Can a landlord not renew a lease in order to make renovations/up-grades toan apartment unit?

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Can a landlord not renew a lease in order to make renovations/up-grades toan apartment unit?

This is a large apartment complex with over 300 units. The company that owns the complex owns several others around the country and is based in the Washington, DC area. My complex began a renovation program last year, mostly exterior work (new paint, new windows, re-paving asphalt areas, etc.). Now, they’ve announced the interiors of all units will be up-graded with new appliances, counter tops, carpeting, furnace/air conditioning, etc. but as leases expire, the tenant must move out so the renovations can start. When completed, the tenant will have “first right of refusal” to move back in.

Asked on July 14, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A landlord does not have to rent to anyone if they don't want to. That is, a landlord has a right to not rent out its units and take a building out of "circulation," either for a period of of time or even permanently, subject only to--

* if the leases have some automatic renewal clause, that will be enforceable and could require renewal

* any rent control or rent stabilization laws that affect renewal rights

* any other agreements binding the landlord which affect occupancy and renewal (e.g. if the landlord received some tax abatement or credit, the conditions under which it received it may require it to keep renting)

* taking the building out of the rental market temporarily can't be a pretext for illegal discrimiantion (e.g. a way to get rid of a heavily minority group of tenants and re-let to nonminorities)

However, subject to the above, a landlord is not obligated to keep renting the building out, and may take it out of the rental market as leases expire to perform renovations or upgrades.


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