A Week-to-Week Rental Agreement (“tenancy at will”) is a legal contract between a landlord and tenant for renting property with a weekly pay period and no specified end date. It can be terminated with proper notice, which varies by state.
Why Use a Week-to-Week Rental Agreement?
There are several reasons why a landlord or tenant may benefit from using a Week-to-Week Rental Agreement. These reasons include:
- The Tenant is Unsure about Their Long-Term Plans – A tenant may request a week-to-week lease agreement because they are uncertain about their plans. They may be planning on moving to another area or putting a down payment on a property and do not want to be locked into a long-term rental agreement. This type of reason often arises at the end of a fixed-term lease.
- Landlord Plans on Selling the Property – The landlord may have plans to sell the rental property soon. Having a week-to-week agreement allows the landlord to continue to collect rental income while having the ability to terminate the agreement promptly when they are ready to finalize the sale of the property.
- Unable to Secure a Long-Term Tenant – The landlord may struggle to secure a long-term tenant. Signing a week-to-week lease agreement gives the landlord income while they continue to screen applicants for a fixed-term lease.
- Flexibility for Both Parties – In general, a week-to-week lease agreement gives both parties the flexibility to quickly end a lease agreement for any reason. Whatever the reason, some individuals appreciate the flexibility that is provided by having this type of short-term agreement.
- Landlords can Charge Higher Rent – Often, landlords can charge a higher rent for a week-to-week lease. While they don’t have the security of a long-term agreement, some landlords may accept this as a reasonable risk for securing higher rental income.
Landlords should have their own agreement even if their rental property is listed on a third-party website such as Airbnb or HomeAway. In addition, this agreement should be used even if you are renting out to friends or family. Having expectations in writing is a smart way to avoid misunderstandings and prevent damaging these relationships.
What to Include in a Week-to-Week Rental Agreement
A Week-to-Week Rental Agreement should include the following:
- Type of Agreement: the opening should indicate that this is a Week-to-Week Rental Agreement
- Date of the agreement
- Landlord’s name
- Landlord’s business address
- Tenant’s name
- Acknowledgment by both parties of their agreement to lease the property under the terms provided and that both parties received consideration for this agreement
- Property – This section provides the address of the property that the landlord owns and which the tenant will be renting
- Term – This section provides the start date of the week-to-week tenancy. It also provides details on the notice required for non-renewal and how it impacts rent payments and any security deposits
- Rent – This section will lay out the terms for rent payments, including the weekly amount, late rent charges, returned checks, rent increases, and how payments are applied
- Security Deposit – This section will lay out the terms of the security deposit including the amount, reasons deductions are allowed, how the security deposit will be returned, and the tenant’s forwarding address
- Use of Property – This section provides details on who is allowed to stay at the rental property, rules about guests, and allowable uses of the rental property
- Condition – The tenant acknowledges that they have examined the property and it is in good condition
- Assignment – This section will indicate whether or not subletting is allowed
- Right of Entry – This section provides details on the landlord’s right of entry, including the reasons they are allowed to enter and the amount of notice they must provide.
- Alterations and Improvements – This section informs the tenant that they are required to have written consent before making any alterations or improvements. It also discusses unauthorized alterations or improvements and what party has ownership of any changes that have been made to the rental property
- Non-Delivery of Possession – This section outlines the landlord’s responsibility in delivering the rental property to the tenant
- Hazardous Materials – This section provides hazardous materials the tenant is not allowed to have at the rental property
- Utilities – This section lists what utilities are the responsibility of the landlord. If a utility is not listed in this section, it is the responsibility of the tenant
- Maintenance, Repair, and Rules – This section provides a list of rules related to the upkeep and repair of the rental property as well as rules to prevent the tenant from disturbing other residents or neighbors
- Pets – This section outlines whether the tenant is allowed to have a pet and the specific requirements if pets are allowed
- Quiet Enjoyment – This section confirms the tenant’s basic right to enjoy the use of the rental property
- Indemnification – The tenant agrees that the landlord will not be liable for any injury or damages that are not solely the result of the negligence of the landlord
- Default – This section provides the rights and remedies for both the tenant and the landlord if there is a breach of this agreement
- Abandonment – This section discusses the landlord’s rights if the tenant abandons the rental property
- Attorneys’ Fees – The tenant will reimburse the landlord for any legal expenses that were incurred to enforce the tenant’s compliance with the lease agreement
- Compliance with Law – The tenant agrees to comply with all applicable laws
- Severability – Any invalid provisions do not impact other valid provisions in the agreement
- Binding Effect – The agreement is binding on not just the parties signing the agreement, but their heirs, successors, and legal representatives as well
