a consumer if filling out a rental agreement

Rental Agreements and Leases

Differences between month-to-month rental agreements and leases. One offers more flexibility, the other limits rent increases.

Rental Agreements and Leases

There are two types of rental agreements:

  • A month-to-month agreement
  • A lease

Agreements that are over a year should be in writing to be enforceable in court. Agreements that are a year or less can be verbal or written.


A month-to-month agreement is a 30-day contract. Each time you pay rent, you renew the contract for another 30 days.

Raising rent on month-to-month agreements

Before raising your rent 10% or less, your landlord has to give you a 30-day-notice. If the rent increase is more than 10%, the landlord must give you a 90-day notice. Some rent-stabilization laws limit a landlord’s right to raise rents or evict you.

Ending a month-to-month agreement – Tenant

You can end a month-to-month agreement and move out by giving your landlord a 30-day written notice.

Ending a month-to-month agreement – Landlord

  • A 30-day notice is required if the tenant has lived there less than a year.
  • A 60-day notice is required if the tenant has lived there a year or longer.
  • A 90-day notice is required if the tenant is under Section 8.

If you’re selling the house, townhouse or condo, only a 30-day notice is required, if all of the following apply:

  1. You have opened escrow with a licensed agent.
  2. It has not been 120 days since you opened escrow.
  3. You have not previously given the tenant a 30- or 60-day notice.

Tenants in a foreclosure

If the property goes into foreclosure, or the landlord goes bankrupt, your lease may be terminated.


With a written lease agreement, the terms of the lease and the monthly rent are fixed for the time period specified in the agreement, usually six months or one year.

As long as you follow the terms, a lease agreement prevents the landlord from raising the rent or asking you to move until the lease expires. Note: if the property goes into foreclosure, or the landlord goes bankrupt, your lease may be terminated.

When your lease ends

When your lease expires, you can:

  • Move out.
  • Try to renew the lease for another term, or,
  • Stay and pay rent on a month-to-month basis.

My lease has an automatic renewal provision

Some leases contain an “Automatic Renewal Provision.” This means that the lease will automatically renew itself for another term unless you notify the landlord that you do not wish to renew it. If there is an automatic renewal provision in your lease, it has to be printed in at least 8-point boldface type directly above your signature.

Moving out before your lease is finished

If you want to move before your lease is over, notify your landlord as soon as possible so he can try to rent the unit to someone else.  You may have to pay rent for the time it is vacant until your lease expires.  You may also have to pay the landlord’s costs for finding a new tenant.  Try to negotiate the terms and conditions of breaking your lease with your landlord.

You should read your lease to see if it allows you to sublet the rental unit. Subletting means that you rent the unit to someone else. If the lease allows you to do this, you can look for another tenant to take over your lease.

If the landlord sells the rental unit

If the landlord sells the rental unit, your lease continues with the new buyer. You have the same rights and responsibilities you had with the old landlord.

Civil Code 1945.5

County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: Nov. 6, 2019

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