Ask a Real Estate Professional: How Can I Stay in My Unit and Pay the Same Rent When My Lease Is Expired?

Q: I have lived in the same large rental community for the past ten years. The complex was sold to a new company that was refurbishing units that current tenants had moved out of and then sublet at a higher price. I recently learned that they won’t renew people’s leases. Instead, they offer tenants to move into one of the renovated units at a higher rent. What can I do to stay in my unit at the current price when I offer to renew? — Neil

A: The first step in determining your rights as a tenant is to carefully review your tenancy agreement.

A lease binds the landlord and tenant to what was agreed upon and cannot be changed unilaterally. If the landlord sells the rented property, the new landlord must abide by the same terms as before.

If your lease allows you to renew, the agreed renewal terms will apply.

However, most residential leases are not actually renewable. Instead, they expire after a year, and the landlord and tenant sign a new, similar lease. It sounds like this is your case.

When your current lease expires, you must negotiate a new lease.

Even under normal circumstances, it is best to start the process several months in advance so that you can make alternative living arrangements if necessary.

In many places, landlords must give advance notice, usually two to three months, if the rent is going to increase slightly or if the landlord does not intend to offer the tenant another lease.

Because this varies by county and sometimes city by city, you’ll need to see which ones apply where you live. You should be able to find this information by calling your city and county or searching the internet.

Now that you know this could be a problem, contact your landlord to discuss your options.

Given your long tenure, your new landlord may be willing to work with you to come up with a solution that you both can live with.

If not, you’ll have the most time looking for a new place to live.

Board-certified real estate attorney Gary Singer writes about industry legal matters and the real estate market.To ask him a question, please email him gary@garysingerlaw.comor go SunSentinel.com/askpro.