Is Apartment Rent Month to Month?

When you rent an apartment, it means that you enter into a legal arrangement with the owner of the property to live in the space for an agreed-upon fee. This fee is what is referred to as rent. So how often do you have to pay rent?

Is apartment rent month to month? A majority of leases and rental agreements require tenants to pay rent on a monthly basis. However, landlords and property managers are usually legally free to set up a different payment structure, which means that they can choose to charge rent on a weekly or even bi-monthly basis. Charging rent on a monthly basis is generally preferred simply because it’s how most tenants are used to paying rent, plus most utility services are also charged monthly. 

Sometimes you may find single-let properties being advertised with a weekly rate even though the rent is charged monthly. Weekly rent payments are more commonplace with HMO (houses in multiple occupations) tenants or in situations where rent arrears is an issue. All in all, the tenancy agreement should clearly specify how much rent the tenant is required to pay and how frequently.

If you live in a rented apartment, you can expect to pay a specified amount to the landlord or property management on a regular basis. For most tenants, this is usually on a month to month basis, but this may not always be the case.

When is rent usually due?

A common belief among tenants is that they have a legal grace period when it comes to rent payment. If the rent is due on the 1st for example, they believe they have a couple of days after the set date to pay. However, this is not the case; rent is legally due on the date that has been specified in your rental agreement, which should also clearly spell out when and how to pay it. 

Most leases and rental agreements require tenants to pay rent monthly, in advance, on the first day of each month. That said, it is entirely up to the landlord to establish a payment date. This means that they can set a different monthly payment date, or even require that you pay rent weekly or bimonthly. 

Some landlords will require the tenant pay rent each month on the date that they first moved in. However, most landlords find it more manageable to prorate rent for a short first month and then proceed to collect rent on the first of each month. It’s entirely up to the landlord to set up a rental payment plan, but you may be able to negotiate if you prefer a different rent due date.

What if the due date is on a weekend or legal holiday?

According to most lease and rental agreements, when the rent due date falls on a legal holiday or weekend, you can pay rent by the next business day. This is a legally required practice in some states and is a general practice in most.

How should you pay the rent?

In most cases, your lease or rental agreement should specify where you should pay the rent and how it should be paid. The most common method of paying rent is mailing the rent check to the address that your landlord provides, or to an off-site office (if there’s one). If you have to mail your rent check, it’s important to ensure that it arrives on the due date. 

Why is charging rent on a monthly basis more common?

Most landlords prefer to charge rent on a monthly basis for the following reasons:

  • It’s the most common practice. Most tenants have become used to paying rent month to month, which is why most landlords simply prefer this payment structure.
  • Most other services (phone bills, utility bills, etc.) charge monthly.
  • Most people get paid monthly, making it easier for them to budget rent if they have to pay it once a month.
  • It can be quite a lot of work for a landlord to keep track of weekly rent. It’s simply much easier if a tenant pays once a month.

Can you charge rent on a weekly basis?

It’s not against the law for a landlord to charge rent on a weekly basis. Some instances where this practice may be prevalent include:

1. HMOs/ room lets

Charging rent weekly is not uncommon with HMO tenants, or other circumstances where a single room is being let. This is a common practice with such properties because the tenant turnover rate tends to be generally higher. This rent payment setup is especially likely when a landlord is prepared to accept a notice period of less than one month from a tenant.

2. Rent arrears

Some landlords and tenants may agree to strategically switch to a weekly payment plan when rent arrears is an issue to help make payments more manageable.

3. Short-term lets

Short-term living arrangements such as Airbnb and holiday apartments calculate rent differently, so you may pay a weekly or even daily rate. 

How is monthly rent calculated from a weekly rate?

Sometimes landlords may advertise single-let rooms and properties with a weekly rate even though they intend to charge rent monthly. There is no particular reason why they do this; perhaps it’s a psychological ploy to make applicants think units are cheaper than they are

If the rent of a unit you’re interested in is advertised with a weekly rate (regardless of whether you’ll be require to pay weekly or monthly), and you want to work out what you’ll be paying monthly, avoid multiplying the weekly rate by four (as in four weeks in a month), because the resulting amount will be incorrect. 

