How to Negotiate a Month-to-Month Rental Agreement with Your Landlord

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How to Negotiate a Month-to-Month Rental Agreement with Your Landlord

Staff Writer · Oct 26, 2009

Lots of what is in a rental agreement is often negotiable, and a lease term is one of those items that a landlord and tenant can talk about when sitting down to sign the lease. Many tenants are more comfortable having the freedom to move if necessary. It’s not always because they plan on leaving before the end of the lease-all kinds of unprecedented events can lead to tenants wanting to go elsewhere, and if they do decide to leave, they always can.

Having a month to month lease often just means there won’t be thorny legal and financial issues when a tenant decides to just pack up and leave.

The Month to Month Lease: Concerns

From the landlord’s point of view, a month to month lease can be a tricky situation. Most landlords don’t want to offer a month to month lease up front, because they make their money on being able to rent out a space consistently. In other words, if they have a housing unit sitting empty 3 to 4 months out of the year, they’re paying mortgages, property taxes, maintenance, etc. with a third less money. If a landlord can’t immediately find replacement tenants after a move, it’s not uncommon for them to lose a month, and that’s the argument against letting tenants have a month to month lease. There’s also a lot of work involved for a landlord in getting one set of tenants out of a space and another set in.

Negotiating a Month to Month Contract into a Lease Agreement

When a potential tenant and a landlord are looking at rental forms together, they often go over most of what’s on the lease, as a formality and to get on the same page regarding policy. This is the time to request a month to month lease situation. You may come up with a compromise, such as a year lease shortened to a six month lease with a month to month agreement following. Sometimes, a rental increase can be appropriate, but that’s not usually how a tenant would negotiate, since the rental price is generally adjusted to fit market value.

One great way to negotiate freer rental terms is to find out what the landlord is thinking and look at the situation from his or her perspective. If a tenant can offer a compromise that fits, they are well on their way to arranging the rental contract they want. Tenants can ask about which times of the year would be less convenient for landlords to work a tenant change around. The tenant can also provide a rental history, recommendations or other extras that can put the landlord’s mind at ease. All of this is a way to make a more equitable agreement by adding a human element to what is at times a strictly formal process.

If you need a little flexibility in a rental contract, make every effort to talk it out at the table before signing the lease. Having a deeper understanding up front will prevent a lot of problems later on.

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