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A Landlord’s Guide to Non-Renewal

Packed Moving Boxes in San Rafael RentalA key to keeping rental vacancies low is to find (and keep) good tenants. However, things might not always work out between you and your tenant. Your circumstances might have changed, or you really need to do major repairs. In such cases, one of the best ways to end your current lease is through non-renewal. Here, we will discuss the non-renewal process and some key points to know in order to handle it properly.

Non-Renewal Vs Eviction

First of all, you must know that non-renewal is not the same as an eviction. Eviction is the legal process through which a landlord may remove a tenant from a rental property. This process usually begins when the tenant is in violation of one or more of the terms of their lease and typically requires legal filings, court hearings, and a legal order that is perfected with law enforcement removing the renter from the property.

Non-renewal, on the other hand, is when you are not forcing the tenant out. Instead, it is choosing not to renew the lease at the end of the current lease term. This, however, does not mean that a landlord can just wait until the end of the lease term and then ask the tenant to leave. Similar to eviction, there are certain steps to be followed to ensure a successful renewal process that follows the laws and regulations in your state.

There are different governing laws for rental properties and leases in every state, so it is vital that you know them as well as the steps you have to take to ensure your non-renewal is done according to the letter of the law.

The Non-Renewal Process

A notice advising the tenant that their lease is not being renewed usually kicks off the non-renewal process. The intent of this notice is to let your tenant know that there will be no renewal at the end of their current term.

How far advance the lease end this notice should be sent differs between states since each has different requirements and timeline of non-renewal notices. There are regions that require it to be sent 90 days in advance. Others require only 30 days. While you probably don’t need to give a reason for the non-renewal, the notice must typically be delivered in writing, and in some states, must be sent through certified mail or another signature-based service. You have to be certain about what the law in your state requires so you could follow the applicable regulations.

It is extremely important that you do not use non-renewal for situations that require an eviction, change of lease terms, or raising the rent. In most places, it is illegal to use a non-renewal notice to manipulate or force out a tenant. It could backfire into a costly lawsuit, especially when the tenant feels they were not given adequate notice or that their lease is being terminated in violation of local law. These legal headaches can be avoided by following the local statute to the letter.

It is to your advantage to establish good communication with your tenant and to continue doing so throughout the non-renewal process. Even if your tenant feels upset with the thought of you not renewing their lease, it is important to maintain professionalism at all times. By showing you care about your tenant, even when you need to end things, you can avoid potential retaliatory damage or any unwanted behaviors and, part with your tenant on good terms.


If you want a smoother non-renewal situation, it is best to hire an expert to do it for you. At Real Property Management SonoMarin, our San Rafael property managers can help you navigate through the changes in your lease, ownership status, or repairs. Learn more by contacting us online or calling at 650-969-4800 today.

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