What Is a Periodic Tenancy?

This article provides an in-depth look at periodic tenancy agreements, which are month-to-month rental contracts that offer flexibility to both landlords and tenants. We'll cover the key rules, regulations, and typical components of these agreements, while also briefly comparing them to other tenancy options.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
June 4, 2024
What Is a Periodic Tenancy?

There are several different lease length options in the United States, and for those who want the ultimate flexibility, a periodic tenancy might be the best bet. This lease structure makes it easy to make changes or end the rental agreement without being locked into a long-term commitment.

For both landlords and tenants, we cover the rules around these flexible tenancy types and what key components should be included in the rental agreement. You'll also learn about other rental options like fixed-term and short-term so you can decide the best route for your specific situation.

With this guide, you can better understand your options to negotiate rental terms, manage the agreement smoothly, and protect your rights based on current regulations.

Understanding a periodic tenancy

A periodic tenancy, also known as a month-to-month agreement, automatically renews for set periods until either the tenant or the landlord decides to end it by providing legal notice. The tenant continues making rent payments and the lease terms remain in place until either party terminates the agreement.

Rules around periodic tenancy

The rules around periodic tenancies vary by state, but some common principles typically apply across most jurisdictions. Here's an overview of key aspects:

Notice requirements

Both landlords and tenants are required to give notice if they wish to terminate the tenancy. The length of the periodic tenancy notice required usually depends on the period of the tenancy:

  • Month-to-month: Typically requires 30 days' notice, but this can vary by state.
  • Week-to-week: Depending on the state regulations, could require notice as short as 7 to 10 days.

Rent increases

Landlords can usually increase rent in a periodic tenancy, so long as they provide proper notice. The written notice period is often the same as the notice required to terminate the tenancy. State laws may specify how and when a landlord can raise rent, especially for specific types of housing like rent-controlled apartments.

Eviction rules

Eviction processes for periodic tenancies must follow state and local regulations. Just like in a fixed-term tenancy, landlords need to provide a valid reason for eviction, such as non-payment of rent or violation of lease terms.

Lease terms

A periodic tenancy agreement still needs to comply with local laws regarding safety, habitability, and tenant rights. Any terms agreed upon at the start of the tenancy, such as restrictions on pets or subletting, continue to apply until the tenancy legally terminates.

Security deposits

The rules for security deposits like maximum amounts, how they must be held, and conditions for return are the same as in a fixed-term tenancy.

Periodic tenancy lease

Common components of a contractual periodic tenancy agreement include:

  • Parties involved: Names and contact details of the landlord and tenant.
  • Property details: Address and specific description of the rental property.
  • Rental term: Specifies the type of periodicity and the start date of the tenancy, if it's not a continuation of an existing agreement.
  • Rent details: Amount of rent, due date for each period and how the tenant should pay rent.
  • Deposit information: Details and amount of the security deposit including terms for its return.
  • Termination rules: Required notice period for termination by either party and the procedure for giving notice.
  • Rights and responsibilities: Maintenance and repair responsibilities, guidelines on property use, and any restrictions on things like pets or smoking.
  • Legal clauses: Compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws, and other legal conditions relevant to the tenancy.
  • Signatures: The landlord's and tenant's signatures to make the agreement legally binding.

Other tenancy agreement types

Other lease length types used for rental agreements are:

Fixed-term tenancy

This lease lasts a specified amount of time, typically one year, but it can be for any length agreed upon by the landlord and tenant. Both parties agree to the lease and neither party can change the terms or prematurely end the agreement without consequences. The exception is if they mutually agree to terminate the fixed-term tenancy early.

Short-term fixed tenancy

A short-term rental agreement typically applies to rentals that last a few days to a few months. These are popular choices for vacation rentals, corporate housing, or temporary housing for students.

Tenancy at will

This agreement allows the tenant to live in the property with no definite end date but can be terminated at any time by the landlord or the tenant without prior notice. This type of tenancy usually happens when a formal lease has expired, but the tenant remains on the property without signing a new lease.

Room rental tenancy

This type of tenancy is when a tenant rents a room in the same house as the landlord but does not have exclusive rights to the entire property. It can also be called an excluded tenancy.

Periodic tenancies

Periodic tenancies provide a flexible month-to-month rental option that avoids long-term lock-in for both landlords and tenants. They allow easy termination with proper notice, but they should still align with local laws and regulations. Putting everything in contract through a periodic tenancy agreement helps set expectations and prevent disputes.

Of course, periodic tenancies are just one type of rental arrangement available. Depending on your specific needs as a landlord or tenant, other options exist.

Maintaining open communication, understanding your rights and responsibilities, and complying with applicable rules paves the way for a positive renting experience. With this guide, you now know how to manage periodic tenancies and compare rental options to find the best fit!

Periodic tenancy FAQs

What are the disadvantages of a periodic tenancy?

Disadvantages of a periodic tenancy include less stability, as either party can end the tenancy with notice, potentially frequent rent changes, and uncertainty over the tenancy duration.

How long is a periodic tenancy?

A periodic tenancy lasts until either the landlord or tenant terminates it with proper notice, and it automatically renews for each period.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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