The courts have found an email can be a valid way to exercise an option to renew a lease, but the notice must clearly state the tenant’s intention to renew and not introduce ambiguity.
In a recent case, the court held that an email satisfied a lease’s requirement that the renewal notice be in writing. The court also found that the words “may be given or served” indicated there was no requirement for actual physical delivery of the notice. With regard to the requirement for signing, the court held that the inclusion of the sender’s name on the email amounted to signing. The purpose of signing was to identify the sender and authenticate communication, and this was sufficiently achieved in the email by setting out the sender’s name together with the email address.
However, the court pointed out that its decision in this case rested on the particular wording in the lease, and did not mean that all options under all leases can be exercised by email. The court also said that at a minimum, a notice to exercise an option must satisfy the requirements of the notice in the lease, be clear and not indicate any ambiguity.
In this case, the tenant’s email wasn’t completely clear because it mentioned the possibility of further negotiating, stating the tenant wished to have “at least another 20 years” and “tie in” leases of different premises, both of which would have involved alteration of the current lease.