SW Legal studies in Business

Failure to Give Notice of Intent to Vacate Rented Office Left Lease in Place for Full Term
Description Rhode Island high court affirmed judgment for landlord for the full rental value of property for a five-year lease. Tenants vacated at the end of the first term of the lease, but failed to inform the landlord of their intent to vacate, so the automatic five-year renew clause was effected and tenants were responsible for the rent less rent paid by new tenants.
Topic Real and Personal Property
Key Words Landlord and Tenant; Lease; Automatic Renewal
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Landry and his law partners (defendants) rented a law office suite from Saunders for 56 months. After that time, the lease was automatically renewable for additional five-year periods. If either party chose not to extend the lease, they were required to give six-months written notice before its expiration. At the end of the 56 months, the defendants vacated the offices without having given a written notice of their decision not to renew the lease. Saunders told the defendants that the lease had been automatically renewed for five years and that they owed rent. Realizing that defendants would not pay the rent, Saunders found another tenant at a lower rent, but the offices were empty for ten months before the new tenants moved in. Saunders sued defendants for breach. The trial court ordered defendants to pay ten months rent plus the difference in their rent and the new tenant's rent over the five-year lease period, for a total of $178,309. Defendants appealed, contending that the automatic renewal was unenforceable because it did not specify the exact rental amount to be paid during the term.
Decision Affirmed. The parties had agreed to a minimum rent that would apply during all rental periods. Any other rent would have to be mutually agreed upon. Since no other rent was agreed upon, the minimum rent that had been set at the beginning of the lease applies to the five-year period. The lease did not fail because the defendants abandoned the building; the landlord never evicted them and since they did not give proper notice of termination, the lease was renewed for five years.
Citation Saunders Real Estate Corporation v. Landry, 769 A.2d 1277 (Sup. Ct., R.I., 2001)

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