Understanding Month-to-Month Leases & Rental Agreements

Author: Alecia Pirulis


Renters have different needs when it comes to apartment living. Some may need green space and a pool, while others may need a downtown view from inside their loft-style apartment. How long you plan on staying in your place can also affect where you live. Depending on the need, you may prefer a 12 month lease agreement over a month-to-month basis, or vice versa.

Most renters tend to go for the year-long lease, but there are other term options available to choose from. Whether you’re in the apartment hunting process or weighing out your options because your lease is about to expire, a month-to-month lease may be exactly what you need.

There are benefits and drawbacks when renting month-to-month. Let’s take a look at them here:

The Benefits

Flexibility: Renting on a monthly basis offers renters more flexibility when moving, because you don’t have to worry about finding a subtenant or risk paying a fine for breaking your lease. Short-term leases like these are perfect for people who are moving to a new city. Month-to-month leasing allows renters to test out neighborhoods until the right one is found. Short-term rentals allow the opportunity to contemplate employment outside your present area when job- or apartment hunting.

Less Legal Responsibility: Once you have signed a fixed term lease on an apartment, you are legally bound to pay for all 12 months – or however many months are stated in the contract. A big advantage of a month-to-month lease is you are not subject to hefty charges when you decide to move out or break it. You will likely save money going this direction, rather than moving before the lease expires.

Easy to Convert: If you like where you live and want to make it more permanent, month-to-month leases are generally easy to convert into fixed term agreements. If you are worried about any adverse effects, the chances are slim to none. You might even be able to negotiate your contract with the landlord or manager since they know your history as a renter.

The Drawbacks

Rates are More Expensive: Most landlords and property managers need their units to be occupied at all times. To make a short-term lease worthwhile, they typically will charge more for rent than with a long-term or fixed lease. You will spend more in the long-run if you stick with a month-to-month lease over an extended period of time.

Exposure to Instability: Unfortunately, the benefit of flexibility also applies to property managers and landlords. Long-term contracts provide both parties protection for a longer period of time. In a month-to-month lease, you are more susceptible to increased rental rates or lease termination before you are ready to move.

Hard to Find: It’s hard to find month-to-month leases while apartment hunting, because managers aren’t keen on paying advertising costs associated with finding a new tenant. Essentially, they are riskier and inconvenient for landlords – because there is a risk of losing money if the apartment is not filled quickly. However, most leases allow the tenant to convert a month-to-month agreement once the term of the original lease has expired.

As you can see, month-to-month leases have both pros and cons – just think about what is right for you and your situation when the time comes to move. Renters who often move, have a temporary job, or who are moving to a new city altogether, might find a month-to-month lease more beneficial for them in that moment. Looking for a new apartment home? Find yours today on Apartment Finder!