Understanding Month-to-Month Leases & Rental Agreements

Author: Apartment Finder  


Most renters initially get locked into a one year lease, but there are other options available. Whether you’re fresh in the apartment hunting process or you’re weighing your options because your lease is about to expire, a month-to-month lease may be exactly what you need.

Let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of month-to-month leases:

The Benefits

  • Flexibility: If your current situation is in flux, you’re not in a position to break your lease or find a subletter when it comes time to move. A month-to-month lease grants you the opportunity to contemplate employment outside your present commuting zone when you’re job hunting and apartment hunting.
  • Less legal responsibility: Once that one year lease is signed, you are legally bound to pay rent for all 12 months. A big advantage of signing a month-to-month lease is you aren’t subjected to hefty charges when you need to break your lease. You’ll likely save money going this direction rather than moving before your 12 month lease expires.
  • ?Easy to convert: If your living situation becomes stable or more permanent, month-to- month leases are generally easy to convert into a 12 month lease. If you’re worried about any adverse effects, the chances are slim to none. At this point, you are in a position to negotiate a more affordable rental rate for a longer leaser term.

The Drawbacks

  • Rental 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 charge tenants more for monthly rent. You will overpay in rent if you decide to stick with a month-to-month lease over an extended period of time.
  • Exposure to instability: Unfortunately, the benefit of flexibility also applies to your property manager or landlord. Long-term contracts provide both parties protection for a longer period of time. In a month-to-month, you are vulnerable to rent being raised or having your lease terminated before you’re ready to move.
  • Hard to find: Month-to-month leases are hard to find while apartment hunting, because property owners aren’t keen on paying advertising and holding costs associated with finding a new tenant. Essentially, they’re riskier and inconvenient for landlords, because there’s the risk of losing money if the apartment is not occupied quickly. However, most leases allow the tenant to convert to a month-to-month lease once the terms of the original lease has expired.