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Month-to-Month Rentals: A Guide + How to Find Them [2024]

Month-to-month leases are an agreement between a landlord and tenant that renews at the end of every rental period. Continue to learn more.

Are you looking for a flexible housing solution in an ever-changing world? A month-to-month lease could be your answer. Ideal for those who move frequently or wish to experience a new city without long-term commitments these leases combine the convenience of short-term arrangements with the potential for long-standing agreements, adapting to both renter and landlord needs.

Discover how this unique living option fits into your rental journey through our comprehensive guide.

Month-to-Month Rentals: A Complete Overview

What Is a Month-to-Month Rental?

A month-to-month lease, often termed a 'periodic tenancy,' is a flexible rental agreement between a tenant and landlord without a predetermined termination date. This lease type renews each month automatically until either party, landlord or tenant, issues a legally-recognized notice to conclude the agreement.

While commonly associated with short-term rentals, month-to-month leases can extend for several years, especially in scenarios where the tenant-landlord relationship is stable and mutually beneficial. However, understanding your personal needs and the implications of a month-to-month lease is crucial in deciding if this type of rental agreement aligns with your lifestyle.

What is a Month to Month Lease?

How Do Month-to-Month Rentals Work?

Month-to-month leases operate on an automatically renewing system, providing ongoing occupancy until either the landlord or tenant opts out. This type of rental agreement offers significant flexibility – it permits either the landlord or tenant to terminate the lease at any time, for any reason, subject to a stipulated notice period. This notice period varies based on state regulations and specific lease agreements, typically ranging from 30 to 90 days.

This notice period is critical as it allows the other party time to prepare for the change – landlords to find new tenants and renters to secure new accommodation. Understanding your notice period is essential in a month-to-month lease, as it governs how quickly you or your landlord can make changes to the rental situation.

How to Find Month-to-Month Rental Apartments Near You

When you fill out Apartment List's quiz and sign up to be matched with the right apartment, you'll be able to select the lease length that you desire. Additionally, you can return to your profile settings and update this filter at any time.

However, if you have your eye on a place that doesn't explicitly state that they accept month-to-month leases, it never hurts to inquire. You can use our internal messaging system to reach out to any landlord and ask about a month-to-month rental option. Here's a template you can use for that kind of inquiry:

Month-to-Month Apartments: Tips and Tricks

Month-to-Month Rental Inquiry Template

Hello!

I am writing to express my interest in the apartment available at [Property Address] as I believe it would be a great fit for me. I am particularly interested in finding a flexible leasing arrangement, and I wanted to inquire whether you offer month-to-month leasing options. If month-to-month leasing is available, I would be grateful to hear more about the terms, rental rates, and any specific requirements you might have.

Additionally, I would be happy to provide you with any necessary information or references to facilitate the application process. Please feel free to contact me via email at [Email Address] or by phone at [Phone Number] to discuss the leasing options further or to schedule a viewing.

Thank you for your time.

Best, [Name]

Month-to-month rentals are increasingly popular thanks to the ever-changing rental and job markets. Here are a few factors contributing to the popularity of monthly leases:

  • According to data from the McKinsey Institute, 36% of workers are "independent," meaning many Americans are doing short-term, gig, and contract work. Such workers may also seek out more flexible living arrangements, too.
  • Americans move a lot. Between 18 and 45, the average American will move 5 times according to this NASDAQ article.
  • Unexpected personal changes like job changes, breakups, or new relationships can necessitate quick moves. The COVID pandemic precipated a lot of such changes for people.
  • While landlords can raise rent with notice in month-to-month agreements, you can choose to move if the increase doesn't suit your budget.

Pros and Cons of Month-to-Month Rentals

Before you sign, make sure you understand the pros and cons of a month-to-month lease.

What Are the Advantages of a Month-to-Month Lease?

  • Added Flexibility: A monthly rental agreement keeps your life more flexible, and you’ll avoid penalties for breaking a traditional lease early.
  • Limited Penalties: There are few, if any, penalties and fines when you terminate a monthly lease and move on.
  • Good Path to a Full-Time Lease: If you have bad credit or an eviction history, month-to-month leases can be a great way to develop a relationship with a landlord while minimizing their risk in renting to you. Once you prove you’re a quality, reliable tenant, it’s often easier to convert to a full-time lease.
  • Less Financial Risk: Month-to-month leases minimize financial risks by avoiding the hefty penalties often associated with breaking long-term lease agreements.

Pros of Month to Month Leasing

What Are the Disadvantages of a Month-to-Month Lease?

