Lease or Month to Month?

 

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  • Before you can rent a rental unit, you must enter into one of two kinds of agreements: a month to month rental agreement or a lease.. The lease creates the tenant’s right to live in the rental unit. The tenant’s right to use and possess the landlord’s rental unit is called a tenancy.

     

    A month to month rental agreement states the length of time (the number of days) between the rent payments normally a month, but it could be for a week..

     

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    A rental agreement that requires one rent payment each month is a month-to-month rental agreement, and the tenancy is a month-to-month tenancy.51 The month-to-month rental agreement is by far the most common kind of rental

    agreement, although longer (or shorter) rental periods can be specified.

     

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    If the periodic rental agreement requires that rent be paid once a week, it is a week-to-week rental agreement and the tenancy is a week-to-week tenancy.52

     

    In effect, a periodic rental agreement expires at the end of each period. The tenant can continue to live in the rental unit as long as the tenant continues to pay rent, and as long as the landlord does not ask the tenant to leave.

     

    In a rental agreement, the length of time between the rent payments (the rental period) determines three things:

     

  • How often the tenant must pay rent;

  • The amount of notice that a tenant and landlord must give, if either one decides to terminate (end) the tenancy; and

  • The amount of advance notice the landlord must give the tenant if the landlord decides to change the terms of the rental agreement. (Special rules apply to the amount of advance notice that the landlord must give the tenant to raise the rent.

     

    Oral rental agreements

     

    In an oral rental agreement, you and the tenant agree orally (not in writing) that you will rent the rental unit. In addition, the tenant agrees to pay each month. This kind of rental agreement is legally binding on both you and the tenant, even though it is not in writing. If however you enter into an oral lease for a term more than one year, the agreement must be in writing. If such an agreement is not in writing, it is not enforceable. If you have a valid oral agreement and later have a disagreement with your landlord, you will have no written proof of the terms of your rental agreement. Therefore, it’s best to have a written rental agreement.

     

    However, even if the agreement is oral, you must give you a written statement regarding your name, street address, and phone number for receipt of legal notices; the contact information for the person who is to accept the rent; and how the rent is to be paid (for example by cash, check or money order.)

     

    It’s especially important to have a written rental agreement if your tenancy involves special circumstances, such as any of the following:

     

  • You plan to rent the unit for a long time (for example, nine months or a year);

     

  • You have agreed to allowing a pet or water-filled furniture (such as a waterbed); or

  • There is a special agreement regarding the payment of any expenses (for example, utilities or garbage removal) or to provide any services (for example, a gardener).

     

    Written rental agreements

     

    A written rental agreement is a periodic rental agreement that has been put in writing. The written rental agreement specifies all the terms of the agreement between you and the tenant – for example, it states the rent, the length of time between rent payments, and you and the tenant’s obligations. It may also contain clauses on pets, late fees, and amount of notice.

     

    The length of time between rent payments is important. In most cases, the amount of advance notice that you must give to the tenant of changes in the terms of the tenancy must be the same as the length of time between rent payments. For example, if you have a month-to- month rental agreement, you usually must give the tenant 30 days’ advance written notice of changes.

     

    In addition, the amount of advance written notice that the tenant must give you before the tenant moves out of the rental unit must be the same as the length of time between rent payments. For example, in a month-to-month rental agreement, the tenant must give you at least 30 days’ advance written notice in order to end the rental agreement

     

    Normally the amount of advance written notice that you give the tenant to change the terms of the tenancy must be, at a minimum, the same as the length of time between rent payments. However, the landlord and tenant can

    specifically agree in writing to a shorter amount of notice. You and a tenant who have a month- to-month rental agreement might agree to 10 days’ advance written notice for a change in the terms of the agreement (other than the rent). This would allow you, for example, to increase the charge for late fees or return checks or end the tenancy by giving the tenant 10 days’ advance written notice. Similarly, the tenant could end the tenancy by giving you 10 days’ advance written notice. However, the notice period agreed to by you and the tenant can never be shorter than seven days.

     

    If you have a written periodic rental agreement, special rules apply to the amount of advance notice that the landlord must give you to raise the rent.

     

    Leases

     

    A lease states the total number of months that the lease will be in effect – for example, six or 12 months. Most leases are in writing, although oral leases are legal. If the lease is for more than one year, it must be in writing.

     

    It is important to understand that, even though the lease requires the rent to be paid monthly, you are bound by the lease until it expires (for example, at the end of 12 months). This means that you must pay the rent and perform all of your obligations under the lease during the entire

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    lease period.60

     

    There are some advantages to having a lease. If you have a lease, you cannot raise the rent while the lease is in effect, unless the lease expressly allows rent increases. Also, you cannot evict you while the lease is in effect, except for reasons such as your damaging the property or failing to pay rent.

     

    A lease gives you and the tenant the security of a long-term agreement at a known rent.

     

    The disadvantage of a lease is that if the tenant ends up being undersirable, but complies with the terms of the lease you must ride out the term.

     

    TRANSLATION OF PROPOSED RENTAL AGREEMENT

     

    You and a tenant may negotiate primarily in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese or Korean for the rental, lease. In this situation, you must give the tenant a written translation of the proposed lease or rental agreement in the language used in the negotiation before the tenant signs it. This rule applies whether the negotiations are oral or in writing. The rule does not apply if the rental agreement is for one month or less.

     

    You must give the tenant the written translation of the lease or rental agreement whether or not the tenant requests it. The translation must include every term and condition in the lease or rental agreement, but may retain elements such as names, addresses, numerals, dollar amounts and dates in English. It is never sufficient for you to give the written translation of the lease or rental agreement to the tenant after the tenant has signed it.

     

    However, you are not required to give the tenant a written translation of the lease or rental agreement if all of the following are true:

     

  • The Spanish-, Chinese-, Tagalog-, Vietnamese-, or Korean-speaking tenant negotiated the rental agreement through his or her own interpreter; and

  • The tenant’s interpreter is able to speak fluently and read with full understanding English, as well as Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese or Korean

    (whichever was used in the negotiation); and

  • The interpreter is not a minor (under 18 years of age); and

  • The interpreter is not employed or made available by or through you.

     

    If you are required to provide a written translation of a lease or rental agreement in one of these languages fail to do so, the tenant can rescind (cancel) the agreement.

     


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