Should I sign a year lease or go month-to-month?
January 7, 2017 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Please help me decide whether to sign another 1-year lease or go month-to-month on my apartment in Boston's Jamaica Plain.

I I moved to Boston last April and recently received a notice to renew my lease. I have until the end of January to decide whether to commit for another year at $1,350/month or become a tenant at will for $1,400/month, and I find myself struggling with the decision.

like it pretty well so far, but there's nothing keeping me in this city or neighborhood since I work remotely. I don't have any impending plan to move, but I like the freedom of being able to do so whenever I like.

In looking at the lease, there doesn't seem to be any provision for early termination, so I could potentially be on the hook for the whole remainder of my term if I signed for a year. However, I don't think the management company can continue to charge me once they re-rent the unit—and the building is well sought-after—so I doubt I would end up paying more than an extra month or two.

On the other hand, the extra $50 for TAW status, isn't terribly expensive. I know that another thing I give up in that scenario is the guarantee against having my tenancy terminated without cause or having the rent increased, but I'm not sure how likely that really is. It's already a great value and they're not increasing the rent for the 1-year commitment.

Right now, it seems a bit of a toss-up, but I'm leaning slightly toward the year lease. Are there other arguments for one or the other that I'm not thinking of?
posted by Cogito to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's already a great value and they're not increasing the rent for the 1-year commitment.

Since you do not have particular plans to leave and you think it unlikely you would need to eat a year's amount of rent even if you left, it might be a good idea to take the lease to give your landlord peace of mind so they don't stress about whether or not you plan to leave. That can make things easier when you need repairs or the like and may help keep your rent lower long term if you end up staying longer than you currently expect.
posted by Michele in California at 2:51 PM on January 7, 2017

We rented in Portland, Maine, from a management company. They switched our lease to month-to-month, and there was a clause that they had to give us 60 days notice for termination, while we had to only give them 30 days. I thought that was fair, and while we eventually did leave, due to neighbor noise (part of the MTM thing was that they started renting to sketchy people, which drove us out), we had no qualms with them because they kept the place up and did all of the snow plowing, etc. in a timely manner.

I personally find moving and setting up in a new place stressful. If you did have a life event where you absolutely had to break a year lease and move early, there is usually a clause that they can only charge you for the remainder of the lease if they can't find a new tenant after due diligence (but YMMV and state and local laws, etc.).

In my area, affordable rentals are difficult to find, and we are in a 1-year lease at our current location, with plans to renew this summer. The only reason we moved this last time was due to neighbor noise, which we could not work out with the landlords, as it was their relative causing the trouble, so we were told we could simply choose not to renew.

I'd go with the 1-year, as long as you're happy there, and just keep on as usual.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:23 PM on January 7, 2017

As long as you can find a new tenant to take over your lease in a month's time I would go for 1 year, but ... I would also recommend that you travel.
posted by xammerboy at 6:09 PM on January 7, 2017

Are you allowed to sublease if you sign for a full year?
posted by ananci at 11:07 PM on January 7, 2017

If you commit to a year lease, will it revert to month-to-month at the end of the year, or is it a fixed one year lease and the landlord can kick you out/jack the rent at the end of the lease?
posted by porpoise at 11:45 AM on January 8, 2017

According to my existing lease, subletting would require approval of the management company; I'm not sure it they'd be amenable to that or not.

If I commit to a year lease, I think the situation at the end would be the same as now: I'd get the option to renew or switch to month-to-month. However, there's no guarantee of that. If the management company wanted to renovate or something, they'd certainly be within their rights to kick me out or offer an entirely new agreement.
posted by Cogito at 9:30 AM on January 9, 2017

I guess if it were me, I would either take the lease and plan to stay, or start making plans to go be elsewhere before the year is up.

And I think most people are like that. Most people would not pay an extra $50/month merely to keep their options open, with zero concrete plans to use that option within a year (unless they had some compelling reason).

So, if you do not sign the lease, the landlord will probably assume you are planning to leave, and this can have consequences without you realizing it. For example, whether they have locked in leases can impact a decision to sell the property.

Landlords are people too. Some of them will stress like crazy about you being month to month and them thinking you are making plans to leave.

Also, you being all "meh, I don't care that much about the extra $50" can make them go "Oh, I can jack up the rent without them leaving." Because they are people too and may be not raising your rent because they strongly want you to sign that lease for some reason. Business people can live in fear of losing customers or having different, more difficult customers or whatever.

Since it is a toss up for you personally, if it were me, I would be wondering how this decision might impact future interactions with the landlord. And my assumption is that taking the lease is the thing the landlord desires you to do, which is why they aren't increasing your rent if you take the lease.

So I see taking the lease as a means to butter up the landlord that apparently is not any kind of serious obstacle to you leaving earlier should the road call.
posted by Michele in California at 3:22 PM on January 9, 2017

I decided to renew for the year. Thanks for you input, everyone!
posted by Cogito at 11:57 AM on January 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

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