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90 day notice lost by office!

Posted by Meg on January 23, 2001 at 13:12:49:

Somebody please help me! Here is my situation:

On November 1 I dropped an envelope containing my rent check and 90 days notice into my rental office mail drop. Note: my complex only requires 60 days, but I wanted to get it out of the way early. The check was cashed and I assumed the notice had been received. I then began my search for a new apartment, finding one in mid-November. My current apartment (I'll refer to as SS) received a form from the new place (WL) on November 28 requesting confirmation that I was a tenant there, and that I was intending to rent at WL.

Please note that both of these complexes are located in Richmond, Virginia, and are not rent stabilized or controlled. I signed a standard 1 year lease with SS, and then with WL.

Although my lease at SS ends on Jan 31, 2001, I entered into a new lease on Jan 14, moving in that weekend. I have paid for this month, and have never been more than 1 day late in paying my rent (that was when the 1st of the month was a Sunday).

On January 18 I received a phone message at work from SS asking what lease renewal term I was interested in. I promptly returned their call stating that I had given them 90 days notice in November, and that I did not intend to renew the lease. They stated that they do not have a copy in my file, and therefore I never gave them notice.

I asked why they didn't contact me sooner (2 weeks before the lease ended is just not right), and they said that they normally call 60 and 30 days before the lease ends, implying that I ignored those calls. I replied that the message on the 18th was the first I had received, that I replied immediately, and asked what my motivation would be in ignoring their policy. I also asked why they didn't contact me after receiving notice from the new complex. They stated that was not their responsiblity.

Now, I have read the Landlord Tenant Act, and in 55-248.6 (Notice), which states that notice "is effective for a particular transaction from the time it is brought to the attention of the person conducting that transaction, or from the time it would have been brought to his attention is the organization had exercised reasonable diligence". They received notice with my rent check. They cashed the check. Obviously they overlooked the notice, which they would not have if they had excercised reasonable diligence.

I have talked to the manager of the complex office, and the property manager of the company that ownes the complex. They insist on holding me to 60 days unless they can rent the apartment sooner. Right now that means that I will have to pay over $1,500 if they can't off-load the apartment.

As part of of my "defense", becauase I plan to take this to court if they won't settle with me, I have kept a log of every time I have made contact with them, and every time they have contacted me. I also plan to turn in my keys early, although I am paid through the month, so that they can have additional time to prepare the apartment for rent.
My question is, what else can I do here? Should I be held responsible for their oversight? I believe that I made a good faith effort to ensure that they had more than adequate notice, and now I'm being screwed. Please help me.


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