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I rented an apartment in 2015 off Craigslist. The guy who owned it was generally friendly, and when we discussed what would happen after the lease ends he said it would go month to month and I'd need to give him 60 days notice when I was ready to move out. The building was recently bought by a company. I have not signed anything with that company, and they have owned the building for about 3 months.

I told them today (August 2nd) that I intended to vacate at the end of 60 days. They told me that since I told them in August (not July 31st) I would be required to pay rent for September and October instead of just 60 days.

Here is what the lease says:

  1. Holdover by Lessee. Should Lessee remain in possession of the demised premises with the consent of the Lessor after the natural expiration of this lease, a new month-to-month tenancy shall be created between Lessor and Lessee, which shall be subject to all the terms and conditions hereof but shall be terminated on 58 days' or two rental periods, written notice served by either Lessor or Lessee on the other party.

What does the 58 days' or two rental periods mean? Do I get to choose? Do they get to choose? Can I terminate my September 30th (58 or 59 days) and avoid paying for rent in October assuming I served written notice to them tomorrow?

Why would it say "58 days or two rentals periods"?

To make things more confusing, there is this statute in Minnesota:

(Emphasis mine) 504B.145 RESTRICTION ON AUTOMATIC RENEWALS OF LEASES.

Notwithstanding the provisions of any residential lease, in order to enforce any automatic renewal clause of a lease of an original term of two months or more which states, in effect, that the term shall be deemed renewed for a specified additional period of time of two months or more unless the tenant gives notice to the landlord of an intention to quit the premises at the expiration of the term due to expire, the landlord must give notice to the tenant as provided in this section. The notice must be in writing and direct the tenant's attention to the automatic renewal provision of the lease. The notice must be served personally or mailed by certified mail at least 15 days, but not more than 30 days prior to the time that the tenant is required to furnish notice of an intention to quit.

I didn't understand the lease completely, now I'm even more confused by the Minnesota Statute

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    Good work tracking down the applicable statute. – ohwilleke Aug 3 '17 at 1:37
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From the time that the lease expired and you remained with permission, you had a shorter period of obligation and protection. I assume that the lease ended long ago, and you've been living there month to month.

Assuming that we can read "two rental periods" as "two whole months" (if there is something else in the lease that indicates this, such as a rent due-date), then we can interpret the notice requirement as saying that you must give notice before the first of the month 2 months before the intended end of tenancy – that is one meaning of the lease. Another meaning is that you can give notice 58 days in advance. The lease has an ambiguity as to what the notice requirement is. Since you did not write the lease, and they did (well, someone, whose obligations they inherited, did), the ambiguity is construed against the party to wrote it. In the present circumstance, because you want to leave soon, you would not be held to the notice requirement that favors the landlord. It's entirely non-obvious why such wording would be used.

In 504B.135, the statutes say

(a) A tenancy at will may be terminated by either party by giving notice in writing. The time of the notice must be at least as long as the interval between the time rent is due or three months, whichever is less.

(b) If a tenant neglects or refuses to pay rent due on a tenancy at will, the landlord may terminate the tenancy by giving the tenant 14 days notice to quit in writing.

Once you're past the end of the lease, you are a tenant at will, by the definitions section:

"Tenancy at will" means a tenancy in which the tenant holds possession by permission of the landlord but without a fixed ending date.

Assuming that you pay rent at the first of the month, then the lesser of a whole calendar month and three months is, obviously, a whole calendar month.

The stuff at the end of the statute that you cite – "The notice must be in writing and direct the tenant's attention" – is addressed to the landlord's notice to tenant, where he says "Your tenancy will not auto-renew". This applies to leases of 2 months or longer, not recycled 1 month leases, and requires the landlord to give the tenant appropriate notice (it does not define the tenant's notice requirement).

  • 58 days = the shortest two month period. – Joshua Feb 7 at 18:25
  • @Joshua The shortest two month period is 28+31=59 days. – pipe Apr 9 at 9:11

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