What Is Your Right as a Tenant When Your Lease Ends?

At the end of the period of time set forth in the lease, the landlord may choose to terminate the agreement and take possession of the rental property from the tenant. Typically, the rental agreement states that the landlord must provide written notice to the tenant thirty (30) days prior to the expiration of the lease term of the landlord's intention to take back possession of the rental property (and the tenant will have to move out at the end of the lease term).

However, the lease may have a provision under which the tenant is given an "option" to renew the lease for a specified amount of time. If the tenant is not in default at the time of the expiration of the lease term, the tenant may be able to send written notice to the landlord of his/her intention to exercise the option of renewal and continue to use and occupy the rental premises for the duration of the option period.

Many leases state that if the lease is not renewed as of the expiration of the lease term (such as a six month lease without an option to renew for an additional six months), that the lease term will automatically be set as a month-to-month lease.

Under a month-to-month lease, both the landlord and the tenant may give thirty (30) days notice to the other party of his/her intention to terminate the rental agreement. Typically this notice must be provided to the other party in writing. In the event that less than thirty (30) days notice is provided, the notice could be disregarded and the rental agreement continues. For example, if a tenant gives notice to the landlord on July 15, 1998 of his intention to vacate the rental property on August 1, 1998, this notice is defective and the landlord can continue to hold the tenant responsible for the payment of rent for the rental property for the month of August 1998.