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?

UPDATED: Feb 17, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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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