Sometimes a one- or two-year apartment lease may not work for your needs. You might be traveling around the country and staying in various places for only a few months at a time. Or you might have an upcoming project overseas but your lease is up and you need a place to stay until the move. In times like these, a month-to-month rental agreement may be the ticket.
Short-term Lease Basics
A month-to-month residential rental agreement is a short-term lease that binds you and your landlord to a month-long occupancy contract. According to the NYC Rent Guidelines Board, like long-term leases, this agreement will detail what the renter is responsible for, including the amount of the security deposit and -- possibly -- the utilities. Even in a shortened lease, tenants are usually still required to give a down payment equal to one month's rent. The lease will also outline what the landlord will or will not repair. Read the lease carefully before signing. At the end of 28 to 31 days, the landlord may or may not offer another an extension of the lease. These types of agreements are usually found in areas where there is high demand for rental units and low supply, or during times of rising rents.
According to Jason Chan of Queens-based JLC Realty LLC in New York City, which manages several short-term lease properties, a variety of people have a need for short-term leases. In the summer months, they see mostly students on summer internships and people on long vacations. They've also had renters who were visiting family because of a new baby or to help care for another family member. Professionals on temporary assignments outside their hometowns also make use of short-term housing. CorporateHousingbyOwner.com caters to this population and as of 2012 expects the use of month-to-month housing to increase.
With a shorter lease, you have the flexibility to move almost whenever you want, says Moving Today. In 12-month leases, most landlords require you give 60 days notice, and if you vacate the property before the year is up, you will be penalized for breaking the lease. In a month-to-month agreement, you can leave the property any time after you pay your month's rent, without penalty, assuming you tell your landlord you plan to leave by the end of the month at lease signing. Rent.com advises that if you plan to live in a particular area for a longer period of time, an initial short-term lease allows you the time to get to know the town and find the right living location before settling in for a longer lease.
Each month brings a new leasing period and potential changes in the lease terms, says Rent.com. The landlord can raise the rent each time the lease is renewed, and these rentals are already typically higher to begin with. Compared to a year-long lease, month-to-month rents can range from $100 more per month to more than double the monthly rent of longer leases. The landlord also doesn’t have to offer you a new rental agreement at the end of the month and you’ll have to find new living accommodations quickly — typically within 30 days of the non-renewal notice.
Rent.com warns that some rental management companies may be wary of people who haven’t had longer lease terms in their rental history. They may see you as someone who would break a lease and leave them without rental revenue for an unknown period of time. Being seen as a risky tenant may make it difficult to find long-term leases in the future.
Jorina Fontelera has been writing about business since 2003, covering the printing and manufacturing sectors, as well as the global accounting and financial industries. She has contributed to "USA Today," "Milwaukee Business Journal" and several trade publications, also writing about parenting, animals, food and entertainment. Fontelera holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Marquette University.