Rent

5 things you should know about renting month to month in NYC

The notice you'll get to move out depends on the length of time you've lived in the apartment. 

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As a New York City renter, may have found yourself in a month-to-month arrangement—without the restrictions and protections of a lease. This usually happens when your lease runs out and you decide to stay on without renewing, or sometimes a landlord will agree to rent an apartment on a month-to-month basis from the very start.

Month-to-month agreements were increasingly common in the last year as landlords found themselves with empty apartments and were forced to be more flexible to fill their buildings. Attorney Justin C. Brasch says these types of arrangements exist all across the city and are often set up verbally. 

If your original term runs out and is not renewed, but the landlord continues to accept your rent payments, you are automatically considered a month-to-month tenant. Often it can be a sign of a good landlord-tenant relationship. Sarah Adler, an agent with Compass, says she sees it most commonly once a tenant has been in place for a while and both parties feel secure about going month to month. 

Typically landlords like to tie in a tenant for 12 or 15 months so they don't have to rent out a place during the quieter winter months but the pandemic turned the traditional real estate calendar on its head this past year. There are both benefits and risks to having a month-to-month arrangement. Here's what you should know.

1. You only have to give 30 days notice if you want to leave

At the beginning of the pandemic, many renters tried to break leases that had them locked into paying pricey NYC rent for many months—or even another year or two. One advantage of a month-to-month arrangement is that you can easily leave and only need to give a month's notice to your landlord. 

2. Your own notice period depends on the length of your stay

If it's the landlord who wants to take back the apartment, you’re entitled to at least 30-days notice. The longer you've lived in the place, the longer your notice period needs to be, up to 90 days. So if you’ve been living there for more than a year and less than two years, the landlord must give 60-days notice, and if you’ve been there for longer than two years, you'd have to be given 90-days notice. 

The notice is served like a court paper and must formally terminate the tenancy. If you refuse to move out, you'll be subject to the same eviction process as any other tenant who has extended the stay of their lease. Eviction is a complicated, slow, and expensive process in New York—and has been made even more so by the pandemic. Typically you would face a holdover case in order for the landlord to take possession of the apartment. 

3. Original lease terms continue to govern the tenancy

If you have continued to stay and pay rent beyond the terms of the original lease, that original document will still govern the terms of your tenancy—for example if your landlord doesn't allow pets, you can't go out and get a dog just because you no longer have lease. And that means if there's a dispute between the tenant and landlord, the lease will still function as the document used to determine the responsibility of either party. 

4. NYC housing rules remain in effect

If you are on a month-to-month basis that's been set up that way since the beginning of your tenancy, a landlord and tenant are still bound by the state and city regulations that govern rental arrangements in New York City.

The warranty of habitability still applies and outlines a landlord's responsibility to keep the apartment safe. The NYC Housing Maintenance Code, the Multiple Dwelling Law, and the provisions of the Rent Stabilization Regulations are also relevant depending on the type of place you live in. 

5. Going month to month may cost more

A month-to-month tenancy can suit some tenants but for landlords who see it as a risk, they may increase the rent to cover themselves in the event that you might leave abruptly. Without the constrains of a lease, your landlord can increase your rent at any time, although if the increase is 5 percent or more, a landlord must give at least 30-days notice. 

Like the notice to vacate, the timeframe increases depending on how long you've been in the apartment. So for a tenancy of more than a year but less than two years, it's a 60-day notice, and if the tenancy is over two years, you'd get 90-days notice. 

Of course, rents are also dependent on the market and right now tenants have the upper hand.