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This is for the state of Colorado.

My current tenants' lease expires on 6/30/2016. I informed them on 4/20/2016 that I was planning to sell the house, but that the terms of their lease would not be affected unless they wanted to move out early, which I even offered them money for doing so.

Since then, they have been very difficult regarding granting me access to the property in order to assess/plan renovations before listing it. They have also asked to use their security deposit as last month's rent to ease some of the financial strain of moving. Although I fully recognize this strain and can empathize 100%, I denied this request as I am aware of quite a bit of damage and unauthorized modifications that will require that security deposit to repair.

I have tried to contact them to see how the new-house-hunting was coming along and mostly to get a good sense that they will in fact be moving out on or before 6/30. Responses have been very vague and from the latest one, it does not sound like they have found a place yet and are planning to be out at the end of their lease.

Here is the language from the lease regarding the matter:

NOTICE TO QUIT AND HOLDOVER. At least 30 days prior to the expiration of the Agreement Term, Tenant shall provide Landlord with written notice of Tenant’s intention to vacate the Premises by the end of the Agreement Term. If such notice is not timely given, Tenant shall be liable for the rent due for the following month, if the Premises is not rented to another tenant. If Tenant continues in possession of the Premises after the expiration of the Agreement Term, Tenant shall be deemed a holdover tenant and the tenancy shall be month-to-month. During such holdover tenancy, the monthly rent shall be $3500 and all other terms and conditions of this Agreement shall remain in effect, and Tenant must provide Landlord with 30 days’ written notice of Tenant’s intention to vacate the Premises. Landlord may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by providing 30 days’ written notice to Tenant.


Edit
And here's how the term of the lease is defined:

  1. AGREEMENT TERM. The term of the Agreement begins on 07-01-2015, and it ends at 11:59 p.m. on 06-30-2016 (“Agreement Term”).

A couple questions:

  1. was the notice I gave on 4/20/2016 sufficient for informing them that they would not be given the option to renew their lease and that they may not stay on a month-to-month basis either? or can they get away with claiming they were not given proper notice and and stay an extra month, requiring me to give 30 days notice to terminate their month-to-month stay?
  2. the rental market here is seriously booming... and the "hot" season for selling is all but completely wound down for the year. I am having serious thoughts about aborting the plan to list the house for sale and continue renting. Even if I do continue to rent, I do not want to rent to the current tenants, as they have been quite deceitful/dishonest, broken many of the "house rules" and have not kept the house in an acceptable state of repair. Will this cause a problem since the reason I gave for them having to move out was my intention to sell the house? or am I free to change my mind at will?

Thank you all in advance for any wisdom/insight you may have to share.

  • Can you add more details on what the lease says? Is written notice defined? Does the lease describe how written notice must be given? What is the term of lease? How, exactly, is the clause describing the term written? – Mr_V Jun 29 '16 at 12:29
  • In a general sense, "written notice" is not defined anywhere in the lease nor is there any language at all that dictates how written notice must be given. The term of the lease is 1 year - see edit above for exact wording. – Daveh0 Jun 29 '16 at 18:40
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Saying that you intend to sell the house (and offering an out for early termination) is not the same as providing written notice that the tenant must leave. The clause you cite says that you "may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by providing 30 days’ written notice to Tenant", so the question is whether you did that. At the end of the lease period, the tenant may remain even if the lease is not renewed, and they become holdover tenants. You can subsequently boot them out, after 30 day's notice (plus legal processing time, if it comes to that). However regardless of what the lease says, you have to obey Colorado law, so note Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-40-107(1) which says

(1) A tenancy may be terminated by notice in writing, served not less than the respective period fixed before the end of the applicable tenancy, as follows: (a) A tenancy for one year or longer, three months

104(c-e) defines "unlawful detention" as applicable to tenants; you have to state your legal basis, sign it, and deliver it to the tenant.

The question then is whether you served them a proper demand per section 104, in writing per 106, served in a timely fashion per 107 and manner per 108. If so, they should leave when the lease is up, and if they don't, then there is the whole eviction process. Serving notice according to the law is quite important.

