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‘Mail Delivery Rule’ Presumes Landlord Received Notice

Question: We leased a small office building in Show Low for five years, with an option to renew for five years. This option to renew for five years required at least 60 days’ notice to the landlord prior to the end of the lease. The landlord lives in Phoenix, so we mailed to the landlord our notice to renew the lease for five years. This mailing, both by first class and certified mail, was almost 90 days prior to the expiration of the lease. The certified mail came back a few days later marked “unclaimed,” but the first class mail never came back. The landlord is now saying that he never received either mailing, and that we have to move out when the five-year lease expires. Is the landlord right?

Answer: Probably not. Under the “mail delivery rule,” there is a presumption that mail sent first class or certified is received. Although the presumption can be rebutted by the denial of receipt of the mailing, the mailing is still strong evidence of notice. Therefore, the landlord now has to convince a judge or jury that the notice was never received.

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