Lease Renewal

A lease expires upon end of term. This applies in a Seattle residential lease, the local just cause eviction ordinance notwithstanding. Carlstrom v. Hanline, 98 Wn. App. 780 (2000).

Renewal clauses should specify rent, renewal term, any new or changed terms, and the time and manner of notice of intent to renew.

– Lack of definite term may render renewal void. Linton Coal Co v. S. Cent. Res., Inc. 590 So.2d 911 (Ala. 1991).

– Tenant’s option to renew at “reasonable rate” held to require rent based on value of land, but not tenant’s improvements. Murray v. Odman, 1 Wn.2d 481, 96 P.2d 489 (1939).

– Notice given by means other than that required by the lease effective if there is actual and timely receipt. Gen. Tel. Co. of Nw., Inc. v. C-3 Assocs., 32 Wn,App. 550, 648 P.2d 491 (1982).

– Tenant’s notice must express definite and unqualified intent to renew. Jones v. Dexter, 48 Wn.2d 224, 292 P.2d 389 (1956).

Courts have construed a renewal clause to one renewal, even if language indicates otherwise. Oak Bay Props., Ltd. v. Silverdale Sportsmen’s Ctr., Inc., 32 Wash. App. 516, 648 P.2d 465 (1982)(one renewal despite provisions for “right to renew annually”; court noted limitation on use and covenant to surrender in good condition.

Under the rule in the majority of jurisdictions rule a tenant in default may not renew the lease. Washington follows the minority rule. Hindquarter Corp. v. Prop. Dev. Corp., 95 Wn.2d 809, 631 P.2d 923 (1981). The parties should specify in lease whether the tenant may renew if in default.

One Washington decision held that acceptance of rent did not waive a lease provision conditioning renewal on not breaching lease. Lenci v. Owner, 30 Wn.App. 800, 638 P.2d 598 (1982).