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What are month-to-month apartments?

It's your home, yet it's temporary and convenient.
It's your home, yet it's temporary and convenient.
Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock

To move into a new apartment, you have to make arrangements with the landlord. There are quite a few details to knock out, like how much you'll be paying, how many people (if any) will be living in the place with you and how long you plan on staying. These arrangements are usually formalized in a rental agreement or lease, which is a binding legal document.

The duration of your stay is one of the major factors in determining the type of agreement you enter into. One of the most popular agreements is a fixed-term lease, and the most popular term-length is a year. These fixed-term arrangements have advantages for both the landlord and the tenant. They lock in rates for tenants and promote stability and cost control for landlords.

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A month-to-month rental agreement has a relatively short term. Although it's less common than a yearly fixed-term lease, it can have its advantages. If you don't know how long you'll be staying in an area or you know that you'll be staying for less than six months to a year, then opting for a short-term, flexible rental is a practical choice. If you sign a longer agreement and can't stay for the whole term, you may be legally responsible to pay the full amount of the lease whether you're there or not, or you'll have to find someone to sublet the apartment. Because they're so flexible, month-to-month leases are popular with students, people who travel for work and vacationers.

There are some disadvantages to a month-to-month apartment rental you should consider:

  • The rental amount may increase on short notice.
  • Short-term renters may be given notice to vacate or be subjected to changes in the rental terms, like a change in policy about pets, on relatively short notice.
  • Since a landlord may incur higher expenses, like cleaning, advertising and credit checks on short-term rental apartments, these costs are usually passed on to the tenant in the form of slightly higher rents.
  • Short-term leases may only be available in certain limited locations, like near colleges, in tourist towns or in lower-income areas.

Although the particulars of a month-to-month apartment agreement may vary, changes in the terms of the agreement will usually involve giving written notice at least 30 days in advance. This is true for the tenant as well as the landlord. Other details, like the deposit amount and what constitutes appropriate use are spelled out in a short-term rental agreement just as they are in a longer term lease.

A month-to-month apartment rental is a flexible arrangement for the renter, but flexibility comes at a price. The one exception is when a standard-lease term expires. It isn't uncommon for a standard lease of a year or more to convert to a month-to-month arrangement after the lease term has elapsed. If rent is relatively flat in the area, making it unlikely that it'll go up, this type of month-to-month rental doesn't cost more but can be a flexible option for the renter who is contemplating a change of residence in the future.

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Sources

  • All Business. "Are There Any Benefits to a Month-to-Month Rental Agreement for My Rental Property?" Undated. 7/26/10.http://www.allbusiness.com/legal/contracts-agreements-real-estate/4072-1.html
  • California Department of Consumer Affairs. "Before You Agree to Rent." Undated. 7/25/10.http://dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/before-rent.shtml
  • Ellis-Christensen,Tricia. "What Is a Month-To-Month Rental Agreement?" WiseGeek.com. Undated 7/25/10.http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-month-to-month-rental-agreement.htm
  • Free Legal Documents. "Short Term Rental." Undated. 7/25/10.http://www.free-legal-document.com/short-term-rental.html
  • Got Trouble. "Month- to-Month Lease Agreements." Undated. 7/25/10.http://guides.gottrouble.com/Month_to_month_lease_agreements-a1179160.html
  • Socrates. "Month-to-Month Rental Agreement." Undated. 7/25/10.http://www.socrates.com/p-8485-month-to-month-rental-agreement.aspx

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