Q: I am a landlord in St. Paul, and my renter's lease expired in October 2018. My renter stayed in the unit and hasn't renewed the lease or entered into a new lease with management. There is a section in her old lease titled "Duration of Lease," stating that if the tenant and management have not renewed this lease, or entered into a new lease, the lease shall be extended under its original terms except a) the duration is month-to-month, and b) management can raise the rent. There was an addendum signed with the original lease stating that the tenant's rent will be lowered if the tenant agrees to remove snow during the winter.
Does this addendum continue during the month-to-month lease that is now in effect, or do I have to sign a new lease with this tenant to keep that addendum current?
A: When a lease ends before a new lease is signed, and neither party has terminated the lease, that lease becomes a month-to-month lease, regardless of the "Duration of Lease" section. Any addendum signed with the original lease remains in effect in the new month-to-month lease, unless there is some language in the original lease that states it does not carry over. It sounds like there is no such clause stating that the addendum does not carry over, so therefore it is still in effect with the month-to-month lease. Remember, management can raise the tenant's rent only after giving a full one-month's notice. Even though it isn't necessary, the "Duration of Lease" section is a good reminder to tenants about what happens when the tenant or management does nothing after a lease expires.
Q: My daughter is less than two months into her existing lease on her apartment. Yesterday she received an e-mail from her landlord that stated, "We are holding your spot until the end of business tomorrow. After that, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to renew for the exact same room for the next year." However, just last week I called into the main office and was told that last year's renters had several weeks to make this decision about renewing their apartments. How can anyone be expected to make a decision in under 24 hours? It seems like scare tactics to take advantage of already anxious students! Can you tell me if my daughter has any tenant rights in this situation?
A: Tenants have many rights, but there is no Minnesota law that specifically regulates how landlords communicate and market apartments for renewal to their current tenants. Therefore, this 24-hour timeline that your daughter's landlord gave her is legal, but does put some pressure on the building's tenants. Some landlords use these pressure tactics since the tenants have the upper hand and can find a better place to live, thereby leaving units unoccupied for the following year. Understanding that this is a pressure tactic, and that apartments really aren't going that fast, should relieve some of your daughter's anxiety. Most tenants are not going to renew their apartments when they are only two months into their lease.
You should contact the landlord and request that your daughter be given additional time to make her decision, since the office just gave you a verbal agreement last week. Landlords want their tenants to like where they live, so that tenants want to stay and renew their lease for another year. If you contact the office and state you are disappointed in the e-mail notice your daughter received, after you were told something different, the landlord will most likely reinstate the original deadline for your daughter. Remember, do not renew the lease before your daughter is sure she wants to remain in that building and in her current unit.
Kelly Klein is a Minneapolis attorney. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your particular issues. E-mail renting questions to email@example.com. Information provided by readers is not confidential.