Many renters have month-to-month leases instead of year-long leases. Because these are often informal, verbal agreements, the terms can sometimes be unclear. Rest assured, most states have specific laws concerning what can and cannot happen when you use a month-to-month lease.
Select your state from the dropdown menu at the top of this page to learn about the month-to-month lease laws that apply to you, or continue reading for a general overview.
In this article
Establishing a month-to-month lease
Month-to-month leases are a type of periodic tenancy that automatically renews at the end of every rent payment period. These tenancies are typically established in one of the following ways:
- The landlord and tenant have a verbal agreement for a month-to-month lease. (This can be as informal as a landlord saying someone can crash with them for a few months, as long as they pay a certain amount every month).
- The landlord and tenant have a written agreement that creates a month-to-month lease.
- The tenant stays on after a fixed-term lease expires and keeps paying rent. When the landlord accepts the rent a new month-to-month tenancy is created.
Unlike a fixed-term tenancy, which has a specific start and end date, month-to-month tenancies are a lot more flexible. There are pros and cons to both sorts of agreements: month-to-month tenancies are more flexible, but they are also more unpredictable since either party could end them at any time with just a few weeks' notice.
Ending a month-to-month lease
Thirty days’ notice is usually required
Both landlords and tenants have the power to end a month-to-month lease whenever they want. However, most states require them to give the other party a certain amount of advance notice—usually 30 days. In some states, like Texas, that means 30 calendar days from the date the termination notice is delivered. In others, it means the last day of the month, as long as it's at least 30 days away. (For example, if a landlord delivered notice on August 15th, the tenancy wouldn’t be up until September 30th in states like Illinois and Massachusetts.)
But 30 days isn't standard everywhere. In Florida, you only have to give 15 days' notice to end a month-to-month lease. And California requires 60 days' notice if a tenant has been living in a unit for longer than a year.
Month-to-month leases can be ended for any reason
While landlords can only evict a tenant for doing something wrong—like not paying rent or breaking the terms of the lease—they don’t need any specific reason to terminate a month-to-month lease. The only thing they can’t do is end a lease to get back at a tenant or due to discrimination for things like gender, race, nationality, or another protected class under fair housing laws.
If a month-to-month tenant does violate their lease agreement, landlords can formally evict them. But because the eviction process in many states can take months—and is very time-consuming—landlords may have an easier time ending a month-to-month lease with a 30-day notice.
Changing a month-to-month lease
If a landlord wants to change the lease terms in some way—for instance, a landlord wants to raise the monthly rent, or add a no-pets rule—they have to tell their tenant in advance. How far in advance depends on the state, but it tends to be 30 days.
If a tenant doesn’t agree to the new terms after trying to negotiate, they must make it crystal-clear that they are not renewing the lease. They should do so by sending their own notice of termination, ideally in writing.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.