Did we have a lease extension via email, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

We signed our lease in Feb 2012, the guest bathroom had flooding issue prior. Owner asked if we were willing to stay an extra year he'd be willing to remodel the guest bathroom. We agreed with the owner via email to extend our lease to Feb 2014. We verified the extension agreement with the property manager via email, at which time she checked that we wanted the lease extended from Feb. 2013 versus from the point of that email in August, then replied in the affirmative. Come Sept., the toilet's flooded into the unit below. The owner demanded we pay half, we declined as the insurance company agreed we weren't at fault. Now we're told the owner is exploring his options with the unit and our lease will not be renewed – we can stay month-to-month as long as we show the place!?!

Ventura, CA -

Attorney Answers (2)

James Carl Eschen III

James Carl Eschen III

Landlord / Tenant Lawyer - Santa Cruz, CA
Answered

I will express one of my rare disagreements with Mr. Chen. Your email exchange very likely constituted a writing sufficient to extend your lease. Did you have any sort of signature in the email? A signature need not be a formal signature line; generally putting your name or initials at the end of the email will suffice. Did you discuss signing an extension, or did you just agree to extend?

I would look at your email correspondence to determine whether it was enough for a lease extension.

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Real Estate Attorney - San Marino, CA
Answered

No, not necessarily. You are most likely considered a month to month tenant if you do not have a signed lease renewal or lease amendment. As such, the landlord can terminate your month to month tenancy by giving you a 30 or 60 day notice of termination.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is... more

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