Landlordfilter: My tenants want to go day-to-day
April 25, 2014 8:05 AM   Subscribe

My tenants, who have been reasonably good, rent-on-time tenants for 4 years, are looking for a larger house for their now-larger family. I let them go month-to-month to support that; now they want to know how much less than 30 days' notice is acceptable.

They previously requested their security deposit back early to afford a new deposit, and heard "not possible" from me. Now they feel like they will miss out on places they want if they aren't able to move in immediately, and so they want to be able to give me immediate notice.

My plan is probably to list the apartment for sale once they move out, so I'm anticipating lost income at some point anyway. However, I'm long distance, so I will also have to make a fairly last-minute trip to do the turnover inspection. And, of course, I'm not made of money either.

I sympathize with the difficulty (I've been a tenant for many years myself), and it's not my goal to be a hard-ass landlord; I've actively tried to be kind when I can, and quick and communicative and all that about necessary repairs. I've been a LL for about 7 years now (ugh), so I'm not a newbie to this, and I know my rights and obey the rules I need to follow. I know I can tell them, no, I have to have a month's notice.

What is your instinct here, landlords of AskMe? I'm honestly on the fence.
posted by Dashy to Law & Government (37 answers total)
You already did them a favor by letting them go month-to-month. I don't think you owe them anything else. I say this as a Good Tenant, not as a landlord.
posted by mskyle at 8:11 AM on April 25, 2014 [31 favorites]

do NOT go day-to-day. landlording is a business, and the standard in this business is either a fixed-term lease or month-to-month. additionally, day-to-day might put you in a different class like hotel/motel, exposing you to higher taxes and different regulations. it will also create an anomaly in the sequence that a skilled tenant's lawyer (bows modestly) could exploit. you are not a charity.
posted by bruce at 8:13 AM on April 25, 2014 [11 favorites]

As someone who has only been a tenant (not a LL) I don't see a problem with sticking to your guns on the 30 day notice.

If you can rerent the place in less than 30 days, then yeah, it would be nice of you to give your ex-tenants the partial month's rent back (that way, you aren't making any extra money, or losing any extra money).

What your tenants are asking for is for you to make a donation to their moving expenses. And while it's probably reasonable for them to ask, it's totally reasonable for you to say no.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2014 [9 favorites]

As a tenant I think that 30 days notice is very reasonable and day to day is kind of crazy. It sounds like they might be a little tight financially so I can understand why they're asking but it's not really your problem.
posted by ghharr at 8:14 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just saw the part about you putting the place up for sale. Given that, you can ignore my second paragraph.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:15 AM on April 25, 2014

I think you would be okay telling them you would do everything you can to shorten the time, but the logistics of everything means you probably can't get there, inspect, fix (if necessary), and receive the keys in less than 7-10 days.

I would hedge like crazy ("depending on what's happening at my work....", "I'll do everything I can but can't make any promises...."), and remind them in writing that the law says 30 days notice is the minimum you are required to accept, but say that you will make a good-faith effort to minimize their rent should be enough.

If you want to be nice, that's what I'd do. As the others have said, you have no obligation.
posted by China Grover at 8:16 AM on April 25, 2014

Best answer: I don't think they'd agree to days notice about moving out in the event you find a new tenant who wants to move in.

So that would be my answer.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 8:17 AM on April 25, 2014 [37 favorites]

30 days is more than fair. In my current arrangement, it's 30 days based on the first of the calendar month, so if I announced on May 2 that I had to bail, I'd be on the hook until June 30.

It could be much, much worse for them.
posted by mochapickle at 8:19 AM on April 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

Holding fast to the month's notice is fine.
posted by jeather at 8:20 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

...they want to be able to give me immediate notice.

