If a landlord bought property over a year ago and didn’t enforce a new lease or increase the rent amount at that time, can they do so now?

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If a landlord bought property over a year ago and didn’t enforce a new lease or increase the rent amount at that time, can they do so now?

Now that I been month-to-month for 5 months now they want me to resign a lease under them. The rent will be for a higher amount. If I don’t sign the lease I have 60 days to get out. Is this a legal? And weren’t they supposed to enforce they lease if they bought the property with all new terms?

Asked on February 17, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If there was a written lease in place when they bought the property, that lease would remain in effect for the balance of its term (i.e. until its end date).

If a tenant is month to month, such as because a lease had previously expired, either party (landlord or tenant) may terminate the rental on 30 days notice (or on longer notice, if the party chooses to provide longer notice)--that's the  very definition, so to speak of a month to month tenancy; it is a tenancy for only one month at a time.

Alternately, instead of terminating the tenancy outright, the landlord can propose new lease terms and/or a higher rent; the tenancy will be terminated if the tenant does not agree. It is the owner's property, after all; (s)he can set the rate or amount at which (s)he rents it.

Even if a landlord has accepted a given rent for several  months under a month to month tenancy, (s)he can, on 30 days notice, state that a higher rent will be required.

So, it would appear that what the new landlord is doing is legal, unless there was an in-force written lease when they bought the property. In that case, they can't make any changes or raise the rent until the lease expires; but when it does, they do not need to renew it under the same terms, but could either refuse to renew or change the terms (including rent).


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