If I’m a month-to-month tenant and a new landlord wants me to sign a 1 year lease, what are my options ifI don’t want to sign it?

As a tenant, I moved into a rental property in 03/08. At that time I signed a 1 year lease. At the end of that year I was not asked to sign a new lease by that landlord, so I have been paying per month ever since. The rental property I reside in was bought out 4 months ago and they want me to sign a year lease. I’m planning on going to grad school in a different town in possibly less than a year and would wish to continue paying month-to-month. Do I have to sign a new lease with this new property group? What would my options (if any) be?

Asked on July 27, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It would be advisable to explain to the new landlord why you want to continue with a month to month tenancy due to attending graduate school and moving within a year renders a year lease impractical.  If you do sign a year lease, but move prior to the expiration of the term, the landlord will have to make a reasonable effort to re-rent the place.  Once the place is re-rented, you will no longer be liable for the rent for the balance of the term.  If market conditions result in the new tenant paying less rent than you are paying, you would be liable for the difference in rent for the balance of the term.

A tenancy is terminable at will by either party.  If the new landlord is inflexible and requires a year lease, you would have to be given thirty days written notice in order  for the landlord to terminate your month to month tenancy.  You also have the right to give your landlord thirty days written notice to terminate your tenancy.

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