Camp Hill, PA asked in Civil Litigation, Landlord - Tenant and Real Estate Law for Pennsylvania

Q: Pennsylvania: Can a landlord force you to sign a new lease after signing the lease renewal request three months earlier?

I signed a lease renewal request form in November that obligated me to the prior lease agreement. The lease renewal was for 24 months with "all other lease terms will remain the same." This month, my landlord sent me a new lease and stated that I must sign it with the addendums. The new lease has a lot of changes that I question and do not agree to. What can I do in this situation? Am I obligated to sign the 'new' lease or can I tell them that I already signed the lease renewal agreement that obligated me to prior lease terms? What can they do if I refuse to sign the new one? Are they obligated to stick to the prior lease agreement?

The lease renewal state: I would like to renew my lease for an additional xx months with a monthly rent amount of (****). In addition, if resident desires to terminate this agreement earlier than the expiration of the lease The Early Termination clause will apply.

2 Lawyer Answers
Nellie T Schulz
Nellie T Schulz
Answered
  • Philadlephia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: It may sound as though the lease renewal request document limits the changes that could be made to the actual lease renewal, however, a definitive answer can’t be given unless the existing lease, the lease renewal request, the proposed new lease, and any interim correspondence between you and the landlord is read and analyzed by an attorney, and there may still be ambiguities after such an analysis. Here are just a few of the items that would need to be considered by the attorney. The fact that the term “renewal” as opposed to an “extension” may be of some significance. A “renewal” is a “novation” (meaning “new”agreement), while an “extension” is a continuation of a existing agreement. It would be more likely that a renewal would have more changes than an extension. The “lease renewal request“ itself may not be binding on either party, especially in light of the fact that it wasn’t called a “contract” or “agreement”. The underlying existing lease may contain provisions which may affect a renewal or extension of it. You don’t say whether the lease renewal request or the proposed lease said anything about a change in the rent or not do you describe the type of changes between the existing lease and the proposed lease. It’s possible the changes may be necessary to comply with new ordinances or changes in rules or regulations which affect the entire rental development. I don’t know. And I could go on about the many other aspects of the documents the attorney would have to consider to make a determination as to whether the proposed lease complies with the landlord’s obligations under the lease renewal request.

Nellie T Schulz
Nellie T Schulz
Answered
  • Philadlephia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: A: It may sound as though the lease renewal request document limits the changes that could be made to the actual lease renewal, however, a definitive answer can’t be given unless the existing lease, the lease renewal request, the proposed new lease, and any interim correspondence between you and the landlord is read and analyzed by an attorney, and there may still be ambiguities after such an analysis. Here are just a few of the items that would need to be considered by the attorney. The fact that the term “renewal” as opposed to an “extension” may be of some significance. A “renewal” is a “novation” (meaning “new”agreement), while an “extension” is a continuation of a existing agreement. It would be more likely that a renewal would have more changes than an extension. The “lease renewal request“ itself may not be binding on either party, especially in light of the fact that it wasn’t called a “contract” or “agreement”. The underlying existing lease may contain provisions which may affect a renewal or extension of it. You don’t say whether the lease renewal request or the proposed lease said anything about a change in the rent or not do you describe the type of changes between the existing lease and the proposed lease. It’s possible the changes may be necessary to comply with new ordinances or changes in rules or regulations which affect the entire rental development. I don’t know. And I could go on about the many other aspects of the documents the attorney would have to consider to make a determination as to whether the proposed lease complies with the landlord’s obligations under the lease renewal request.

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