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This is in the state of Washington.

The lease states that

  • after the expiration, the lease will automatically renew for successive terms of one month each
  • the resident agrees to execute all revised rental agreements upon request

Prior to the lease expiring (but more than 20 days in advance), the landlords requests that the tenant sign a month-to-month lease with a substantially different wording.

What happens if the resident refuses and insists that the old wording allows them to stay on the old lease, but for month-to-month terms instead of the new terms.

Assuming that there is no change in the amount of the rent (so no advanced notice of change of rent is necessary), which of the two provisions wins out? Does the tenant break the lease by not executing the new (substantially differently worded) lease or does the lease renew unless the landlord gives a notice to terminate?

BTW, I am not asking for a legal advise. I am asking if there is any state law that limits how extensive a lease revision may be.

Edit: to further narrow down the question, there is currently a moratorium on landlord-initiated termination of leases, or serving of notices of unlawful detainer, issued by the governor of the state under the emergency powers. The landlord recognizes this, and stipulates this, when making their request.

  • I am confused. By signing the lease, the resident agreed, "to execute all revised rental agreements upon request." Given this agreement, how can the resident now insist "that the old wording allows him to stay on the old lease..."? – Just a guy Jul 30 at 19:48
  • @Justaguy can you be more specific? What do you find confusing? Do you know, for example, what it means to "execute" an agreement? – grovkin Jul 30 at 19:51
  • I was confused by this question: "which of the two provisions wins out?" This suggests the two provisions are somehow in conflict. But that's not what you mean. What you really mean is "does the second provision apply" when the landlord makes such extensive changes that she is not revising the existing agreement but instead substituting a new agreement. The real question is, as you say in the title (and last sentence) "how extensive can revisions be," before they aren't really revising but rewriting? – Just a guy Jul 30 at 20:33
  • This issue is linked to the first provision because, under the terms of the contract, if the landlord is not revising but rewriting/substituting then the first provision gives the tenant the right to continue at the old terms, *since the landlord has not offered a truly revised rental agreement. – Just a guy Jul 30 at 20:37
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The old terms apply ...

... until the landlord gives notice and ends the lease - then the tenant has to get out.

This is not inconsistent with the requirement to “execute all revised rental agreements upon request” - unless and until new terms have been agreed, there are no “revised rental agreements”, once there are, the tenant can be requested to (and must) execute them. There seems to be a misapprehension that this term gives the landlord a unilateral right to change the terms - it doesn’t. However, if the landlord wanted to formalize the month-to-month arrangement that is created under the old lease with new documents (or any other mutually agreed arrangement), then the tenant is obliged to sign it.

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  • @dale Thanks! That's very helpful. – Just a guy Jul 30 at 22:08
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after the expiration ... Prior to the lease expiring

Those are the key words. Once lease has expired the parties are all even. Noone owes anything to anyone (assuming all rent has been paid and there are no claims). Tenant can either sign a new lease on whatever terms can be agreed, or go.

The wording "the resident agrees to execute all revised rental agreements upon request" will not have literal legal effect (one cannot contract to enter another, yet unknown contract). However, what it clearly conveys is that the landlord will not enter negotiations on signing new leases: either you accept what they offer, or go.

What happens if the resident refuses and insists that the old wording allows him to stay on the old lease, but for month-to-month terms instead of the new terms.

Landlord obtains a court order for eviction and throws the tenant out.

Does the tenant break the lease by not executing a new (substantially differently worded) lease or does the lease renew unless the landlord gives a notice to terminate?

Tennant cannot break an expired lease. Lease does not renew unless parties agree and sign.

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  • I am not sure I understand your reasoning. The 1st provision says that the lease will automatically renew for successive terms of 1 month each after the expiration of the original lease term. Why would you think that the expiring of the lease would result in its termination? Auto-renew provisions are fairly common in contracts. – grovkin Jul 30 at 15:03
  • @grovkin Because the landlord requested you to sign a new lease. This is tantamount to notice of termination of the expiring one at its expiry date i.e. the automatic renewal is effectively cancelled. – Greendrake Jul 30 at 15:09
  • landlords cannot terminate leases at the moment in WA. It's a state-wide order issued by the governor under the emergency powers. – grovkin Jul 30 at 15:15
  • @grovkin More correctly to say that is notice of refusal to renew (which cancels the default renewal), not termination. Guess that state-wide order does not extend fixed-term leases indefinitely does it? – Greendrake Jul 30 at 15:26
  • notices of unlawful detainer are temporarily prohibited, but it may not matter because, as you say, there is no substantive difference between notice not to renew, if the auto-renew provision is present, and a notice to terminate. – grovkin Jul 30 at 16:08

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