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  1. #1
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: ARIZONA

    Our lease agreement calls for the last month’s rent in advance and also states that:
    At the expiration of the fixed lease term, the lease “shall become a month-to-month tenancy upon the approval of landlord. Where said term is a month-to-month tenancy, either party may terminate this tenancy by the serving of a 30 day written notice.”

    We began to worry last month (which happened to be the last month of the original fixed lease term) when their rent, as we saw it, became nearly 2 weeks past due. So my husband drove by the property, hoping he might see them and be able to talk over the situation in a friendly manner. They were not there but he thought it looked like things were being packed up for a move so we phoned them right away. But they firmly denied that they were planning to move and said that they were only moving certain things in or out of storage and getting rid of some things. We reminded them that if they wanted to end the lease they needed to give us a written notice of termination.

    But later that week we discovered they HAD moved out and the utilities were turned off and the house was left wide open and in a dreadful state. When we tried calling their cell phone they were hostile and would even hang up on us. The neighbors told us they would see them there picking up the mail so we ended up posting a notice on the door, formally stating that we wanted to do an inspection and that we expected them to pay the rent. They reacted angrily saying we wouldn’t get a cent out of them and we had no right to enter until they returned the keys at the end of the month.
    We were afraid after that and didn’t go in there until after the end of the month, but the keys were never returned and no written notice of termination ever came.

    We’re currently in the process of repairing all the damage and trying to get it back into a rentable state. It’s obvious from the damage that they breeched many terms of the lease agreement and they did not maintain it properly and didn’t inform us of problems we needed to fix, allowing them to develop into major and costly issues.

    The fact that they didn’t give notice or ask for their security deposit strengthens our believe that they planned well and fully intended to just move away without our knowing and leave us holding the bag with a vacant rental home that will take much time and cost far more than the deposit to make rentable again.

    We didn’t give them any termination notice and presume that is enough to imply our approval of the rental agreement changing to the month to month basis. Is that wrong? Did they have a right to leave when they did without giving us written notice? Does the last month’s rent apply to the last month they were actually there or to the last month they would state in a 30 day termination notice?

    I’d really appreciate some advice on where we stand in this situation and what we can actually do to put things right.
    Thanks very much, - Nana

  2. #2
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    Sep 2005
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    Default Re: Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    Quote Quoting Nana in PHX
    View Post
    Our lease agreement calls for the last month’s rent in advance and also states that:
    At the expiration of the fixed lease term, the lease “shall become a month-to-month tenancy upon the approval of landlord. Where said term is a month-to-month tenancy, either party may terminate this tenancy by the serving of a 30 day written notice.”
    From what you're telling us, the tenant neither sought nor received your approval to extend the lease. Your language does not suggest automatic extension of the lease into a month-to-month tenancy in the absence of your approval. Under that language they cannot automatically extend the lease - the most they can do is ask. The lease ends unless you act.
    Quote Quoting Nana in PHX
    The fact that they didn’t give notice or ask for their security deposit strengthens our believe that they planned well and fully intended to just move away without our knowing and leave us holding the bag with a vacant rental home that will take much time and cost far more than the deposit to make rentable again.
    Yes, it would appear that they intended to move at the end of the initial lease term, but for some reason didn't want you to know. You, being (no offense) a rookie landlord started to act appropriately but got cold feet about inspecting the unit even when you had pretty much figured out what was going on. And as you never approved a lease renewal, they can point to the lease language if you try to claim that the lease automatically renewed or that they had to give notice that they were leaving at the end of the fixed term.

    Are we talking about an extreme amount of damage that your contractors can't reasonably get fixed within a week or two, or are we talking about damage that could be fixed quickly but took longer than it otherwise would have because you live far away from the rental and/or chose to do the repairs yourself?
    Quote Quoting Nana in PHX
    We didn’t give them any termination notice and presume that is enough to imply our approval of the rental agreement changing to the month to month basis. Is that wrong?
    Yes, that's wrong.
    Quote Quoting Nana in PHX
    Did they have a right to leave when they did without giving us written notice?
    From what you've told us so far, they had the right to leave at the end of the original lease term.
    Quote Quoting Nana in PHX
    Does the last month’s rent apply to the last month they were actually there or to the last month they would state in a 30 day termination notice?
    It applies to their last month of tenancy which, from what you've told us, is the last month of the original lease term.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    Adding to what Mr. Knowitalll said, your should've included in your lease some lannuage that 30 days prior to lease expiration, the tenant is to give you notice to vacate, and unless they do so, the tenancy automatically becomes month to month, and the tenant is required to give you 30 days notice as required by law.

    I had an attorney review my leases when I started landlording, and this is one particular issue I raised.

    If your lease contains none of the above language, then the tenant has no obligation to notify you. Yes, a move-out walkthrough should be done, and the tenant would be responsible for whatever damages. As to further rent, NO, based on what you said. I would agree that they are off the hook.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    I forgot to mention that it is not because we have chosen to do any of this work ourselves. It is simply necessary that we be as resourceful as possible and do whatever we can on our own because we simply cannot afford to pay the cost that some of the contractors estimated. - Nana

  5. #5
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    Sep 2010
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    Default Re: Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    Just checked back on this and discovered that the message I wrote and thought I posted before the previous one is not showing up here. Must have done something wrong and apologize for causing this to seem so confused. I'll try to write it again now and post it properly this time.

