Leases: Is there a Difference Between Fixed-Term and Monthly Leases?

Landlord, Lease, Tenant

State law is what governs the relationship between a landlord and his tenant. To be binding, a lease and all of its terms must be in writing. One of the most important terms in any lease is how long the lease will last.

The term of the lease depends on a number of things, but generally, leases can be either for a “fixed term,” or they can be monthly.

In today’s post we will briefly take a look at both of these lease terms.

Fixed-Term Lease

A fixed-term lease is one in which the renter agrees to rent the property for a certain period of time. This can be 2 years, 1 year, 5 years—whatever term the parties agree on. However, the point is that it is for a certain or “fixed” period of time. At the end of the lease term, the lease expires (unless the parties extend it or sign a new lease).

Fixed-term leases are common for properties where the landlord wants to be certain his property is rented and wants long-time tenants.

For tenants, problems can arise with fixed-term leases when it comes to getting out of the lease.  Generally, if a tenant wants to leave before the term is up, he will still be responsible for the rent for the full lease period.  While the legal obligation is that the tenant is required to pay rent for the full term of the lease, the law typically limits as renter’s liability to  the amount of rent due for the time it takes the landlord to find a replacement tenant or for a reasonable amount of time.

Month-to-Month Leases

At the opposite end of the spectrum from fixed-term leases are month-to-month leases. These are short-term leases. Quite often a month-to-month lease comes about at the end of a short-term lease. For example, the original rental agreement for a 5-month lease might provide that at the end of the lease’s term, the agreement will continue month-to-month until either side gives notice of termination. This means that so long as neither party gives 30 days’ notice of termination of the lease, the lease will continue month-to-month on the same terms as originally agreed to.

With a month-to-month lease both the landlord and the tenant have greater flexibility. The tenant can leave after giving only 1 month’s notice without having to break a lease or risk losing his deposit. And the landlord can raise the rent or evict an unwanted tenant after giving 30 days’ notice.

The type of lease you chose, whether month-to-month or fixed-term, depends on the property and how much flexibility you want in your living situation. Neither one is better than the other, they just provide different options.

Landlord/Tenant Law in Georgia

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