What Is a Month-to-Month Tenancy?

Month-to-Month Tenancies Explained in Less Than 5 Minutes

In This Article
View All
In This Article
Definition

A month-to-month tenancy is a lease agreement between a landlord and a tenant that grants tenancy on a monthly rolling basis.

A person drinks coffee while writing in a journal.
Photo:

Nicky Lloyd / Getty Images

A month-to-month tenancy is a lease agreement between a landlord and a tenant that grants tenancy on a monthly rolling basis. A tenant moves into an apartment, home, room, or other living space without the need to renew a lease at specified periods.

Learn more about month-to-month tenancy and whether it might be an option for you.

Definition and Examples of Month-to-Month Tenancy

A month-to-month tenancy renews each month. It doesn’t have an expiration date and will continue until the tenant or the landlord gives notice. A month-to-month tenancy can start as month-to-month or occur when a separate lease—such as a fixed-term lease—has expired and the tenant continues to live in the property. In these cases, the tenancy can become month-to-month.

Note

Some states require as little as a 15-day notice for month-to-month tenancies, while others can require more than 60 days.

For example, say you rented a two-bedroom apartment for $2,500 per month under a one-year lease. Once that year is up, you and your landlord may want to continue the arrangement, but you may not want to commit to renting for another year.

In this case, your landlord may agree to a month-to-month tenancy, in which you’d continue to make monthly rent payments but are not obligated to continue renting for another year.

How Month-to-Month Tenancies Work

Let’s consider another example to show how month-to-month tenancies work when you are the landlord.

Say that you’ve just received notice from your job that you’ll be working overseas for the next eight months. You own a home and are carrying a mortgage payment, so you will continue to have to make mortgage payments during your leave. 

Rather than leaving the property vacant, you consider renting it out. You consider a month-to-month tenancy because it may be difficult for you to find a tenant willing to sign a lease for eight months.

A month-to-month tenancy would allow you to collect rent and the flexibility to return to your home after you leave, assuming you give the tenant proper notice. Let’s say that you’ve rented out your property to a tenant and have nearly completed your time overseas. The state you live in only requires a 30-day notice if you've been gone less than a year. You're returning six months after you left, so you only need to give notice 30-days before you need your property.

Note

Eviction rules differ according to city laws. For example, in rent-controlled areas, you may not be able to cancel a month-to-month tenancy for any reason. Take this into account before entering into any leases.

The amount of notice you’ll need to give to terminate the lease depends on your state and any additional terms in the contract. For example, some states, such as California, will require a separate amount of notice if you’ve lived in the property for more than a year, even if you’re on a month-to-month lease. Additionally, some cities establish strong protections for month-to-month tenants, which include needing to give “just cause” for them to be evicted or forced to leave the property.

Pros and Cons of Month-to-Month Tenancies

Pros
  • Offer more flexibility

  • Can adjust rental rates as the market changes

  • No penalty for breaking the lease

Cons
  • Higher chance of vacancy

  • Some areas have fewer protections for tenants

  • Reduced revenue

Pros Explained

  • Offer more flexibility: Because a month-to-month tenancy has no fixed terms, it can offer more flexibility to tenants and landlords. Those looking for temporary stays or wanting to rent their homes out for a short amount of time will benefit from a month-to-month tenancy.
  • Can adjust rental rates as the market changes: Entering into a fixed-term contract can provide stability for a landlord, but it also locks you into a certain amount of rent. In areas where rent is rising, this can mean lost income. Month-to-month tenancies can allow you to change rent when appropriate—although this depends on your state’s laws.
  • No penalty: There is generally no penalty for ending a month-to-month lease.

Cons Explained

  • Higher chance of vacancy: Having a long-term tenant guarantees your property will not go vacant, allowing you to generate a reliable source of income. Relying on a month-to-month tenancy means you have a greater chance of having a vacancy if your tenant leaves and you have no other applicants.
  • Fewer protections as a tenant: Depending on your state, you may have fewer rights than a fixed-term tenant when it comes to your home. This can be important if your landlord wants to remove you from the property.
  • Reduced revenues: Landlords may face a higher turnover rate with month-to-month tenancies. This could raise the number of units they have vacant at any given time and reduce income and revenues.

Key Takeaways

  • A month-to-month tenancy is a lease with recurring monthly terms and no expiration date.
  • Month-to-month tenancies can offer fewer or more protections than fixed-term tenancies for tenants.
  • Month-to-month tenancies can occur with or without a written contract.
  • Each state has different rules regarding month-to-month tenancy and the notice you’re required to give to vacate or evict someone.
Was this page helpful?
Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute. "Month-to-Month Tenancy."

  2. California Courts. "Eviction Cases in California."

  3. California Legislative Information. "Chapter 2. Hiring of Real Property [1940 - 1954.06]."

  4. Los Angeles County Business & Consumer Affairs. "Written Notices From Your Landlord."

Related Articles