- Modification – No changes to the agreement may be made unless in writing and all parties to this agreement sign it
- Notice – This section will include the addresses of the landlord and tenant(s) to send each other notices
- Parking – This section will indicate whether or not a landlord is providing parking and the specific terms including the number of parking spaces and the fee, if any
- Early Termination – Whether or not the tenant has a right to terminate a lease early along with the required notice and any fee that may be charged for early termination
- Smoking Policy – Whether smoking is prohibited or not and, if allowed, the specific locations smoking is allowed
- Disputes – Both parties agree to negotiate any disputes before taking legal action
- Retaliation – Prohibits the landlord from taking any retaliatory actions against the tenant
- Equal Housing – The landlord must provide reasonable modifications to accommodate a tenant’s mental or physical impairment
- Property Deemed Uninhabitable – Provides the tenant a right to terminate the lease if the property is uninhabitable. It also provides that tenants will be liable to the landlord for any damages and lost money that was the result of the tenant’s negligence
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – Requirement for the landlord to provide a Lead-Based Paint Disclosure if any part of the property was constructed before 1978
- Entire Agreement – The agreement and any attachments are the complete agreement. Any prior negotiations or understandings, written or oral, are null and void
- Landlord’s signature and date
- Tenants’ signatures and date
Both parties should have a signed copy of this agreement. Depending on the landlord’s rental property and the state in which the property is located, they may be required to provide specific disclosures and addendums. Besides the specific content above, here are some additional items a landlord may need or want to include with the agreement:
- Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
- Asbestos Disclosure
- Bed Bug Addendum
- Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector Addendum
- Flood Zone Disclosure
- Mold Disclosure
- Shared Utilities Disclosure
- Move In Inspection Checklist
- Move Out Checklist
It’s a good idea to have a separate cover page listing the disclosures and addendums that are part of the agreement. This will help avoid confusion as to what additional documents are part of the agreement.
Ending a Week-to-Week Lease Agreement
If you are preparing a week-to-week lease agreement, you should include the amount of notice required to terminate the lease.
Most states provide a certain number of days’ notice that must be provided before either party can terminate this type of lease. When deciding to terminate a week-to-week lease, both parties are required to comply with these timeframes. See the chart below for every state’s time requirements for sending notice before terminating this agreement.
|State||Amount of Notice|
|New Hampshire||30 days|
|New Jersey||7 days|
|New Mexico||7 days|
|New York||No statute|
|North Carolina||2 days|
|North Dakota||One week|
|Rhode Island||10 days|
|South Carolina||7 days|
|South Dakota||7 days|
|Washington D.C.||No statute|
|West Virginia||7 days|
Unless the lease agreement or state law requires a different method, the landlord should send a notice in a way that requires signature confirmation to document its receipt. This can be accomplished by certified mail. Even better, send it by restricted certified mail which requires the party receiving the notice to be the only person that can sign for it.
After all of the parties have reviewed the agreement here is what’s next:
- Sign the Agreement. Depending on a tenant’s financial history, a landlord may require a cosigner for the lease. To strengthen the validity of the agreement, a landlord may also want to have it signed in front of witnesses or even a notary.
- Keys. After all parties sign the agreement, it is time for the landlord to plan a time to hand over a set of keys to the tenant.
- Payments. The tenant must make sure that they provide the landlord with their security deposit, 1st week’s rent, and any other payments listed in the agreement.
- Move-in Day. The final thing you want to do is make sure the tenant has a smooth move-in day. While much of this information should be in the agreement make sure you are available to assist the tenant if they have any other questions or concerns.
Week-to-Week lease agreements have some advantages. While there are some benefits to this type of agreement, a landlord must be aware that they will also have to deal with certain issues. This may include:
- Uncertainty. With a week-to-week agreement, there is very little certainty about future rental income since the tenant is not locked into a long-term agreement.
- Increased Vacancies. Since tenants can end this type of agreement rather quickly, a landlord may not have enough notice to screen for a new tenant. As a result, this may lead to a rental property being vacant for a longer time than if the landlord knew the specific date on which they would need a new tenant.
- High Turnover. This type of lease arrangement will likely lead to a high turnover of tenants. Among other things, this means more time spent by the landlord cleaning and fixing the rental unit.
- Laws. In many locations, local and state laws for short-term leases are usually more strict than those for standard fixed-term leases.
In most situations, landlords are better off securing a tenant on a fixed-term lease agreement. If a landlord decides they no longer want to continue a week-to-week arrangement, the landlord must properly terminate the week-to-week agreement and begin the screening process to secure a new long-term tenant.