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Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

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  • Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in Ventura county, California.

    After signing a one-year lease in February 2012, the owner told us that the guest bathroom had flooded on the previous tenants below. He said that if we were willing to stay an extra year (increasing the length of the lease to two years) that he would be willing to fix/remodel the guest bathroom.

    Later in August, the owner asked if we’d ever thought about owning the property and stated “In case you are wondering, I would not sell the unit until after you decide to move out in any case.” We expressed our interest in renting over buying, and asked for our lease to be extended for another year.

    In August 2012 we came to an agreement with the owner via email to extend our lease to February 2014.

    He wrote: “Please go ahead and ask [the property manager] if you may extend the lease expiration out 1 year from the current expiration. When she asks me, I will say OK.”

    We verified the extension agreement with the property manager via email at which time she verified that we wanted the lease extended from the date it was set to expire versus from the point of that email in August. Following that, she replied with “Okie Dokie.”

    Soon after, the guest toilet flooded, causing substantial damage to the downstairs neighbor’s property, two months later we were asked to pay 50% of the damages (September 2012). We declined as the insurance company agreed we weren't at fault and that the issue was due the toilet itself. We then instead asked the owner and property manager that we be compensated for paying two months full rent without use of all of apartments facilities, which was later declined (November 2012) .

    Now, with one month left in our lease, we inquired about our lease extension to find out that the owner is exploring other options, possible selling the unit and our lease will not be renewed ??" but we can stay month-to-month as long as we agree to show the place.

    We feel that this was a breach of lease based on retaliation for not contributing toward the damages caused by the faulty toilet.

    Are we on the right path? Could anyone offer any advice/resources? I’m stilling trying to establish if we have any legal footing in this.

    Thanks in advance,

    Worthington

  • #2
    Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

    Originally posted by Worthington View Post
    My question involves landlord-tenant law in Ventura county, California.

    After signing a one-year lease in February 2012, the owner told us that the guest bathroom had flooded on the previous tenants below. He said that if we were willing to stay an extra year (increasing the length of the lease to two years) that he would be willing to fix/remodel the guest bathroom.

    Later in August, the owner asked if we’d ever thought about owning the property and stated “In case you are wondering, I would not sell the unit until after you decide to move out in any case.” We expressed our interest in renting over buying, and asked for our lease to be extended for another year.

    In August 2012 we came to an agreement with the owner via email to extend our lease to February 2014.

    He wrote: “Please go ahead and ask [the property manager] if you may extend the lease expiration out 1 year from the current expiration. When she asks me, I will say OK.”

    We verified the extension agreement with the property manager via email at which time she verified that we wanted the lease extended from the date it was set to expire versus from the point of that email in August. Following that, she replied with “Okie Dokie.”

    Soon after, the guest toilet flooded, causing substantial damage to the downstairs neighbor’s property, two months later we were asked to pay 50% of the damages (September 2012). We declined as the insurance company agreed we weren't at fault and that the issue was due the toilet itself. We then instead asked the owner and property manager that we be compensated for paying two months full rent without use of all of apartments facilities, which was later declined (November 2012) .

    Now, with one month left in our lease, we inquired about our lease extension to find out that the owner is exploring other options, possible selling the unit and our lease will not be renewed ??" but we can stay month-to-month as long as we agree to show the place.

    We feel that this was a breach of lease based on retaliation for not contributing toward the damages caused by the faulty toilet.

    Are we on the right path? Could anyone offer any advice/resources? I’m stilling trying to establish if we have any legal footing in this.

    Thanks in advance,

    Worthington
    While it may appear that the lease is being non-renewed due to your refusal to pay for the repairs to the toilet, that alone is not conclusive behavior to indicate retaliation. The truth is that if there was an issue with that toilet that led to substantial damages, there may well be other issues with the property that the LL just doesn't want to fix and would instead prefer to sell the property.

    Combine the above with the fact that you have no signed agreement with the LL or their property manager for a lease extension. While the email shows the intent, the LL did specify that the property manager had the final say, so nothing was definite. Once that whole process was finalized, they needed to give you a WRITTEN document that supported the extension. Without that, a verbal offer and even an email with intent isn't enough to show that the extension was a done deal. Such an extension needed to be IN WRITING in order to be legally effective.

    You are certainly welcome to consult with a real estate attorney, but I fear that your money would be better spent on finding a new place if you aren't happy with a month-to-month tenancy for the indefinite future.
    "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
    "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
    "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

      Contact your local housing authorities or an attorney about your rights as a tenant if you believe your landlord is taking retaliatory measures against you for such actions as deducting repair costs from your rent or issuing complaints to local housing authorities. Consider consulting an attorney about your landlord's retaliatory measures. Consider legal action if other means to reach an agreement with your landlord is not successful.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

        Originally posted by Worthington View Post
        My question involves landlord-tenant law in Ventura county, California.

