Does an informal email to my landlord stating ‘I intend to renew’ legally constitute as an official renewal of my commercial lease?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Does an informal email to my landlord stating ‘I intend to renew’ legally constitute as an official renewal of my commercial lease?

I had a commercial lease, my father was the guarantor, and it ended 6/30/16. On 2/19/16, the landlord emailed me informally asking if I intended to renew, per our lease I was required to scan and send a notice he attached in the email. I replied ‘I do intend to renew’ and would send him the notice as soon as I could. After review of the store’s performance and rising costs, I was unsure of the store’s future and never sent him the renewal notice, it was never brought up again, I continued paying rent in full and on-time. On 3/7/17 I sent a 30 day notice of closing my shop and vacating the space. Landlord is claiming my informal email renewed my lease and the same email also renewed my father as a guarantor, with or without the scanned document official notice, therefore we owe him a very large sum in damages for vacating before the lease ended. My argument is that the lease was never renewed and per the terms of the lease I was on a month-to-month contract, able to vacate with notice

Asked on April 3, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Generally, a lease needs to be formally renewed, either by re-signing a new lease, signing a lease renewal, or at least sending a formal renewal notice as set out in the lease (i.e. if the lease states that you renew by sending a letter to a physical address, that's how you renew, and anything else would not constitute renewal). Most likely, the email you describe, which just stated your likely intent, would not constitue a renewal, but that answer would change depending on the terms of the lease, since as with any contract (a lease is a contract), its specific terms control--it could allow renewal under these circumstances. Much depends on what exactly, if anything, your lease says about renewal. If they are seeking a "very large sum," it would be worthwhile to bring a copy of your lease and the email correspondence to a landlord-tenant attorney who can review with you and determine your rights given your specific lease and communications.

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