  • Expensive Rent Prices: Renting on a month-to-month basis is generally more expensive than signing a traditional lease. Many apartments that offer month-to-month rentals will present you with a tiered pricing structure based on how long your lease is. The longer the lease, the more affordable your apartment usually is.
  • Risk of Lease Termination: Flexible lease terms allow your landlord to eliminate your contract provided they give you the legally required termination notification. While a full-time lease could ensure that your apartment remains yours for a year or more, both parties in a month-to-month lease are allowed to terminate in the short-term.
  • Rent Instability: When you sign a short-term lease, you may find yourself dealing with rental instability and raises in your rental costs.
  • Fewer Tenant Protections: Month-to-month leases often provide fewer tenant protections, making renters more vulnerable to sudden changes in lease terms.

Understanding these pros and cons helps in deciding if a month-to-month lease is right; next, learn how to terminate one effectively.

Cons of Month to Month Leasing

Is a Month-to-Month Lease Right For You?

Flexible lease terms are ideal if you’re about to experience a significant life change in the next few months, like a career move, relocating to a new area, expecting a child, or getting married. They are also a great way to try out an unfamiliar location.

Renters who purchase a home or undergo renovations also require a flexible lease. Or you may want to buy a new construction home with no set move-in date that requires a short-term place to live.

How Do You Terminate a Month-to-Month Lease?

Terminating a month-to-month lease requires giving a formal notice to vacate letter, typically 30 days in advance, although this can vary based on local laws. It's crucial to adhere to the specific legal requirements in your area, including the method of delivering the notice - be it via mail, email, or in person. Ensure you have proof of this notice being received. After delivering the notice, we advise arranging a final apartment inspection to discuss the return of your security deposit and address any potential deductions.

This streamlined process ensures both parties - landlords and tenants - can conclude their lease agreement amicably and legally, avoiding any unnecessary complications. Always review your lease agreement and local laws for the most accurate guidance.

Let Apartment List Help You Find a Month-to-Month Rental

Now that we’ve answered “what is a month-to-month lease” is, you can decide if the flexibility is worth the trade-offs of higher prices and potential rent instability. If you’re already renting, you can speak to your current landlord about changing from a long-term to a short-term lease or take ApartmentList’s quiz to find the perfect rental for you.

Month-to-Month Lease FAQs

Are Month-to-Month Apartment Rentals Expensive?

Yes, a month-to-month leases is typically more expensive than a 12-month rental agreement. Some landlords that offer short-term leases also have a tiered rental system based on lease length, with the longest leases providing the most savings (and the shortest leases commanding the highest rental prices).

Can Landlords Raise the Rent on a Month-to-Month Lease?

Yes, one of the drawbacks of a month-to-month lease is that rental price can be subject to increase. In most cases, a landlord can raise your rent to reflect market rates with a 30-day notice if you are on a month-to-month lease.

What Happens if I Don't Give Proper Notice when Terminating a Month-to-Month Lease?

Failing to give proper notice may result in penalties, such as being responsible for an additional month's rent.

Does a Month-to-Month Lease Need to be Signed Every Month?

No, month-to-month leases automatically renew every month until one party legally terminates the lease.

What Is Another Name for a Month-to-Month Lease?

A month-to-month lease is also known as a short-term lease or short-term rental agreement.

What Is Periodic Tenancy?

Periodic tenancy is a leasing arrangement with no specified end-date. Month-to-month leases are often an example of periodic tenancy. The renter can renew indefinitely as long as the landlord does not wish to terminate the agreement (and vice versa).

What Is Tenancy-at-Will?

Tenancy-at-will is an arrangement between a landlord and tenant with no contract that can be terminated at any time. It differs from most traditional month-to-month leases in that there is no written contract between the landlord and tenant.

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Dr. Katherine Blake
CONTENT EDITOR
Dr. Katherine Blake is a content editor with Apartment List, where she helps ensure our renter and rental management content is fresh and informed by the latest data. Read More
Tristian Brown
SENIOR CONTENT ASSOCIATE
Tristian Brown is a Senior Content Marketing Associate at Apartment List, where he manages high-quality content that helps modern renters find the perfect home. He brings an immense wealth of knowledge to the team, having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing and European Management from the University of San Diego and EM Strasbourg Business School. Read More
Justin Chaplin
AUTHOR
Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
Susan Finch
AUTHOR
Susan is an accomplished freelance writer whose passion for rental real estate, travel, and digital marketing has been the driving force behind her nearly 15-year career. Throughout her professional journey, Susan has become a seasoned veteran in creating compelling and informative content focused on the tenant/landlord relationship. Read More

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