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Answer: You have a tricky situation, because although I think that you have a valid argument that the agreement should be considered month to month, one can never be sure of what a judge will decide. But if it was written just as you stated, above, AND there are no other notations anywhere else in the document that would indicate it was supposed to be through, say, Sep 30, 2011, you have a good shot...not guaranteed, but a good shot.
The handwritten note (if you signed it AFTER that note was written in, not before) is usually interpreted to mean that you have to give notice 60 days before the end date of the lease, or it will automatically renew.
Search through the printed part of the lease and see whether it renews on a month to month or annual basis. Usually after the term of a lease is completed, it rolls into a month to month. If so, normally only 30 days notice is required to terminate; it sounds as though the landlord wanted to make this 60 days, instead.
Everything else aside, if you break the lease, the landlord must try to find a new tenant and re-lease or re-rent the unit. He or she can't just sit on his/her hands.
You may want to bookmark this link to the Landlord Tenant law: https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=504b
This may also be helful to you, now or in the future: http://www.ag.state.mn.us/Brochures/pubLandlordTenants.pdf
If you can negotiate a resolution with the landlord, that's always the best. See what he wants, and what you can offer.
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One follow up question. There is another clause (para 9) labeled "Notice of Intent to Surrender" which requires "at least 30 days notice prior to the normal expiration of the lease" and goes on to provide that failing such notice "Tenant shall become a month to month tenant as defined ... by Minnesota law." In that event, Tenant must give 30 days notice to the intention to surrender.
Does that clause affect your answers to the previous question?
No, it confirms it. If the landlord handwrote in 60 days, and you agreed to that with your signature, you agreed to 60 days notice.
However, I have an argument you could make, if it came to that. If the landlord handwrote in 60 days, and didn't cross off the paragraph with the 30 days (and have you initial) you could argue that the contract includes conflicting and confusing terms. When contracts have ambiguities, and are prepared by the party in power (in this case, the landlord), 99% of courts will interpret the contract in the favor of the party to the contract not in power (in this case, the tenant).
Any time a business, employer, landlord, or anyone else in power prepares the contract, and the other party has no ability to negotiate the terms, these are called "contracts of adhesion" (you can research that term, contract of adhesion, on Google or Wikipedia if you want to get into it in more depth, yet read an explanation written for a lay person). So, if both, conflicting terms exist, you can at least make a viable argument, should this ever go to court.
BTW, you didn't say why you wanted to move. If you read through the law, you may find something that applies, such as needed repairs.
One final thought - another valid reason to leave would be if the apartment was not as promised. You could argue that the landlord breached the contract by not providing you what you agreed to.
I am not telling you what to do - these are all things to consider; various options.
As you know, I cannot give you legal advice here. I can't tell you what to do or not do, but I can tell you options.
You are being extremely helpful. One of the main reasons for moving is that landlord's failure to complete repairs that affect our room in particular -- leaks from an upper floor, mold in the bathroom and carpentry work to reinstate a staircase railing and closet. The landlord promised the repairs would start Oct 1, did start them several weeks later and then fired the builder. There is an outstanding City of St Paul notice to repair with a due date of Dec. 8th but this coexists with a letter from the landlord to us giving the Oct 1 date. The failure to make repairs also undermines our ability to find replacement tenants, although we have/are trying to do so.
My guess is that none of these arguments is conclusive but taken together might justify giving 30 days notice. But if we do that, won't the landlord likely hold onto our security deposit?
I don't know what the landlord will do of course, but if he holds onto your security deposit, you can go to Small Claims Court and ask for that, the cost of filing, the cost of service of process and interest.
Be sure to do a walk through, get witnesses, and take pictures and notes when you DO move.
If you look at the portion of the law on repairs, follow it to the letter. That part of the law, and the fact that the City is involved, helps you out tremendously. I could take another look, if you'd like, but usually in Landlord/Tenant laws, if serious repairs are needed there are several options, and there's usually an option to move out - perhaps with LESS than 30 days.
If the City gets involved and redtags your unit, you won't even be allowed to stay there. You'll HAVE to move out, and the lease becomes pretty much meaningless. There should be a section of the law on that, too.
You're lucky to live in a state that has a landlord/tenant law that it does. Some states have almost no real protection for tenants.
It's 6:05 pm where I am visiting relatives, so I think I'm going to stop working for the night.
I'll check back tomorrow for any follow-up questions, but I'd appreciate it if you would "accept" in the meantime if you are satisfied with my answer to your question.
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