Landlord Evicts Tenant Following Expiration of Term, Despite Renewal Communications

Ohio’s Eighth District Court of Appeals recently decided a landlord-tenant case addressing the requirements for parties to reach an enforceable contract when discussing a lease renewal.  In Realty Trust Servs., L.L.C. v. Mohammad, 2020-Ohio-3736, the Plaintiff sought eviction of the tenant from property following the expiration of the lease term after the parties attempted but failed to reach a definitive agreement on renewal.  The parties then exchanged emails about renewal, but the parties never finalized definitive renewal terms.

Once the term expired, the landlord served a statutory three-day notice, and the tenant tendered rent payments, which the landlord refused.  The landlord then filed an eviction action.

On appeal, the Eighth District Court of Appeals ruled that the landlord never extended an offer of definitive terms to the tenant, that the parties’ email exchange was a mere “invitation to negotiate,” and that the parties never reached a “meeting of the minds” on terms of renewal.  The Court of Appeals noted that there was no holdover tenancy because the landlord refused to accept rent following the expiration of the term.

This case serves as a useful reminder to landlords to be as clear as you possibly can in communications about renewals, and don’t accept rent following the expiration of a term if you want to immediately regain possession of the property.