LA Rental Market - Month-to-Month normal, or strange?
March 10, 2014 10:42 PM   Subscribe

West-side LA Rental question: My first year's lease is up. I asked my property manager about renewing, and the manager told me, "oh, once your 12mo is up, you just go month-to-month, no contract." What's going on here?

I moved to LA a year ago. Everywhere else I've lived, month-to-month leases are usually considered a liability by property managers, and tenants are expected to pay significantly more for the privilege. I know that at the last Big Management Company-owned apartment I leased in Phoenix, there was about a 60% premium on top of the 12+mo lease for a month-to-month, if I had elected not to sign another long-term lease. The same was true in upstate NY when I rented there in the mid '00s.

For this reason, I am a bit skeptical. What's the deal here? It seems like it would only be advantageous for the property owner to get me off a long-term lease in order to raise the rent unexpectedly -- otherwise, having me on a lease provides more stability to them, yes? Or is this perfectly normal in this market and I'm just being paranoid?

I have it in writing that my rent is not going up at this time, and they'll give me 30 days notice before raising the rent (which seems dodgy since my current lease says 60 days notice to move out).

I know YANML, TINLA, etc. I'm mainly looking to calibrate my 'is this weird/unusual/a bad sign?' detector for the LA rental market.

(For the record: I live in a nice little complex in a pretty-nice-but-not-upscale area. The management company is relatively small -- three properties that I know about, maybe more though. I've had my rent in on time every month so far. I've had to make a few service requests, and been patient about them. To the best of my knowledge, none of my neighbors have any complaints with me.)
posted by Alterscape to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've been in L.A. for going on 14 years. Everywhere I've lived, the lease has gone month-to-month after one year. This never happened in any other city I ever lived in, but it seems to be standard here.
posted by scody at 10:43 PM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Bog standard.
posted by mrfuga0 at 10:47 PM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

This is standard in both LA and SF.
posted by samthemander at 10:48 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

19-year renter in Los Angeles, most of those month-to-month after lease expiration. Also, there's a limit to the maximum allowable yearly rent increase in LA, West Hollywood & Santa Monica, so I wouldn't worry about surprises if you're in one of those cities.
posted by univac at 10:51 PM on March 10, 2014

Very standard. Nothing to worry about, and quite convenient for those of us who like to try on living in different parts of the city.
posted by mykescipark at 10:53 PM on March 10, 2014

I'm going to just mark this resolved, then. Thanks for setting my newbie nerves at ease, LA.
posted by Alterscape at 10:57 PM on March 10, 2014

Very standard. You can request a lease, but they don't have to give you one. And you don't have to sign one. California landlord tenant law requires written notice 60days in advance to move out if they chose to terminate the month to month lease, but the law only requires 30days written notice of rent changes. If they chose to raise the rent, you can move out if you don't want to pay it. Or you can threaten to leave and negotiate a smaller raise (which I recommend doing whenever you can).

As a landlord, I preferred my tenants to be month to month in case I decided I wanted to move back into my house. If you don't think there is a risk of that, or the place going condo or whatever, it gives you more flexibility.

IANAL but I have read the California code on landlord tenant relations and I recommend you read it as well. It's got all sorts of gems you may find useful.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:14 PM on March 10, 2014

This is standard in Vancouver, BC, too, in case someone from outside CA looks this up later.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 11:30 PM on March 10, 2014

Also fairly standard in Seattle.
posted by foxfirefey at 11:44 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Standard here in Washington, DC, too.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:57 AM on March 11, 2014

Since we're going international: standard in Paris, France, though the details on timing to cancel the lease are a bit different. Tenant laws strongly favor the renter here.
posted by whatzit at 5:02 AM on March 11, 2014

This is also pretty standard in St. Louis. I've been month-to-month in my current apartment for...almost seven years. My rent is the same, and they still fix everything that needs fixing.
posted by limeonaire at 6:56 AM on March 11, 2014

It's depended on where I lived and what company was managing the property, but fixed lease---> month-to-month has been quite common in San Diego in my experience as well.
posted by LionIndex at 7:24 AM on March 11, 2014

Same in Ontario. If the renter stays on, it is assumed that all the conditions of the original lease continue as before. Sixty days notice to move out is standard.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:57 AM on March 11, 2014

Standard all over Australia as far as I know.
posted by flabdablet at 8:07 AM on March 11, 2014

there's a limit to the maximum allowable yearly rent increase in LA,

This is not entirely true, btw. City of L.A. rent control applies only to buildings from 1978 and earlier.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:53 AM on March 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

And rent control doesn't apply to pre-1978 office buildings adapted to residential use, as folks are discovering in Downtown Los Angeles when their leases end.
posted by Scram at 10:04 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

I think the place it isn't standard is NYC (correct me if I'm wrong).
posted by Rash at 10:24 AM on March 11, 2014

As mentioned, the relevant part is whether or not you're in a pre-78 building. If so, you really don't even need a lease. It would take a lot for the landlord to get rid of you and there is a limit to how much they can raise your rent.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 10:36 AM on March 11, 2014

If you have general questions about CA landlord-tenant law, this guide [pdf] from the CA department of consumer affairs is great - easy to understand and has a ton of info.
posted by insectosaurus at 11:30 AM on March 11, 2014

Standard in Sacramento and all over the Bay Area.
posted by cnc at 1:20 PM on March 11, 2014

This is the usual in British Columbia as well. Nothing unusual from what I can tell.
posted by at 7:55 PM on March 11, 2014

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