    Thanks to all who have taken their time to straighten us out on this. It is disheartening to learn some of these things but I know we have to accept the facts and at least we can learn from it so it won't happen again.

    You are absolutely correct about our "rookie" status and I assure you there is no offense taken.

    And YES, we are talking about what we consider to be a great deal of damage. If we’d had 6 or 7 thousand dollars to put into it, I’m sure we could have done it more efficiently without having to contribute so much of our own time and energy. But as I said in the previous post, we had to keep the costs down. We’ve had competent workmen and have pushed hard to complete it all in order to be able to rent it as quickly as possible and have it generate some income again. Does the fact that we may have slowed up the progress by doing some things ourselves make a difference????

    One more thing I’d like to be sure about…
    Does the fact that we specifically asked these tenants in both July and August if they were planning to move and were clearly told that they were not. Does the fact that we did not have any objection to that or that they KNEW we did not expect them to move and that we did not object to their continuing to rent the property, carry any possible weight with regard to the “landlord approval” issue? … or is that still only wishful thinking?

    Thanks very much, again, to you that have been kind enough to answer us and to anyone who may have something more to say in order to help us handle this in the best way we can.

    - Nana

  6. #6
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    Mar 2008
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    Default Re: Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    One thing about real estate transactions, and a lease is a real estate transaction, is they must all be in writing, and written agreements supercede oral ones, always. If they said in July and Aug they have no plans to move, it means nothing.

    It is also possible that they may be looking for something larger or cheaper or both, and are under NO OBLIGATION to tell you that, and may not know themselves if they are going for it.

    I was a tenant for about two years after I married, and a landlord now for over 30 years. I usually like to play it straight, and a month before my lease was up, I notifed the landlord I was moving at the end of the lease. Turned out to be a big mistake.

    There was a clause in the lease that says that once I give my notice, the landlord now has the right to come in with 24 hours notice to show the place, and that's any time of the day or night, even when I'm at work. During one of these showings, all of wife's jewelry, that she accumulated since she was a young girl, were all stolen.

    We lost about $5,0000 to $10,000.

    My wife is not into jewelry, and it's more of sentimental value. Some of her kin folk gives her a presents of jewelry on her important birthdays, such as the 10th, 13th, 16th, High School graduation etc., and at the time, her grandma, who gave her the most memorable pieces, was long dead.

    Through the years, some tenants give me little or no notice before moving, and often none of their fault, as often they don't know that themselves. One guy was all excited about a terrific job offer that he wasn't expecting to get. So what am I supposed to say "sorry, but you didn't give me enough notice"?? There's a human side to landlording too!!

    Having gone through what I gone through, I understand.

    On the other hand, I am not that forgiving on damages. Often though, I have contractors at the ready, and it's done within a week, and I rent it out again with a 10 day gap at most. I'm slow, so even if I did it myself, I wind up losing money.

    The only exception is sometimes everyone I called is busy for the next month, and I roll up my sleeves and get to it right away. I often don't have badly damaged units, so I show it in the middle of painting with drop clothes covering everything. New tenants are usually happy to see the place being fixed, because most landlords around here don't bother.

    In fact, some tenants leave the units with a very bad odor, and I find people coming to look while I'm paintinng can't smell the bad odor.

    So far, in 30 years, I charged a tenant's parents, who guaranteed the lease about $300 to replace about 6 doors that she ruined. Other than that, a painter may charge me another $100 on top of his regular rates if he has to do extra spackling. I absorb the costs as part of doing business.

    One thing is to not get a tenant real upset. My dad made that mistake, and a mad tenant poured cement down his sewer pipes which had to be all replaced after ripping some walls. costing thousands of dollars. If he just kept his month shut about some minor damage the tenant did, he would've been way ahead of the game.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
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    4

    Default Re: Does a Tenant Have to Give Notice to Move at the End of Initial Lease Term

    That's just awful about your wife's jewelry! Were the police notified? It shouldn't have been too difficult for them to narrow down the suspects since your landlord had to know whom he had taken into your place. In fact, didn't he have some responsibility with regard to that? What a sad thing to have happened!

    I guess I'm coming on as being pretty hard-nosed about this. Probably over reacting to having been so easy and trusting with these tenants before and not wanting to do things to upset them or to make it seem that we didn't trust them. If it weren't for them taking advantage of that and deceiving us in order to get away and leave us to deal with all the damage they'd done, I'm sure we would have continued being understanding and accomodating landlords.

    Anyway, I'll give up on the hope that anything verbal might be useful in our situation and realize that rent payments are not a relevant issue. But we must have some kind of recourse for the damages, although I'm discouraged there, too, since they've made it pretty clear that we won't get another cent from them no matter what, so even if we sue them and win we might as well forget collecting anything. Is there some way the law can enforce that a judgement is paid, or are we just throwing away time and money that we can't afford to waste by doing anything further?

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