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Q: If my tenant’s lease contains an automatic renewal
clause, does that mean I’m trapped in my lease forever?
A: Probably not, but it depends on how the lease is
A landlord client came to me with a problem. He was stuck in a
lease with an uncooperative tenant paying an unreasonably low rent,
and he wanted to know how he could terminate or renegotiate the
lease. The challenge? The lease contained a provision that allowed
the tenant to renew the lease at the end of every lease term,
meaning that the unfavorable terms could conceivably apply forever.
And, while uncooperative, the tenant’s behavior didn’t rise
to the level of a material default, which would allow for a valid
termination of the lease.
When presented with such a situation, the Florida courts
generally disfavor the concept of a lease that continues in
perpetuity. They will try to avoid allowing such a situation to
persist, unless the lease contains very specific language that
shows the parties actually intended the lease to go on forever. For
example, if a lease simply provides renewal upon timely notice from
the tenant, the courts have taken the position that the parties
have obligated themselves to only one renewal – and not
endless – at the end of each successive term.
On the other hand, where a lease provides that it can be renewed
for successive terms (noting the use of the plural
“terms”), without specifying the number of successive
terms or otherwise expressly providing that the lease was intended
to potentially be renewable ad infinitum, the courts have taken the
position that the parties have obligated themselves to only two
renewals, and no more.
In either case, at the expiration of the final renewal term, the
tenancy becomes “at will”, and is then subject to being
terminated in accordance with Sections 83.01 and 83.03, of the
Under Section 83.01, when rent is due under the lease on a
monthly basis, the resulting at-will tenancy will be
month-to-month. In that scenario, under Section 83.03, notice of
termination would need to be given not less than 15 days prior to
the beginning of the next monthly period.
Originally Published by Becker & Poliakoff, November
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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