This is a ridiculous request. Just say no.
posted by jon1270 at 8:25 AM on April 25, 2014

If they don't have enough money to cover a month's rent if it turns out they need to move early on in a rent period, they can't really afford to move into the new place. That's just sort of how it goes. They either need to save up longer or be looking at new places with cheaper rent/deposits because they can't afford the places they're looking at right now. They can absolutely move immediately--they just still have to pay you for the next month's rent unless you get a tenant in before then.
posted by Sequence at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2014 [10 favorites]

I would stick to the proverbial guns. If you want to be extra nice, you can prorate their rent by some amount.
posted by thomas j wise at 8:28 AM on April 25, 2014

Their request is unreasonable in any situation other than from child to parent. Presumably these are not your children.
posted by elizardbits at 8:32 AM on April 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm a long-time tenant and have always been aggressive about asserting my rights as a tenant. But I think 30 days notice is totally fair. If you want to be generous, tell them that you'll conduct the move-out inspection and return their security deposit ASAP.
posted by ewiar at 8:33 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

30 days is fair. If they are having trouble, they simply should pay for overlap dates with the new place. If you happen to rent it earlier, you could maybe give them two weeks back, if you really wanted to do so. But paying for overlapping months is pretty standard, if they want something right away.

Since they don't have any money on hand and they are running into this situation, I wonder if they are a bit inexperienced with renting. Most landlords post rentals as soon as they come available, not the day the tenant moves out.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 8:37 AM on April 25, 2014

You know, what if you need to keep all or some of that security deposit to cover their damages? Have you been to inspect the apartment recently? How do you know they won't leave it a shit-pit or worse?

So no, you will stick to the statutes of your state and return the security deposit, minus damages, with a fill accounting of each expense, within the proscribed period of time.

That's kind of nervy if you ask me, and their money problems, aren't YOUR problem.

I've never been a landlord. And if half of what I see on People's Court is true, I never will be.

They're asking you to loan them this money. Ask yourself, is there a reason they can't borrow from their family or friends?

I guess I misinterpreted the question, but I will tag this on. It says 30 days, it means 30 days. End of story.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:40 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

As a long-time tenant (and never landlord), I agree that 30 days' notice is perfectly reasonable.

Given that it's so completely standard, I'm also not sure why they think they're going to miss out on other deals.
posted by jaguar at 8:40 AM on April 25, 2014

Now they feel like they will miss out on places they want if they aren't able to move in immediately, and so they want to be able to give me immediate notice.

This is not your problem. 30 days is totally reasonable and fair. You are on solid ground.
posted by ambrosia at 8:43 AM on April 25, 2014

Another tenant agreeing that the request is unreasonable.

Regarding the suggestions about prorating their rent if you rent the unit early, the OP isn't planning on renting the unit out again I don't think it applies. (Also, collecting double rent is against the law in California and may be in other states.)
posted by Room 641-A at 8:45 AM on April 25, 2014

I have dealt with some arsehole landlords in my life (and some good ones) I've been a tenant in a lot of places for 23 years, but I understand that they are not charities and both you and they need to remember this too. You are being more than fair. You have met them halfway but why should you have a month without income? You have already risked going without income by going month to month.

Say no.
posted by biffa at 8:49 AM on April 25, 2014

Best answer: Just a word from the legal side of things: I don't think you can actually do this. Two reasons.

First, in a periodic tenancy with a term not specified in writing, some state statutes say that the period is 30 days. In other words, without a written lease, what you may have is a month-to-month tenancy as a matter of law.

Second, you may find that you can't do a day-to-day lease because that'd turn you into a hotel, which I assume you don't have the regulatory approval to do. The difference between apartments and hotels is usually predicated at least in part on the duration of stays, i.e., a business which rents out facilities by the day is a hotel but a business that rents them out by the month (or possibly week) isn't. This would be a creature of local ordinance, possibly including zoning and/or tax ordinances, and would probably be more trouble than it's worth to verify one way or the other.

In other words: Not only do you not want to do this, but you may not be legally able to do this. If they don't want to stay month to month, they can kiss the road. We're talking about an apartment, not a motel.
posted by valkyryn at 8:49 AM on April 25, 2014 [13 favorites]

They can move out whenever they want - but they should pay rent through their 30 days' notice.
posted by Coffeemate at 8:52 AM on April 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

Landlord here (UK). You're already being quite decent to them and they are now taking the piss.
posted by epo at 9:15 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Not a landlord, but closely related to one. I agree that you should stick to month-to-month. If you can rerent the place quickly, you can prorate after they move out and after the new tenant's lease starts.

