Telling landlord we're looking elsewhere, but holding onto our place?
August 18, 2014 7:23 PM   Subscribe

I have rented my current place for over a year and according to our lease, am now month to month. I want to look elsewhere, and tell my (very chill) landlord in case I want to put him as a reference. But in the end I'm not sure if/when I'll move (only if a better place materializes) so I also don't want him to decide to find new tenants and give me 30 days notice. How would you deal with the landlord?

For example, I'm looking at a place right now and they want an application with current landlord's info. I want to obviously let my landlord know before I'd list him anywhere, but also am not 100% sure about this place and don't want to spill the beans to landlord before I have to just in case he reacts badly (not that that his past behavior would suggest this in any way). I may end up not moving at all and I just keep thinking what a nightmare it would be if he decided to find tenants and give me the boot before I am sure I want to leave. (Either party can terminate with 30 days notice.) Obviously, I have to tell him at some point before I'm 100% sure I'm moving, so do I just need to suck it up and accept the risk?
posted by dahliachewswell to Home & Garden (18 answers total)
P.S.- I'd considering moving sometime within the next 6 months, or possibly further out. But if something pops up sooner than later I want to be able to pursue it.
posted by dahliachewswell at 7:25 PM on August 18, 2014

Just to clarify: do you have any old landlords who you are/were on good terms with whom you could use as a reference, or is your current landlord the only viable option?
posted by ClaireBear at 7:36 PM on August 18, 2014

Why don't you ask your current landlord for a new, shorter lease? Say 3-6 months?
posted by sevensnowflakes at 7:41 PM on August 18, 2014

The rental market is tougher in the winter. But if your landlord wanted you on another year lease he would have made you sign one.
I'd just let him know. If you're are good tenants there is no reason to serve a 30 day and it is expensive to file for an eviction if don't move out on time and it would be easier for him to take rent.

Ask how much notice he wants on a place if you decide. Most places want 30 days notice if not more. So anything your looking at now needs to be available for Oct. 1st at this point.
posted by AlexiaSky at 7:52 PM on August 18, 2014

Some landlords won't release a reference unless you've given notice first. Ask your landlord if that's his policy.
posted by vespabelle at 8:06 PM on August 18, 2014

How would you deal with the landlord?

I would not use him as a reference, and give him 30 days' notice when I had already secured a place and was moving out.
posted by jaguar at 8:08 PM on August 18, 2014 [10 favorites]

If your landlord isn't crazy, it's not that big a deal. A little extra warning isn't horrible for planning to do make-ready and turn the place over.

We did this when we moved, and we just let him know that we were moving (it made it a little easier that it was out of town, but whatever) soon but hadn't found a place yet but needed to use him as a reference, and in return we'd give him 30+change notice as soon as we were locked in. So we ended up giving him about 6 weeks, and ended up saying "hey, the house is empty, do your thing" when we were done 5 days before the end of our last paid-up month.

You paying rent is always preferable to makeready and turnover, so he'll likely be happy to have you for however long that turns out to be.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2014

To answer a couple things: I'm on good terms with all previous landlords, but two years back run into a two year gap where we were abroad renting from people who don't use email/call internationally/speak english (small town, developing country). So it would be preferable to use this landlord. (Though advice to find a workaround and not using him is good food for thought, thank you)

I don't want a short term lease because I want to be able to move anytime within the next 6 months (with 30 days of notice.)
posted by dahliachewswell at 8:29 PM on August 18, 2014

As others have said, you're a known quantity, and he has no particular reason to gamble on someone new as long as you're writing checks. Anyway, if he did have someone he felt that good about, he wouldn't necessarily be taking into account whether you wanted to leave or not, and there's nothing you can do about that. If right now there's nothing on the market worth your while, you might as well wait until things pick up to let him know what you're thinking, but since he hasn't given you any reason to think he'd be hostile, I wouldn't expect anything worse than a monthly e-mail asking for updates to come of it.
posted by teremala at 8:57 PM on August 18, 2014

"Hi Landlord, I'm starting to think about possibly moving somewhere [closer to work/near a giant dog park/closer to my favourite ice cream shop/whatever]. I'm only just starting to have a look around for places now, so I'm not sure what kind of timeline I'm looking at or whether I'll find somewhere suitable in the near future. If I find anything suitable, would I be able to put you down to be a reference? Obviously I would love to keep living here in the meantime. I will make sure I keep you informed, so that if I find a place I can give you appropriate notice. Thanks!"
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:43 PM on August 18, 2014 [6 favorites]

As a landlord I'd much prefer to get something along the lines kinddieserzeit suggests. It would help me be prepped for the change, and would motivate me to give you a good reference.

Maybe irrelevant to you but here in California when you've been renting for over a year the landlord has to give 60 days notice, while the tenant only has to give 30.
posted by anadem at 10:01 PM on August 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

If I were your landlord, I'd appreciate knowing you were planning to leave, and would give a reference. But I'd still want you to give notice 30 days ahead of time, as the law in my area specifies.
posted by wryly at 10:57 PM on August 18, 2014

I would think that your landlord would appreciate being given the extra notice! As long as you've been a good tenant and you've paid rent on time, he has no reason to be vindictive. If you're cool with it, the extra notice may even give him a chance to prep the place for future tenants without having to take time off from renting it. Win/win! And yes, you still need to give the 30 days notice and all, but otherwise go for it!
posted by Ostara at 11:14 PM on August 18, 2014

Take a look around your place, is there anything that will need to be fixed or replaced that he should know about? What's the condition of the walls? etc..

When you go to ask him to be a reference, show him that you are as serious about helping him get the place ready for the next paying tenant as you would like him to be in helping you find a nice new place to live (as a reference). Tell him your schedule, be available to have stuff fixed or replaced. Invite him over for a walk-through to assess. Double-check your lease to see how many days of notice you agreed to give him and make him aware that you intend to do just that.
posted by Th!nk at 11:29 PM on August 18, 2014

Why fill out an application if you're not sure if you want the place? As others have said, I don't think you need to worry about your landlord freaking out assuming you agree to give at least a month's notice, but I don't know why you would go to the trouble of applying for places you're not actively interested in (and potentially adding to the evaluation workload of new landlord/ staff).
posted by metasarah at 2:34 AM on August 19, 2014

Why fill out an application if you're not sure if you want the place?

Totally agree with this, unless you're in a very competitive rental market and think you might have to apply for several places before getting something. Unless you really, really like something and want to move there, don't apply. In the cities I've lived, at least, places aren't advertised very far in advance anyway, so you'd have to give notice as you're applying anyway if you want to avoid paying much extra rent on two places...
posted by three_red_balloons at 6:31 AM on August 19, 2014

As a landlord, my tenant did this. He told us that he wanted to stay month to month for x reason and he was looking to move in the next 0 to 6 months. Honestly, finding a new tenant is work and risk, and there is always potential for drama if trying to kick out a tenant who wants to stay. Basically, it's almost never worth it to kick out an existing well paying tenant, except if you want to rent the place out during high season. And I liked him. So I just let him give me notice of when he wanted to move. If I did want him to move sooner or renew the lease, I would've given him a 10% rent increase for staying month to month (with that discounted if he signs another year long lease).

But landlording is a side thing for me, and we're pretty laid back about it. I imagine that ultimately, it really depends on your landlord.
posted by ethidda at 8:04 AM on August 19, 2014

My concern would be not that the landlord would kick me out, but that they'd stop caring about fixing things that broke, making minor repairs, etc. because it'd be easier to wait until the place was empty and deal with it all at once.
posted by jaguar at 9:43 AM on August 19, 2014

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