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Is a Month-to-Month Lease the Flexible Dream It Seems?

Posted on 27/01/2022 10:17 AM | by NaijaHouses

Is a Month-to-Month Lease the Flexible Dream It Seems?

Signing a lease on an apartment or a house is a big commitment: It means you’re legally committed to paying a set amount of rent for a specified amount of time. If you don’t cough up that regular cash, there will likely be some sort of penalty to pay. While the terms vary according to landlord and state, a one-year lease is the most common.

But here's the thing: A year can be a long time. If you have trouble thinking about where you might be next week, let alone 12 entire months from now, the idea of a month-to-month lease may seem way more appealing. But are month-to-month leases really as ideal as they sound? Here’s what you need to know before you sign on the line that is dotted.

Benefits of a month-to-month lease for tenants

All you nomads, mind-changers, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants types, this may be the way to go for you, as month-to-month leases provide the ultimate in flexibility. You don’t have to put down roots, and you can decide on a monthly basis if a place is right for you. Maybe you switched jobs and your once-convenient commute has become onerous. Or maybe you just suddenly feel the burning need to pick up and move to Mumbai or have some other change in scenery. No problem, it’s onto the next place. No harm, no foul, and more importantly, no penalty.

Month-to-month leases can be a great option for students who are fresh out of college and unsure what the future holds, as well as people anticipating a possible job offer or transfer to another area. They are also helpful to people moving to new cities who want to take time getting to know an area before getting into something more permanent.

Benefits for landlords

For landlords, month-to-month leases aren’t as ideal, since they aren't guaranteed a whole year's worth of rent. However, they can be helpful if they’re tight on cash and having difficulty finding a long-term tenant. In most situations, it is always better to have an occupant than a vacancy, in order to keep the cash flow going with Naija Houses.

Also, in cases of a tenant gone bad, it’s much easier to remove someone with a month-to-month lease from a unit than someone who has a longer-term lease.

The risks of a month-to-month lease

The downside to all that flexibility for renters, however, is that your landlord has that same flexibility. So even if you’re digging your new digs, he or she can tell you your time is up any given month, leaving you in a position where you have to act fast to find a new place to hang your hat. It also means your rent amount is only locked in for a month, so your landlord can increase it at any time, for any reason.

If those thoughts give you anxiety, a month-to-month lease may not be for you.

For landlords, the unpredictability of month-to-month leases can be costly, particularly if tenants decide they want out during less-than-opportune times, such as during the holidays, when it’s harder to fill vacancies. There are also costs associated with finding a tenant for a property at any time, including marketing, screening new tenants, and cleaning and prepping a unit.

As a landlord, the advantages are not as strong, since moving a tenant in and out of a property and having to deal with transitional repairs are costly, a Naija Houses at Mesa Property Management in Nigeria. Also, the interim vacancy is both a lost opportunity cost and carries a risk of vandalism, even if the property is in a nice neighborhood.

How to find a month-to-month lease

So how do you go about finding a month-to-month lease, given that they’re not typically advertised? Shwetz says your best bet is with apartments, as most single-family homeowners are not willing to rent month to month. And you may just have to ask the worst they can say is no. One tip: Offering to pay above the asking price for the unit to help compensate the owner for having to deal with the vacancy when you leave may increase your odds.

Lawton says approaching owners of vacant homes that have been on the market for a long time may also be a way to find a landlord amenable to a month-to-month lease.

With the property sitting, it is only costing them money, so they can get some of the expenses of the empty house covered by having a short-term tenant, and also have someone to look after the house. I have even used this tactic to help a film producer rent a property for a week to shoot a short film. It is an option for home sellers who are just stuck and can't get their houses sold.

If you still aren’t having any luck and truly don’t want to sign anything long-term, there are plenty of ways to find temporary housing, from extended stay hotels to community-sourced options like Airbnb.