Brief Fact Summary. Tenants of property remained after expiration of lease despite the landlord telling them to vacate. Once the landlord accepted a rent payment, tenants treated lease as a month-to-month lease, which landlord argued was actually a renewal of the full five-year term. Landlord sued to enforce a new five-year lease.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Once the landlord accepts rent from a tenant at the end of the lease, he effectively agrees to a month-to-month extension of the lease.
Issue. Whether the Defendants are holdover tenants and bound to a new five-year lease or were effectively trespassers.
Held. Affirmed, the Defendants are not required to pay rent for a new term of the rent for the following reasons:
When a tenant continues in possession after the termination of his lease, the landlord can elect to evict the tenant, treat him as a trespasser or hold him as a tenant.
In this case, the Plaintiff sent a letter to the Defendants, which effectively treated them as trespassers. The Plaintiff cannot at a later date change his treatment of the Defendants to the status of a tenant.
When a landlord elects to treat a tenant as a trespasser, but accepts rent, he in effect agrees to an extension of the lease on a month-to-month basis.
It is firmly established that where, without a new contract, a tenant continues to occupy the property which he has held under an annual lease, he becomes liable as tenant for another year at the same rate and under the same terms.View Full Point of Law