[Addendum]

Pursuant to §13-40-107(4), if the lease terminates at a specific time (i.e. it actually says "expires June 30, 2016" or something like that), no notice to quit is required.

Having located a relevant case, First Interstate Bank v. Tanktech, Inc., 864 P.2d 116 says that "The operation of the holdover tenancy doctrine in Colorado is well established. A holdover tenant is one who continues in possession of the premises beyond the term of the lease...Once a lease expires and the tenant remains in possession of the premises, the landlord may elect to treat the tenant as a trespasser, or may waive the wrong of holding over and continue the tenancy. In the latter case, and in the absence of a new agreement, the law implies a new contract between the parties based upon the same terms and conditions as the expired lease. It is also true that the acceptance of rent by a landlord upon expiration of the lease is sufficient to create a holdover tenancy." (emphasis added, citations omitted). The court also note in this case that the landlord failed to repudiate the prior lease, suggesting that explicit repudiation is a good idea.

  • Ok so you're saying that for them to be legally required to vacate on 6/30/2016 (the last day of the lease term), I would have had to give them official written notice with language specifically stating that their lease would not be renewed 3 months prior... which it seems I have not sufficiently done with the initial email I sent. Is this accurate? – Daveh0 Jun 28 '16 at 21:13
  • I think it depends on whether the lease automatically renews: it somewhat seems to. I suspect that you need to take the lease to an attorney. The holdover clause is problematic. – user6726 Jun 28 '16 at 22:33
  • Let me rephrase that: call right now. Normally, the tenant must leave at the end, and I do not know what the effect of a holdover clause is in Colorado. Hence the attorney recommendation. – user6726 Jun 28 '16 at 23:05
  • 1
    So I was just about get in touch with a real estate lawyer I've used in the past when the tenant contacted me saying he found a place and would be out on the 30th, which he was. Problem solved for me. Unfortunately I think my lack of confirmation of the info provided in this answer means it needs to remain unanswered? Mods? It is the closest tho.... – Daveh0 Jul 1 '16 at 18:55
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I'm not from Colorado (or even the US), but by my reading of your post -

  1. Unless you stated something additional in your communications with them that you did not reproduce here, you did not give the tenants notice to vacate - if anything you did the opposite by stating "the terms of their lease would not be affected". I would say they certainly have a claim they were not given proper notice.

  2. This answer could vary between jurisdictions, but I would be surprised if you had any obligation to continue to renting to them. I don't believe you have a duty to the tenants to not change your mind for the reason you are terminating an agreement - ie the reason you are terminating would seem irrelevant provided you give them notice as per your jurisdictions laws and agreement. (The reason you want the place vacant is of no consequence to them, only the fact that you want them to vacate).

  • A couple of points: First, it is possible if not likely that there are other terms in the lease allowing the landlord to give notice that the lease is not to be renewed (which should be noted in the question if true). Second, the reason the landlord wants the place vacant can be relevant in some jurisdictions. For example, in New York, it is possible for a building owner to evict tenants so the building owner or family members can occupy the apartment, if the number of units in the building is sufficiently small (6 or fewer, if I recall correctly). – phoog Jun 28 '16 at 20:46
  • I agree with your statement, however I put to you that neither applies in this case - I stated in point 1 "Unless you stated something additional in your communications"... and they are not trying to invoke special exceptions in the lease to get them to terminate - they simply want to give 1 months notice or terminate the lease at the end of the period. No reason need be given - they are legally entitled to do so. – davidgo Jun 28 '16 at 20:57
  • The only thing in the lease pertaining to end-of-lease and proper notification has been included in the original question. – Daveh0 Jun 28 '16 at 21:06
  • @Daveh0 Well it turns out that the eviction I mentioned earlier applies to rent-regulated apartments; in those apartments, tenants have a right to renew the lease; the landlord may not terminate it unilaterally except in limited circumstances. It seems unlikely that a similar system applies here, but it is possible. I did not downvote your answer, by the way. – phoog Jun 28 '16 at 22:01

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