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What is a Month-to-Month Residential Lease Agreement?
The month-to-month residential lease is an agreement between a landlord and a tenant for one month of residency. This type of lease is automatically renewed each month unless terminated by the landlord or tenant in accordance with state regulations. While it is not legally advised, if there is no verbal or written residential lease agreement, it is implied to operate on a month-to-month basis.
With a month-to-month lease, a framework is established that both a landlord and tenant can use when they need a bit of flexibility. Effectively, like a standard lease, one of these agreements allows for both parties to have a method of documenting their rental relationship and serves as a means of codifying a base set of rules for the rental relationship.
Month-to-Month Leases vs. Fixed-Term/Traditional Leases in Illinois
Compared to a standard rental agreement, these aren’t limited to a six-month, one-year, or two-year term; in fact, with a month-to-month, the lease automatically renews at the end of each calendar month into perpetuity. When either party, either the owner or the renter, is opting to end the rental, a lease termination letter is needed as well as a minimum notice period of 30 days based on Illinois state law 735 ILC5 5.
For this reason, this can make these agreements very advantageous for owner and renter. For example, with a landlord, this allows for him or her to renegotiate the cost of rent, free up the property for a personal move-in, or, in the case of a particularly unfavorable renter, actively begin the process of acquiring a new lessee.
For the renter, this is also very useful when a lessee is looking for an ideal housing situation, and there is a waiting period. In addition, since standard rental agreements are relatively restrictive, this is a functional “trial” rental method that a lessee can use to determine if staying on a property is viable on a long-term basis.
Writing a Month-to-Month Lease Agreement in Illinois
Despite its utility, composing a workable month-to-month lease agreement does require a scrupulous attention to detail. Remember, this is designed to provide a framework for what could be a very extended lease. Things like the maintenance of the property by both parties can be included in one of these documents as well as the rent value and information about the security deposits associated with the property. Here are a few things that might be added:
Tenant and Landlord Information
To begin creating the month-to-month lease agreement, the names of both the lessee and the lessor will need to be documented. Two blank spaces can be used for this, and if there are additional lessees, then extra spaces can be added. After this information is included, the date of the lease signing should be included.
Important Property Information
When it comes to property information, to ensure that the lease agreement is complete, the monthly rent value should be included as well as when the lease will terminate. For a month-to-month, the lease will terminate at the end of every month and will automatically renew at the first of each month. The contract needs to note that this is the case so that its status as a month-to-month lease is firmly established. Also, the address of the property needs to be included. This needs to clearly state this information, the county, and any other identifying features of the property.
With a month-to-month, the proper payment details will need to be noted. This means that some section of the lease agreement needs to clearly outline the location where the monthly rent must be paid. This is particularly important if there is a set office for a management company where the rent must be tendered. Additionally, the dollar amount of the first month’s rent can be noted here as well in addition to the amount of the security deposit.
The state of Illinois doesn’t set an upward limit on the amount of the security deposit, but it’s important to note that this usually doesn’t exceed the cost of a single month’s rent. The security deposit can be made forfeit if there’s unpaid rent, damage to the property, unpaid utility bills, or costs associated with a breach of the lease terms. Once all the information on payments is included, the lease agreement should clearly state the total amount.
There should also be a section for late charges that clearly delineates the rental due date as well as when the rent is considered late. After this is noted, a section clearly outlining the cost, per day, of late rent should be included. Finally, it’s a good idea to outline the maximum number of days in which a tenant is allowed to rectify a lease violation, which can include unpaid rent.
In Illinois, it’s a good idea to note occupant details so that there’s a record of who is renting the property. This is especially useful when there are multiple occupants staying on the premises. In the case of numerous renters, include a section that clearly names the additional lessees and sublessees. For some properties, this can consist of information on pets as well as those that aren’t officially on the lease. Finally, the maximum amount of occupants in a property should be noted here.
While not every property is pet-friendly, it’s critical to have a framework in place for those rental spaces that do allow them. As previously mentioned, the pet information should be noted, and some landlords may also want to charge a “pet fee,” which can be used to recoup the costs of any after-tenancy damages that may have been caused by an animal dwelling on the premises.
Sometimes, a landlord may sweeten the deal by offering to pay some utilities in a dwelling. This can mean that heating, electricity, or water is paid for. For the sake of records, this should be noted in the lease agreement. For simplicity, this can be a simple set of checkboxes that will demarcate which utilities are covered by the owner.
With a month-to-month lease, sometimes, the tenancy can be relatively short, and in some cases, the termination of the lease can be relatively undefined. With an abandonment clause, a framework that will allow the landlord to seek out future tenants is provided if the property becomes suddenly abandoned. For the sake of legality, this section needs to mention the precise number of days a landlord must wait before placing the property back on the market.
In the state of Illinois, it’s fairly common for adults to have a vehicle. In many cases, a property will have assigned parking spaces that tenants can use during their tenancy. For this reason, the lease should include a parking section that clearly states any assigned parking spaces and also includes details about the make and model of the tenant’s vehicle. This will prevent any accidental towing-away. For those without a car, an additional checkbox can be included to note this.
The lease should also clearly outline expectations when it comes to tenant behavior so that misunderstandings don’t occur. Here are a few things to consider adding:
- Expectations about noise: It’s important to keep tenants content, especially during the later hours, so clearly establishing rules about noise and noise violations is especially critical. To ensure that the peace is kept, the lease agreement should clearly establish quiet times. This will include noise made by music, guests, and any noise made while delivering or discarding heavy furniture.
- What stays: Sometimes, a property comes with furnishings that can include items like refrigerators, tables, and desks, or even furniture like couches. It’s essential that any lease agreement establishes what comes with the property rental and what stays when the month-to-month lessee vacates the premises.
- Garbage removal: Keeping the property in a neat and tidy condition is a way that many landlords entice future renters. For this reason, it’s instrumental for a property owner to communicate with a renter the needs to keep the area in presentable shape. This includes establishing where garbage can be properly stored on the property as well as garbage pick up times. In addition to this, general rules establishing keeping the property trash-free in common areas can also be established.
- Lead-Based Paint: If the property was built before 1978, then information about whether it has lead-based paint is mandatory. Lead-based paint is a danger to young children, pregnant women, and pets.
- Shared Meters: When a tenant is expected to pay for a utility like electric and the meter is shared, then the landlord is required by law to share the precise formula used to calculate the tenant’s cut of the cost.
- Property Access: In the state of Illinois, a landlord is not required to grant any form of notice when they intend to enter a property for any form of non-emergency reason. While it’s considered considerate to give previous notice, it isn’t strictly required. This information should be disclosed clearly in the lease agreement.
As with any legally-binding document, the parties involved must be clearly noted. In the state of Illinois, both the signature and printed name for both parties must be clearly marked at the bottom of the document. It’s a good practice to include a few extra lines in case there are additional tenants added to the lease in the future.