A lease expires automatically at the end of the lease term. 271 The tenant is expected either to renew the lease before it expires (with the landlord’s agreement) or to move out. A lease usually doesn’t require a tenant to give the landlord any advance written notice when the lease is about to expire. However, the tenant should read the lease to see if it has any provisions covering what happens at the end of the lease.
Before you move, you may want to give the landlord a courtesy notice stating that you do not want to renew your lease.
If you continue living in the rental after the lease expires, and if the landlord accepts rent from you, your tenancy will be a periodic tenancy from that point on. The length of time between your rent payments will determine the type of the tenancy (for example, monthly rent results in a month-to-month tenancy). Except for the length of the agreement, all other provisions of the lease will remain in effect.272 Sometimes, a landlord will give a tenant a 30-day notice before the lease ends to be certain that the tenancy does not continue after the lease expires.273
If you don’t move in time, and if the landlord refuses to accept rent after the lease expires, the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit immediately without giving you any notice. (This may not be true if you live in a rent control jurisdiction.)274
Important: If you want to renew your lease, you should begin negotiating with your landlord in plenty of time before the lease expires. Both your landlord and you will have to agree to the terms of the new lease. This process may take some time if one of you wants to negotiate different terms in the new lease.
271 California Practice Guide, Landlord-Tenant, Paragraph 2:395 (Rutter Group 2009).
272 Civil Code Section 1945, Portman and Brown, California Tenants’ Rights, page 226 (NOLO Press 2007).
273 Brown, Warner and Portman, The California Landlord’s Law Book, Vol. I: Rights & Responsibilities, page 359 (NOLO Press 2009).
274 Portman and Brown, California Tenants’ Rights, page 252 (NOLO Press 2007).