        After signing a one-year lease in February 2012, the owner told us that the guest bathroom had flooded on the previous tenants below. He said that if we were willing to stay an extra year (increasing the length of the lease to two years) that he would be willing to fix/remodel the guest bathroom.

        Later in August, the owner asked if we’d ever thought about owning the property and stated “In case you are wondering, I would not sell the unit until after you decide to move out in any case.” We expressed our interest in renting over buying, and asked for our lease to be extended for another year.

        In August 2012 we came to an agreement with the owner via email to extend our lease to February 2014.

        He wrote: “Please go ahead and ask [the property manager] if you may extend the lease expiration out 1 year from the current expiration. When she asks me, I will say OK.”

        We verified the extension agreement with the property manager via email at which time she verified that we wanted the lease extended from the date it was set to expire versus from the point of that email in August. Following that, she replied with “Okie Dokie.”

        Soon after, the guest toilet flooded, causing substantial damage to the downstairs neighbor’s property, two months later we were asked to pay 50% of the damages (September 2012). We declined as the insurance company agreed we weren't at fault and that the issue was due the toilet itself. We then instead asked the owner and property manager that we be compensated for paying two months full rent without use of all of apartments facilities, which was later declined (November 2012) .

        Now, with one month left in our lease, we inquired about our lease extension to find out that the owner is exploring other options, possible selling the unit and our lease will not be renewed ??" but we can stay month-to-month as long as we agree to show the place.

        We feel that this was a breach of lease based on retaliation for not contributing toward the damages caused by the faulty toilet.

        Are we on the right path? Could anyone offer any advice/resources? I’m stilling trying to establish if we have any legal footing in this.

        Thanks in advance,

        Worthington
        An agreement to extend a lease, oral or in writing, is not the same as executing the actual lease. Until that lease is signed by all parties, one does not have a lease.

        Your 'footing' is tenuous, at best.

        From the beginning, the landlord indicated he was interested in selling the place. So you had notice. That time has come and he does not want to encumber the place with a lease which might diminish his prospects of selling it.

        While you well may be entitled to a rent reduction for the time you did not have use of all the facilities, that is something you two have to agree upon or have a judge make the calculation for you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

          I was under the impression that our lease would be covered under the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act and/or Civil Code Section - 1633.1-1633.17‏. ALL of my communication with the Owner and Property Manager were via email as they refused to give me any other way to contact them. I have a maintenance line, but it goes to a call center and I have proof that the calls don't always make it to the Property Manager or Owner. Given that email was the only form of communication, it seems reasonable to be able to hold them to promises made via that method. Additionally, the Owner did say he thinking of selling to me, but would not sell until I had decided to move out. Even now, the Property Manager only says that he's refusing to renew the lease while he "explores other options". It appears to be retaliatory in that less than a month after I refused to pay for half the damages, a firm lease agreement (to the point where the Property Manager verified with me what date to put on the new lease) has suddenly become "exploring other options".

          In light of that, would our lease extension agreements made via email be protected?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

            Originally posted by Worthington View Post
            In light of that, would our lease extension agreements made via email be protected?
            Doubtful without a signature.

            Anyone with a knowledge of a password can access other people or family members' email accounts.

            A family member could respond without having any legal right to do so or without having any legal right to made a decision or give permission.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

              I would say that made sense, but I have emails from both the Owner AND the Property Manager and that was my ONLY form of communication with them. Additionally, I have emails from the Property Manager saying that she and the Owner had been discussing the issue and she had copies of all of the emails from the Owner.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Do we have a lease extension, and is this a breach of lease based on retaliation?

                Originally posted by Worthington View Post
                I would say that made sense, but I have emails from both the Owner AND the Property Manager and that was my ONLY form of communication with them. Additionally, I have emails from the Property Manager saying that she and the Owner had been discussing the issue and she had copies of all of the emails from the Owner.
                IT DOESN'T MATTER. The owner SPECIFICALLY stated that the manager had to approve, and that lease extension is invalid unless it was reduced to writing with SIGNATURES, just like the on the original lease you signed (which wasn't submitted via email, either).

                No one is telling you not to try. We are, however, telling you that such an extension was never guaranteed unless you reduced it to writing (and most courts will tell you that this means physical writing, and that emails are not considered legally binding for this purpose).
                "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
                "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
                "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."

                Comment

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