In my experience, the first month's mortgage payment is part of the closing costs, so they might not have a payment until the second month. In any case, if they don't have the savings to afford both their first mortgage payment and their last month's rent, they shouldn't be buying a house.

Also, in my experience, closing dates can change for any number of reasons. If they think that buying is like renting—sign a purchase and sale agreement and move in in a few days or a couple weeks—they may be in for a nasty shock.
posted by brianogilvie at 9:17 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

What valkyryn said, exactly.
posted by bedhead at 9:18 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

30 Days is more than fair. Day to Day is ridiculous. Getting their security deposit back early is also ridiculous.

I know it's tricky going from renting to buying or vice versa because things are so much more up in the air with buying a house...but as their current landlord, there's only so much you can do and I believe that 30 Days is fair. Have they already found a house? (It's my understanding that that process can take at least 30 days before they could move in anyway. Correct me if I'm wrong). Maybe they would be reassured if once they gave the 30 Day Notice if there was some kind of flexibility if they needed to cancel their notice? (Only ince you won't be rerenting the apartment...) And as others have mentioned you can expedite the security deposit return (but only after they move out).
posted by Shadow Boxer at 9:35 AM on April 25, 2014

30 days seems very fair to me. In my experience (both myself and friends who are renters), one often ends up paying double rent for at least a couple of weeks if not a month when moving, and that's just kind of the deal with renting. It can be annoying, but that's just kind of the's not the landlord's fault! This family's ability (or non-ability) to afford a new place is not your responsibility, and you shouldn't be expected to subsidize it.
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:48 AM on April 25, 2014

Yeah, they're being ridiculous. You can tell them that you'll be as swift as possible doing a move-out inspection and giving them back their security deposit, but that's about it. Moving sucks, and the tenant usually has to pay double-rent for a little bit of overlapping time, but that's life.

That said, I'd maybe clarify with them whether they have to give 30 days at the beginning of the month or if they can give 30 days any time in the middle of the month and just pay the pro-rated difference (i.e. if they gave notice today, they'd pay pro-rated rent through May 25).
posted by radioamy at 9:50 AM on April 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Never been a landlord or a tenant, but am a homeowner who's bought & sold before. How is it that they expect to just buy a house and move in immediately? When we sold our previous house, it took over a month to put paperwork through, run things by the bank, do the home inspection, etc etc. A month's notice shouldn't put them in danger of losing out on potential buys.
posted by LaurenIpsum at 10:01 AM on April 25, 2014

You can tell them that you'll be as swift as possible doing a move-out inspection and giving them back their security deposit

Just be careful about actually stating that you will be giving back their security deposit before you see the place after they move out. If they are expecting it back, but there is damage to the apartment, it will not be a pleasant situation for them to find out they are not getting it back and for you to have to tell them that.

30 day notice is already generous, fair, and standard. As other said, make sure you clarify whether it is 30 days from the time they tell you, and they can pay pro-rated rent for the fraction of the last month, or if it 30 days from the 1st of any month.

If you want to be even more generous to them, let them know that they will owe you 30 days rent from the time they give you the notice, HOWEVER if you or they find you new tenants and the tenants move in during the 30 days, you will refund them the days that you would be getting double rent. I believe it is a pretty common law that landlords can't collect rent for the same property from two tenants at once. So if they find someone to replace themselves, they will only need to give you money for 30 days minus the days the apartment was vacant for renovations, cleaning, new tenant lease signing, etc.
posted by at 10:06 AM on April 25, 2014

I'm a lifelong tenant, not a landlord. They're being completely unreasonable. It sounds like maybe when they started renting from you, you didn't ask for first & last along with the security deposit? So that was a great deal for them back then! Which is now being less a great deal for them at the far end of the deal, when they have to pony up the last month's rent for their last month.

That's just how it goes -- either you pay that last month up front and have a little extra cash cushion for your next bout of moving expenses, or you pay it during your last month even if you move out before that month is up.

