My lease calls for an automatic one-year renewal at the end of the first year, unless I inform the landlord before the term ends that I will be moving out. I thought that a landlord and tenant had to sign a new lease in order to extend the term for another year; otherwise it automatically became a month-to-month rental agreement. Is an automatic renewal clause legal?
Yes, but only if certain requirements are met. Under state law, a lease provision for the renewal of all or part of the full term of the lease can be valid, where the tenant remains in possession after the lease expires or fails to give notice before the lease expires of his or her intent to vacate (Civil Code sec. 1945.5). However, if the lease is printed, this automatic renewal clause must appear in at least eight-point boldface type, and a statement that this clause is contained in the body of the lease must also appear in eight-point boldface type immediately before the place the tenant signs.
If these requirements are not met, you may void the automatic renewal clause. In this case, if you remain in possession after the lease expires, and the landlord accepts rent, you are presumed to have renewed the agreement on the same terms, except on a month-to-month basis, assuming your rent is due monthly (Civil Code sec. 1945).
My tenant moved into a rent-controlled apartment on March 1, 2001, and signed a lease that ends on February 28, 2002. The rent is $1,000. If he wants to stay after this February, I’d like him to sign another one-year lease. Can I require this, or is he allowed to stay even if he refuses to sign a new lease? Also, if he agrees to a new lease, I know I cannot increase the rent by the 2002 Annual General Adjustment (AGA) because his tenancy began in 2001. But in January 2003, may I increase the rent in accordance with the AGA for that year, or am I stuck with my current rent until the lease expires in March 2003?
At the end of a fixed-term lease, a landlord may require a tenant to sign another lease that is substantially identical to the previous lease; if the tenant refuses, it is grounds for eviction, as long as the landlord does not accept rent from the tenant beyond the term of the first lease period (See the Rent Ordinance, Berkeley Municipal Code section 13.76.130 A.4). If your tenant signs a new one-year lease this year for $1,000, you may increase the rent in January 2003 by the AGA for 2003, only if you include a clause in the lease providing for such an increase.
You can e-mail the City of Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board at email@example.com for individual questions, or you can call or visit the office at 2125 Milvia Street, Berkeley, CA. 94704 (northeast corner of Milvia/Center Streets) Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, between 9 a.m. and 4:45 p.m., and on Wednesday between noon and 4:45 p.m. Our telephone numberberkeley.ca.us/rent/.
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