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.
Discussion. The court discussed whether the actions of the landlord created a month-to month lease, an eviction proceeding, or made the tenants hold over tenants. The court focused on the fact that the landlord accepted a rent payment from the tenants. Despite a written communication to the contrary, this created a month-to-month lease.