A month-to-month lease is a legally binding agreement between a landlord or a letting agency and a tenant which stipulates that any party may only terminate the lease upon issuance of a 30-day notice. What this means is that the tenant can continue to occupy the rental unit in question until such a time when either party issues a termination notice.
A month-to-month lease may be signed at the beginning of the tenancy period or at the beginning of each month to serve as an extension to the previous month’s agreement.
In Washington DC, the laws governing month-to-month rental leases are very clear; it stipulates that both parties must give written notices of their intent to terminate the month-to-month rental agreement.
Landlords must provide a valid reason for the termination of the rental agreement. On the other hand, tenants are required to issue a written 30-day notice expressing their interest to terminate the month-to-month lease.
Continue reading for more insights on the basics of month-to-month apartment leases in Washington DC.
How Does a Month-to-Month Lease Work?
In a month-to-month lease, the tenant pays rent for each month spent in a rental unit without necessarily being tied down by long-term contracts. If the tenant intends to vacate the premises, they must issue a written 30-day notice expressing their desire to terminate their tenancy.
If the landlord desires to terminate the lease agreement, they also must issue a written agreement expressing the same intent. The notice period can vary from 30 to 120 days, depending on the grounds for termination. This means the lease agreement is renewed every month unless a termination notice is served.
Benefits of a Month-to-Month Lease in DC
Month-to-month leases are particularly beneficial to individuals looking for flexibility. For instance, interns and expats may prefer this lease type as it serves their need for temporary accommodation like furnished apartments in Washington DC. For tenants, it offers more flexibility as it allows for hassle-free tenancy termination when the need arises.
Unlike in some states, landlords in DC are required to issue a 30-day notice if they should decide to increase the rent. This accords the tenant enough time to notify the landlord of their intent to terminate the agreement in case they feel undone by the increase
The Lows of Month-to-Month Leases in DC
The cons of the month-to-month lease agreement mostly affect the landlords. It is a less stable rent source, as tenants can terminate their agreement after a month of issuing a notice.
Unlike in other states, landlords in DC are required to issue a month’s notice on rent increases. This places them in a precarious position as it provides adequate time for tenants to terminate their tenancy.
There is also the uncertainty of the tenancy period and, as such, does not lend itself to long-term planning.
Month-to-Month Lease Termination Laws and Processes
The Code of the District of Columbia stipulates what is required of the tenant and landlord when terminating a lease agreement. As discussed above, the tenant is required to issue a written 30-day notice expressing their desire to terminate the lease agreement.
The notice will be invalid on the first day of the first month, at least 30 days from the date the notice was issued. In some instances, the tenant may be able to terminate the lease agreement without issuing a written notice if the landlord has grievously violated the tenancy agreement.
On the other hand, landlords need to provide a just reason for the termination of the lease agreement. They must do so by issuing a written notice to the tenant and rent administrator expressing their desire to terminate the lease agreement, whilst also explaining the reason(s) for it.
A landlord may issue a written 30-day termination notice:
- If the tenant violates an obligation of the tenancy and consequently fails to correct the violation within 30 days;
- If the tenant fails to pay rent;
- If a court determines that the tenant committed an illegal act. The tenant may face eviction if it is determined that they were aware of the illegal act.
A landlord may issue a written 90-day termination notice under the following grounds:
- The landlord requires the rental unit for use as a personal residence
- The landlord intends to sell the property
A written 120-day termination notice from the landlord is required when renovation is used as the grounds for termination of the lease agreement.
In summary, a month-to-month lease allows the tenant to occupy a rental unit for an indefinite period without the need for a long-term commitment until either party decides to terminate the contract. In this case, the lease agreement is renewed every month.
This type of lease has its fair share of pros and cons. The Code of the District of Columbia provides a guide on the responsibilities and rights of tenants and landlords in a month-to-month lease agreement. It defines the framework for tenancy and termination of the same in a month-to-month lease agreement.