Santa Ana, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: What happens when a 12-month lease expires?

If the landlord and tenant do nothing, does the lease automatically convert to month-to-month? If the landlord offers another 12-month lease, does the tenant have to accept it or can the tenant not sign a new lease and go month-to-month instead if this is not the landlord's preference? If no new lease is signed, does the tenancy in that case have to become month-to-month unless the landlord give notice to terminate it?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, when a fixed-term lease (such as a 12-month lease) expires, the following generally applies:

1. Automatic conversion to month-to-month: If neither the landlord nor the tenant takes action to terminate the tenancy or sign a new lease, the lease automatically converts to a month-to-month tenancy under the same terms and conditions as the original lease. This is often referred to as a "holdover tenancy."

2. Landlord offers a new lease: If the landlord offers the tenant a new fixed-term lease (e.g., another 12-month lease), the tenant is not obligated to accept it. The tenant can choose to either accept the new lease terms or continue on a month-to-month basis under the terms of the original lease.

3. Tenant's right to go month-to-month: Even if the landlord prefers the tenant to sign a new fixed-term lease, the tenant has the right to continue the tenancy on a month-to-month basis if they do not sign a new lease. The landlord cannot force the tenant to enter into a new fixed-term lease.

4. Landlord's right to terminate: If the landlord does not want to continue the tenancy on a month-to-month basis, they must provide the tenant with proper notice to terminate the tenancy. In California, for a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord must give at least 30 days' notice if the tenant has resided in the unit for less than one year, or 60 days' notice if the tenant has resided in the unit for one year or more.

In summary, if no new lease is signed after a fixed-term lease expires in California, the tenancy automatically becomes month-to-month, unless the landlord properly terminates the tenancy according to state law.

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