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Me and my girlfriend moved into our apartment on August 14th (the start of the 2017-18 term), just 37 days ago. The apartment complex is owned by a fairly large local company, owning many properties around town. Today we (and every other 2017-18 tenant) received an email stating that we need to respond that we are intending to stay, with a form including our signature, by October 2 (49 days into the term) otherwise our apartment will be "marketed and available to prospective tenants". Then they state they can only hold the apartment until the October 27th (74 days into the lease and 37 days since this email notice) because of high demand, and that that if they do not have a renewal lease signed point they will mark the apartment as available and we may "lose your house/apartment for next term".

I dug through the lease and there is no mention of when any party must give intention to renew, however they do state that any notice to end a current term by either party or change any details about the current term must be given 60 days prior to the end of the term (July 31, 2018).

This time to renew is way to early, we still have maintenance issues that haven't been addressed which we'd like to know the outcome of before signing up for another year, plus things could change. I'm wondering, short of any relevant information being in the lease, is there any recourse to being prompted to sign for renewal early in a term. Surely it would be an obvious issue if they forced you to renew 1 day into your lease, 49-74 days in doesn't feel much different. Is there options, short of emailing them and begging, to extend that term?

This is in Virginia, USA to be specific.

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    This thing you'd be signing - is it a lease, or does it have the effect of extending or renewing the lease for the current term? Does it obligate you to pay rent for the next lease term? If not, and you plan on staying if things work out, then sign. "Intend" contemplates that it might work out differently. – Patrick87 Sep 21 '17 at 2:35
  • @Patrick87 The Oct 2 one is not a lease, although it has a checkbox for "Yes we want to renew" or "No we are moving out" followed by signature, phone #, email. So I'm sure if there's anything legally binding there. However, the Oct 27 date says they must have the renewal lease signed or it will be marked 'available' and we may lose it for next year. – DasBeasto Sep 21 '17 at 12:21
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There is no obvious reason that it would be illegal, although it certainly wouldn't be customary practice. Unless a lease says otherwise, it does not include a legal option to renew the lease.

The landlord has every right to lease the property for the period after the end of your lease term without asking you first and then to give you timely notice to terminate before your lease term ends.

But, Patrick87 rightly notes that it isn't clear if the form in question is legally binding lease extension, or simply constitutes an expression of present intent that you retain the right to change your mind about. Indeed, I would bet that the landlord hasn't consulted a lawyer about this and doesn't really know himself (or itself). It isn't clear that without a proper lease extension that the agreement to renew could be enforced.

Contrawise, it also isn't clear if you signing an intent to renew form gives you a legally enforceable option to renew your lease, or if the landlord could ignore your wishes and lease it to someone else anyway if they got a better offer.

On the whole, the ambiguity over the enforceability of this request, on both sides, is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

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