What is a Month-To-Month Rental Agreement?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

A month to month rental agreement is a legal agreement between a tenant and a landlord, or possibly renter of equipment or property and owner, which specifies the terms and obligations of each party. It includes things like rental amount, acceptable use of property, obligations of landlord, information about any deposits, and acceptability of a certain number or tenants or whether pets are allowed. This form of agreement tends to renew monthly but the terms of it aren’t static and some terms can change upon initiation of either party.

Month-to-month rental agreements are renewed on a monthly basis.
Month-to-month rental agreements are renewed on a monthly basis.

One change made by a tenant is to exit the agreement by returning the property or given notice to vacate a home or apartment. The month to month rental agreement specifies how much notice must be given. When deciding to move, a tenant usually has to give 30 days notice, and may be responsible for rent up to the 30 days even if he or she moves sooner. Notice doesn’t necessarily have to occur on the first of the month, but could occur any time.

Month-to-month rental agreements allow tenants who do not intend to rent for a long time the flexibility to move quickly.
Month-to-month rental agreements allow tenants who do not intend to rent for a long time the flexibility to move quickly.

Another thing that could change a month to month rental agreement via the tenant’s agency is increase in house population. Perhaps the tenant takes a roommate or a family renting a home has a new child. The agreement might need to be rewritten to accommodate a larger number of people in the home. Provided taking a roommate or increase population size in the home doesn’t violate the present agreement and merely changes the number of occupants, this is usually not an issue. A tenant and landlord could also create a new agreement if the landlord allows the tenant to have a pet, but no pet was present when the contract was created.

Month-to-month rental agreements should include information on making rent payments, acceptable use of property and whether pets are allowed.
Month-to-month rental agreements should include information on making rent payments, acceptable use of property and whether pets are allowed.

For many people looking to rent property from or to someone, there are pros and cons of the month to month rental agreement. It allows people to move quickly, if they don’t intend renting for long periods of time, which could be advantageous. It also allows landlords to evict tenants they don’t trust or like because they’re not obligated to retain them for more than one month at a time. Landlords can also more easily raise the rent, though they may have to give more than a month’s notice to accomplish this.

A lease typically covers a longer period of time than a month-to-month rental agreement.
A lease typically covers a longer period of time than a month-to-month rental agreement.

The opposite of a month to month rental agreement is a lease. This is an agreement between tenant and landlord that exists over a longer period of time, usually at least six month, and more often, at least a year. With a lease there can be advantages.

Rent is set at the price established at the onset of the lease. Without evidence of criminal activity or lease violation people can generally not be evicted. Leases make it hard for a renter who wants to leave sooner, though those who want the security of a long-term rental appreciate them. It should also be noted that many leases convert to a month to month rental agreement when they expire, but some landlords give tenants the opportunity to sign a new lease.

A month-to-month agreement allows a tenant the ability to vacate the rental unit quickly.
A month-to-month agreement allows a tenant the ability to vacate the rental unit quickly.
Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent wiseGEEK contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Discussion Comments

Reminiscence

I've had a month to month rental agreement with my landlord for nearly 20 years now, and I wouldn't dream of changing it. I don't like feeling locked in when it comes to contracts, and my landlord really doesn't like dealing with long term leases. If I ever get married or decide I need to move into a better neighborhood, all I need to do is give him a month's notice and he'll let me move out at my own pace. I've seen him do it with other tenants.

The biggest drawback to a standard month to month rental agreement is that it doesn't provide much protection for renters. If the landlord ever decides to sell the property, most tenants would only have 30 days to find someplace else to live and move everything out. It happened to me before I moved into my current apartment. The landlord sold the property to a retail developer and only gave us a 30 day warning.

AnswerMan

When I was younger, I always preferred a month to month rental agreement. There was always a chance I might find better employment in a different city, so being able to move out with just a 30 day notice was a good thing for me. Since I lived in a college town, the landlords didn't usually have much trouble finding a replacement tenant, either.

Now that I'm older, however, I much prefer to have at least a six month lease on an apartment or house. I don't want to risk a rent increase I can't afford, and I like the idea of knowing I'll have someplace to live for a while. It can convert to a standard month to month rental agreement later, but at first I want to be able to feel stable in my house.

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