no pets" policy.

For your tenants who are on leases, you should also inform them of the new "no pets" policy so they can prepare for this change by the end of their lease period. Contact your local landlord-tenant agency for information about the mediation process.

Landlord Not Required to Extend Vacate Date

Q: I am in the process of purchasing a home and gave my landlord a 30-day notice to move by the first of next month. I just learned I will not be able to move into my new home for two months. When I contacted my landlord to let him know that I would be in the apartment longer than stated in my notice, he told me I had to vacate by the date listed on my notice because the apartment had been re-rented. Doesn't the landlord have to give me additional time since I was the one who gave him the notice to move?

A: No. A landlord does not have to extend a 30-day notice to move just because it was initiated by the tenant. You may want to talk with your landlord again about your specific housing dilemma. If he is still unwilling or unable to extend your tenancy and you are unable to move, the landlord has the right to initiate a court eviction against you. To avoid legal action, you should make plans to put your belongings in storage and stay with family or friends. For assistance in talking with your landlord, contact your local landlord-tenant agency.


This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, but cannot be answered individually.

For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Fair Housing Council, Fair Housing Institute or Fair Housing Foundation office in your area:

Bellflower: (562) 901-0808

Carson: (888) 777-4087

El Monte: (626) 579-6868

Hawthorne: (310) 474-1667

Lancaster: (888) 777-4087

Long Beach: (562) 901-0808

Pasadena: (626) 791-0211

Redondo Beach: (888) 777-4087

San Fernando Valley: (818) 373-1185

South-Central Los Angeles: (213) 295-3302

Westside Los Angeles: (310) 474-1667

Orange County: (714) 569-0828

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288

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