Automatic Renewal

A lease agreement may provide for automatic renewal if the parties do not give notice to each other ending the tenancy. In that situation, the tenant who forgets to give notice must continue to live in the apartment another 12 months and give notice in the eleventh month that she is leaving. A tenant who leaves after the initial lease terminates, although it has been automatically renewed, will forfeit her security deposit. Laws in some states may prohibit automatic renewal clauses in lease agreements, but they generally are not considered unconscionable.


A tenant who continues to live on the premises after the lease period is up or after receiving a notice to vacate is "holding over." Laws refer to the extra time the tenant is living in the rental property as the "holdover tenancy."

If the holdover is with the consent of the landlord, a "periodic" or "month-to-month" tenancy is created. However, if the holdover is without the landlord's consent, the landlord can bring eviction proceedings against the holdover tenant and may be able to increase the rent up to 200 percent during the holdover period.

Once he accepts a rental payment, the landlord cannot attempt to evict the tenant for holding over, as he has consented to a periodic tenancy. But the landlord can give notice that he is terminating the tenancy in 30 days and that the tenant must leave within that period.

Sidebar: If you have sublet your apartment and the sublessee does not vacate, you are the holdover because you are the original tenant under the lease agreement.

Month-to-Month Tenancy

If the lease ends with no provision for automatic renewal, and the tenant continues to live on the property, she does so as a periodic or month-to-month tenant. Because there is no lease in effect, the tenant and landlord's duties and responsibilities to the premises and each other are covered by the laws of the state. The tenant's payment of rent every month, and the landlord's acceptance of that rent, create an agreement that the tenant has the right to occupy the premises for another month. The tenant must give the landlord 30 days notice of termination in a month-to-month lease, as that is new term of the lease. (In some jurisdictions, a commercial lease may be extended for another year.)

If you are in a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord has the right to advise you that she is not renewing your tenancy. You are required to be given 30 days notice, but you will still have to move out. Therefore, although a month-to-month tenancy gives you more flexibility, you also run the risk of being asked to move in 30 days whether you want to or not.

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