Month-to-Month Tenancy

A general tenancy where there is no written contract.  Under such tenancy, rent is paid every month. Most states require a one-month notice by the landlord to end such tenancy.

“A month-to-month tenancy may be terminated or the rent may be changed by the landlord giving a one-month notice to the tenant.”  Fields v. Conforti, 868 N.E.2d 507, 515 (Ind. App. 2007).

“A month-to-month tenancy is similar to both a tenancy at will and a fixed-term tenancy. On the one hand, it has no fixed term and is terminable at the will of either party. On the other hand, it may be assigned and the tenant may sublet.  A month-to-month tenancy also has a characteristic unlike either an at-will tenancy or a fixed-term tenancy at common law: because it is of a continuing nature, notice is required to terminate it. Specifically, a month-to-month tenant must give at least 30 days’ advance notice or, if agreed upon, no less than 7 days’ advance notice.  We observe, however, that California has altered the common law by statute. It is now the law that even a tenancy at will requires notice before termination, although it appears from the wording of the statute that notice is required only when the landlord seeks to terminate the tenancy at will. The statute is silent as to any notice requirement when the tenant wishes to terminate the relationship. The death of a tenant who holds from month to month prevents the tenant from exercising her right to continue in possession. If she has assigned her rights under the tenancy before her death, her assignee only obtains the right which the assignor herself had: the right to possess and use the premises for one month. After her death, the assignor is not able to exercise her renewal for a successive monthly period or periods. Consequently, the assignee does not receive such right to possess for successive periods. It thus appears that a month-to-month tenancy must be terminable at the pleasure of the parties; if it is not, it would never terminate, being continuous in nature. However, since a month-to-month tenant has “bought and paid for” at least one month of possession and use at the time she passes away, and the landlord would be able to recover any unpaid rent for that month from the tenant’s estate, it is only fair that the tenancy for the month in which the tenant dies should not be cut short by the tenant’s death.  We therefore hold that under section 1934, a month-to-month tenancy is terminated by notice of the tenant’s death; further, the tenancy is terminated as of the 30th day following the tenant’s last payment of rent before the tenant’s death. No further notice, for example under section 1946, is required. This preserves the tenant’s or her assignee’s right to possess the premises for the remainder of the month, the period for which the tenant has paid rent, and prevents the inequitable result of requiring the landlord to participate in a potentially indefinite lease with a tenant he never contracted with in the first place. This result is even more compelling in situations where, as here, rent control laws prevent landlords from evicting tenants except under limited circumstances.”  Miller & Desatnik Management Co. v. Bullock, 221 Cal. App. 3d Supp. 13, 18-19 (1990).

Related entries