What Are Month-to-Month Leases?

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Want a short-term lease?

Most apartment leases require a renter (tenant) to rent for a long period of time, often a year. If a renter want to leave early, they have to pay for the months remaining on their lease, at least until a new tenant is found.

Month-to-month leases are much more flexible.  They allow a tenant to rent until they are ready to leave.  At most, the tenant can only be liable for one month of rent.  So, they are perfect for people moving to new cities or looking for a job.

If you’re considering a month-to-month lease, here’s what you need to know:

The Basics

A month-to-month lease is an agreement between a tenant and a landlord.  Under the agreement, the landlord agrees to rent the property to the tenant on an indefinite monthly basis.  That is, the tenant gets to rent the apartment for one month, then, if neither side ends the agreement, the tenant gets to rent the apartment for another month, and so on.

Ending the Lease

Generally, either side can end the month-to-month lease with one month’s notice to the other side. However, some leases might require greater notice.

So, if the tenant finds out that he/she will be moving into a new place, he/she needs to notify the landlord 30 days before that date or else be responsible for additional rent.  Likewise, if the landlord wants to end the agreement for whatever reason, he/she can do so with appropriate notice.

Notice should always be put in writing.  If a tenant intends to move out, he/she should immediately write a letter to the landlord that details the move out date.

Sample of Timely Notice:

  • September 1 – new month begins under month-to-month lease.
  • September 7 – Tenant decides to move into a new place on November 1.
  • September 11 – Tenant notifies landlord in writing of his intent to move out on October 31.
  • October 1 – the last month of the month-to-month agreement begins.
  • October 31 – the month-to-month agreement ends.

Sample of Untimely Notice:

  • September 1 – new month begins under month-to-month lease.
  • September 7 – Tenant decides to move into a new place on October 1.
  • September 11 – Tenant notifies landlord in writing of his intent to move out on September 30.
  • October 11 – month-to-month lease ends.  Tenant is liable for rent up to this day, which is 30 days after he provided notice.  Essentially, he owes an extra four days of rent.

Pros and Cons

For some, renting on a month-to-month basis is a lifesaver.  However, it isn’t right for everybody.


  • Flexible – A tenant can terminate a month-to-month lease whenever the tenant sees fit, letting the tenant pursue a new job or a different home.
  • Not risky – Even if a tenant ends his month-to-month lease early, he will not be liable for many months of rent.
  • Cheap – Though month-to-month leases generally have higher monthly rents, a tenant need only guarantee a relatively small amount of money (one month, usually).


  • Landlord can terminate – Landlords can terminate month-to-month leases. So, a tenant might find himself with only a month to find a new spot.
  • Expensive – Month-to-month leases generally cost the landlord more because they need to find new tenants more often.  Therefore, they usually come with a higher price tag.
  • Not yours – Most people don’t stay in month-to-month leases long, because they are too indefinite.

How to Find a Month-to-Month Lease

Month-to-month leases can be found anywhere.  Many apartment complexes offer them, though at a higher rate, and many private landlords prefer them because they have the power to end the lease at their will.

Month-to-month leases are usually noted in ads.  However, even if an ad does not mention it being month-to-month, you can still contact the landlord to try to negotiate a month-to-month lease.

If a month-to-month lease doesn’t sound right for you, consider subleasing, which comes with a more-definite rental term.