There are a variety of potential benefits to renting to a tenant on a month to month lease, such as higher rent and the ability to raise the rent every few months.
Another advantage of having a tenant rent by the month is that you’re able to remove the tenant when you choose. However, be sure to follow the rules and give the required notice on a month to month lease to avoid accidentally breaking the law.
What is a Month to Month Lease?
Most residential leases are for a 12 month tenancy. The landlord agrees to rent the property to the tenant for one year, and in exchange the tenant promises to pay the rent on time and in full, to take care of the property, and to abide by the terms and conditions of the rental agreement.
A month to month lease works in a similar way, except that the tenancy is month to month. Either the landlord or tenant can terminate the lease by giving the amount of written notice required by the lease or by applicable landlord-tenant laws, which typically ranges from as little as 3 days to 90 days.
How to Write a Month to Month Lease
The structure of a short-term month to month lease is similar to a longer term lease. The main difference is a clause in the lease that allows either party to terminate the monthly lease with the proper notice.
If you’re interested in seeing a month to month lease, you can download samples of free month to month lease agreements for your state from websites including eForms, LegalTemplates, and RentalLease.com.
Understand State Landlord Tenant Law
Although the legal resource website Nolo.com maintains a list of State Rules on Notice Required to Change or Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy that we’ve summarized below, you may wish to consult with an attorney to verify the laws that apply in your jurisdiction:
|Alabama||30 days||30 days|
|Alaska||30 days||30 days|
|Arizona||30 days||30 days|
|Arkansas||30 days||30 days|
|California||30 days||30 days|
|Colorado||21 days||21 days|
|Connecticut||Not specified||3 days|
|Delaware||60 days||60 days|
|District of Columbia||30 days||30 – 120 days|
|Florida||15 days||15 days|
|Georgia||30 days||60 days|
|Hawaii||28 days||45 days|
|Idaho||1 month||15 – 30 days|
|Illinois||30 days||30 days|
|Indiana||1 month||1 month|
|Iowa||30 days||30 days|
|Kansas||30 days||30 days|
|Kentucky||30 days||30 days|
|Louisiana||10 days||10 days|
|Maine||30 days||30 days|
|Maryland||1 month||1 month|
|Massachusetts||Visit website||Visit website|
|Michigan||1 month||1 month|
|Minnesota||Visit website||Visit website|
|Mississippi||30 days||30 days|
|Missouri||1 month||1 month|
|Montana||30 days||30 days|
|Nebraska||30 days||30 days|
|Nevada||30 days||30 days|
|New Hampshire||30 days||30 days|
|New Jersey||1 month||1 month|
|New Mexico||30 days||30 days|
|New York||1 month||30 – 90 days|
|North Carolina||7 days||7 days|
|North Dakota||1 month||1 month|
|Ohio||30 days||30 days|
|Oklahoma||30 days||30 days|
|Oregon||30 days||30 days|
|Pennsylvania||15 days||Visit website|
|Rhode Island||30 days||30 days|
|South Carolina||30 days||30 days|
|South Dakota||1 month||1 month|
|Tennessee||30 days||30 days|
|Texas||1 month||1 month|
|Utah||Visit website||15 days|
|Vermont||1 rental period||30 days|
|Virginia||30 days||30 days|
|Washington||20 days||20 days|
|West Virginia||1 month||1 month|
|Wisconsin||28 days||28 days|
|Wyoming||No statute||No statute|
The above list is only a general guideline. Be sure to visit Nolo.com and speak to your lawyer to learn about other requirements for ending a month to month tenancy.
Landlords should keep in mind that in most jurisdictions, notice to terminate a month-to-month lease must be given before the current month begins.
For example, if your property is in a locality that requires a 30-day notice to end the lease and you want the lease to end on July 31st, you would need to give the tenant a termination notice prior to July 1st. If the tenant doesn’t receive the notice until after July 1st, the tenant would not be required to vacate until the end of August.
How to Write a 30 Day Notice
The key to successfully ending a month to month lease begins with a 30-day notice letter. The notice should recite basic information included in the lease in the event that the tenant refuses to leave and you have to begin an eviction, including:
- Property address
- Tenant name
- Landlord / property manager name
- Starting and ending dates of the month the lease is in (for example, July 1st – July 31st)
- Lease termination date
- Reason for terminating the month to month lease, if required
- Responsibilities of tenant when vacating the property (such as leaving utilities on for the walkthrough and completion of the move-out checklist)
- Security deposit to be refunded (less deduction for damages beyond normal wear and tear, if allowed by law)
- Date of notice
- Signature of landlord / property manager
Delivering the 30-Day Notice
The 30-day notice letter to terminate a month to month lease may be delivered to the tenant in person and followed up with certified mail, return receipt requested.
In most cases there probably won’t be a problem with the tenant leaving. But by using certified mail to send the notice, you’re able to prove the 30-day notice letter was properly delivered in the event the tenant refuses to leave and you need to begin an eviction.
Where to Find a Free 30 Day Notice Letter
There are a number of websites where you can download a free 30-day notice or lease termination letter, including:
Can You End a Lease With Less than 30 Days Notice?
There are situations when you may want to try and end a month to month lease in less than 30 days.
For example, you may have received an offer from a buyer for your property or the tenant may be violating the lease and you need to remove them before they cause further damage.
Lease Termination by Mutual Agreement
A landlord and tenant can agree to end a lease at any time, provided that the agreement is mutual. Your tenant may be willing to leave early if you help them find another place or help pay for their relocation expenses using a “cash for keys” incentive.
Lease Termination by Tenant Breach
A month to month lease can also be ended before 30 days if the tenant is violating the terms and conditions of the lease. For example, if the tenant is not paying the rent or destroying the property, you can give the tenant a three-day notice to vacate and begin the eviction process.
Oftentimes tenants will willingly leave when they receive an eviction notice. You may be able to recover the amount of rent due by withholding all or part of the tenant security deposit, if applicable law allows.
Keep in mind that some violations by a tenant are curable, such as paying the outstanding rent. In situations like these, it may be a good idea to send a 30-day notice to terminate the lease in addition to a notice for unpaid rent.
Other tenant violations are non curable, such as conducting illegal activity from the property. Upon receiving the notice, the tenant may have little recourse other than to vacate or to seek relief from the court.
Final Thoughts on This Topic
Failing to give a 30 day notice on a month to month lease can create potential problems for a landlord. Most leases that run by the month contain an automatic renewal clause, which means that the lease is automatically extended month after month.
Requiring a tenant to leave before they are required may violate their rights and the law. Be sure to follow the rules when you want to end a month to month lease and consult your lawyer, as needed, to fully understand your rights.