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An excerpt from a mail sent to a real estate agent by a tenant in a situation where the notice for not renewing a real estate contract is 2 months. The time period of 2 months has been agreed by both parties at the time of contract.

My contract renewal is happening on the month of June 2017. I am happy to continue in the same apartment if we can find a mutually agreeable rent amount. In the case that it is not so, Please do consider this as my notice for vacating the apartment.

Suppose the negotiation for rent breaks down in May, can the agent argue that the mail above does not suffice as a notice ? Does the content above serve as a sufficient notice of vacating ?

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  • Jurisdiction needed.
    – Nij
    Apr 19 '17 at 21:16
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Legal talk has to be "definite", and it is insufficient, when it comes to "giving notice", to give a hint as to a probable instruction. If a contract requires you to notify the other party of a decision before a certain date, then you have to give an unambiguous, unconditional answer by that date. Before the end of April, if you determine that the currently offered rate is not acceptable and you therefore do not accept the offer, then you need to explicitly notify then of non-renewal. Describing a hypothetical situation whereby you would or would not terminate the contract is not clear enough. Suppose, for example, that for some other reason you discover that you want out of the arrangement before the deadline (maybe you realized that the place smells bad), but you have actually arrived at an agreeable price – it's just that your interest in the place has changed. You still have the right to cancel the agreement: your "please consider" statement is not a promise to continue the contract if and only if price issues are (eventually) worked out.

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My contract renewal is happening on the month of June 2017. I am happy to continue in the same apartment if we can find a mutually agreeable rent amount. In the case that it is not so, Please do consider this as my notice for vacating the apartment.

This should constitute sufficient notice to comply with the lease.

What is said is equivalent to saying, "I give notice that I am vacating", but that I will entertain subsequent offers to enter into a new lease on different terms.

The tenant isn't making an equivocal statement that is not definite or merely a probably statement. The tenant has made a definite statement that is in the court of the landlord.

There is never a time at which the landlord is uncertain of the meaning of that statement. Until a modification agreement is reached, the notice is in force. If a modification agreement is reached, it invalidated the lease.

Also, prefacing a statement in the feminine language of "Please do consider" has been held in case law (most of which I haven't read since law school) to not detract from the fact that it is a binding instruction. Courts interpret that kind of preface as being used to phrase an definite statement in a polite manner and not as a discretionary statement that the recipient can interpret as he wishes or not. Despite the notion that "please" sometimes indicates discretion of the part of the receiver, it does not have that legal meaning in this kind of construction. For example:

"Confirming our telephone conversation please be advised that my client has elected to cancel the contract because of the fact that a firm mortgage commitment has not been obtained within the 60 day period as called for under the contract.", was held sufficient to convey a definite intent to cancel the contract. Weston Builders & Developers, Inc. v. McBerry, LLC, 891 A.2d 430, 467 (Court of Special Appeals 2006).

"Please consider this letter as official notification that on March 14, 1996 at the regular meeting of the Monroe County/Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Board of Education action was taken to nonrenew your current administrative contract that expires July 31, 1996.", was held to be adequate notice of termination in State ex rel. Haught v. the Monroe County Board of Education, 98-LW-4666, 784 (Court of Appeals of Ohio, October 16, 1998).

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  • Hmm. I don't disbelieve you, but do you have any case law that goes along with that take on the law?
    – user6726
    Apr 20 '17 at 20:37
  • Sorry for being vague, the particular aspect I was interested in is the idea that a conditional notice is equivalent to a definite notice, in light of saying "I am happy to continue in the same apartment".
    – user6726
    Apr 20 '17 at 21:45
  • @user6726 I don't think that this is really a conditional notice. If it had said "I am happy to continue in the same apartment if the Colorado Rockies win their next game.", I would agree this was not an effective notice. But, the fact that the thing that the notice is conditioned upon is a mutually agreed change in the legal agreement between the sender of the notice and the recipient of the notice that the notice is made pursuant to, I think changes the analysis, both because it is in control of the landlord and because it merely restates something that is always true whether stated or not.
    – ohwilleke
    Apr 21 '17 at 2:01
  • I sketched my issue with the statement in chat.
    – user6726
    Apr 21 '17 at 2:23

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