Brooklyn, NY asked in Landlord - Tenant for Pennsylvania

Q: Changing automatic lease renewal period by amendment? No signature

My current lease ends at the end of Nov 2020. I received a certified letter back around August stating that my lease would automatically renew for another year unless I provided notice by September 1st.

Suffice to say, the letter was lost and this did not happen. I want to renew, but at a shorter length. I didn't provide notice to my landlord until a month ago. My landlord is now stating that the lease has already been locked in for the yearly renewal. My original lease and renewal terms are stated as:

This Agreement will automatically renew for successive month to month terms unless either party provides written notice that it will not renew at least 90 days prior to the expiration of the Initial Term or the parties execute a new Residential Lease Contract.

Can I argue that the renewal should be month-to-month based on the original terms of my lease? Can my landlord maintain that by "absence of reply", I agreed to a yearly renewal? I didn't sign any new documents

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1 Lawyer Answer
Nellie T Schulz
Nellie T Schulz
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Philadlephia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: As to your first question, if a yearly lease automatically renews, it renews for the same period of time as the original lease. That's the law even if the lease doesn't say what the length of the renewal term is. In your situation, the lease said the renewal term would be for one year. As to your second question, because your lease requires the tenant to inform the landlord by a certain date that the tenant is opting out if the automatic renewal, the lack of notice gives the landlord the right to consider the lease renewed. At this point, you best chance of getting out of the lease would be through negotiating with the landlord for an early termination of the lease. Often, landlords will agree to shorten the term of the lease and, depending on the rental market where you live, an additional payment to cover the expenses of the landlord's re-letting the space. I have seen landlords agree to allow a termination if the tenant agrees to remain as a tenant for about 3 months. I've also seen landlords who won't agree to an early termination unless the tenant moves out immediately pays 3 or more months' rent, pays the landlord's expenses, and forfeits the entire security deposit. What you may expect the landlord to agree to, as I mentioned, depends a great deal not only on how quickly the apartment may be relet, but your landlord's temperament. Excuses (claims of poverty, family problems, illness, etc) rarely work and often make you appear weak. If you don't feel comfortable or confident in attempting to negotiate with the landlord, you could hire a local real estate attorney to speak for you. The attorney will make sure the landlord puts any agreement reached in a writing he signs.

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