They're also being stupid. Going day-to-day, even if it were legal, means that it's day-to-day for both of you, and that you would be within your rights to tell them to be out by end of day tomorrow, whether they had a place to go or not.
posted by current resident at 10:13 AM on April 25, 2014

I'm a lifelong tenant. I always push my landlords, I figure there is no harm in asking for stuff like this (or putting your foot down, as the case may be). I always pay my rent on time and while I generally like them personally, I don't particularly care about their profit margin or how easy I make their job. So I've definitely made huge fusses in the past when landlord's have tried to require more than 30 days notice, drag their feet on the security deposit, deduct things without keeping receipts, etc.

With that said 30 days notice is standard and switching apartments is fucking expensive, everyone knows this, and I've never heard of anyone going day-to-day. On the other hand if I were in their position (and I have done this, long ago as a broke freelancer) I've just said "Well 30 days isn't going to work for me this time, sorry, you can keep the deposit as my last month's rent and we can sort it out later if that's not good enough." I guess I could have been sued or whatever, but I always left my places spotless, the landlord pocketed the deposit, and that was the end of it.

It sounds like they are preparing to do this and trying to give you a way out so they're not like "see ya!" one day. As long as they're not assholes who leave a giant mess behind it sounds like this problem will work itself out.
posted by bradbane at 10:37 AM on April 25, 2014

To second what valkryn said, and i've posted about this kind of thing quite a lot, my parents used to be landlords at a large apartment complex for a large portion of my childhood. I've also had to challenge criminal landlords and have read a lot of the laws/ordinances front to back.

You do not want to do this because in many areas there is an actual, city or statewide legal limit on how little notice can be given that doesn't specify which party.

You could agree to this, but like me signing a contract saying i'd kill your mum any verbal or written agreement wouldn't mean shit.

So what i'm getting at, is they could give short notice and move out then EITHER party could claim notice wasn't given.

I'll leave it up to you to figure out what bullshit situations that could create, because there's a bunch. On the plus side you could force them to pay another months rent, probably, but on the downside well... yea lots of stuff. As an example if you agreed this went both ways and then you said ok i need you out in a week and they said no, they'd be able to take you to small claims/housing court if you guys have that there and you'd probably end up having to give them money.

Basically you don't want to do stuff that's against landlord tenant law. Look up your local statutes and it WILL mention this. Tell them sorry your hands are tied and it's illegal, and could expose THEM to legal risk and that you don't want to put them or yourself in a crappy situation.

And this is all ignoring the hotel stuff, which is an entire other can of worms. This is JUST talking about regular old plain jane rental stuff which i vaguely know some things about.

I know my rights and obey the rules I need to follow. I know I can tell them, no, I have to have a month's notice.

Stick to this. It's way, way too easy to get fucked over being nice to someone who likely knows the law themselves and then uses it to bone you over right after getting exactly what they wanted. This really isn't the type of thing you can be a nice guy about, since the laws exist for a reason.
posted by emptythought at 10:47 AM on April 25, 2014

It sounds as though they are extremely cash pinched and worried about covering the down payment. Anyone who's ever purchased property has empathy for the stresses of real estate purchases, especially purchases that stretch your finances. That's a problem, but it's not your problem. Your problem is following the legal requirements for a landlord.

Reread your rental contract. Assuming your contract was reviewed by a lawyer at bar in your location and follows current statutes, whatever the parties signed is what you need to follow. As a landlord, going outside the terms of your contract is going to bring you nothing but trouble.
posted by 26.2 at 11:17 AM on April 25, 2014

Look up the applicable statues, and if > 30 days indeed is not legal and pushes you into 'hotel' territory, tell them that.

If they push back, blame the rules and regulations that prevent that, and that really - your hands are tied here. If they still have issue with that, they can take it up with the lawmakers.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:56 PM on April 25, 2014

They are trying to make their problem your problem. Don't let them.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:56 AM on April 26, 2014

Response by poster: Update: I stuck to 30 days for the many good reasons here.
Better update: After the tenants moved, I sold the place in 12 days. I'm no longer a long-distance LL! Freedom!
posted by Dashy at 10:01 AM on April 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

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