Instead, use the following formula: Weekly rent x 52 (number of weeks in a year) / 12 (number of months in a year). So if a rental unit is advertised with a weekly rate of $90, you can expect to pay $390 per month. Similarly, if the weekly rate is $105 per week, you’ll be paying $455 per month.

What happens if you’re unable to pay your rent on time?

Rent is one of the largest expenses for most people. Regardless of whether you pay rent weekly, bimonthly, or monthly, it’s not unheard of to miss a rent payment. When this happens, you’re in “arrears”. It’s important to talk to your landlord right away if you’re unable to pay your rent. It may help to pay what you can and ask your landlord to give you more time.

You landlord can legally start the eviction process straight away if you’re late to make your rent payment and any of the following have happened:

  • You’ve been late with the rent before
  • You’re already in arrears with the rent 
  • The fixed term period of your tenancy has come to an end (that’s if your tenancy is an assured shorthold tenancy)

In these cases, the court is likely to grant your landlord a “possession order” quickly and you’ll be required to vacate the property within 14 days.

What are the rules for terminating a tenancy?

States have specific rules when it comes to terminations and evictions. Typically, a landlord is at liberty to send a non-rent-paying tenant a termination notice for nonpayment of rent giving the tenant a few days in which they must pay up or move. These are commonly referred to as pay rent or quit notices. If a tenant fails to pay or move within the allocated time limit, the landlord has the right to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant. The rules for evicting a non paying tenant vary widely from one state to another, including:

When you may serve a pay rent or quit notice?

In most states, a landlord can send a pay rent or quit notice the first day the rent is late. Since most lease and rental agreements require rent to be paid by the first of the month, this is usually the second of the month (although a tenant may be allowed extra time if the payday falls on a holiday or weekend). Some states may allow a grace period for tenants during which a landlord cannot send the notice.

How you are required to serve the notice to the tenant?

In some states, a landlord is required to serve the notice in person; most states allow mailing.

  • The duration of time a tenant has to pay the rent before a landlord can terminate the tenancy.

Most states require that landlords give tenants three to five days to pay up or risk facing a termination or eviction notice. If the tenant pays the arrears (including any late fees), the tenant does not have to move.

On the other hand, some states don’t have this “grace period”. A landlord can ask that a tenant who fails to pay the rent on time – even a first-time offender – move out, by serving the tenant an unconditional quit notice. This type of notice requires the tenant to move out without the option to pay the rent, and failure to comply means that the landlord can then file an eviction lawsuit.

  • When the tenant is late paying rent on more than one occasion

If a tenant fails to pay rent on time more than once within a specified number of months, they might face immediate termination (an unconditional quit notice).

What are your options when you can’t make the rent?

If you’re unable to pay rent on time or in full for one reason or the other, consider the following advice:

1. Negotiate a partial or delayed rent payment

To avoid a potential eviction lawsuit, consider being upfront with your landlord about the situation and ask for an extension. If you have been a good and reliable tenant, you may just be able to come to an agreement as the process of eviction is often difficult and expensive. This means that you may be able to get your landlord to accept a partial rent with the guarantee that you’ll pay the rest on an agreed-upon date. Here are some basic tips on how you can go about such a negotiation:

  • Write a letter to your landlord as far in advance as possible requesting a couple of extra days.
  • Explain your hardships and provide reassurance that they are only temporary
  • Offer (if possible) to pay at least part of the rent on the required date.
  • Give your landlord written assurance of the plan you have in place to pay the full rent, and make sure to do as promised.
  • Let the landlord know that you plan to pay your rent on time in the future
  • If the landlord has a late fee policy, be prepared to pay the specified amount in addition to the rent. 

2. Ask your landlord if you can spread the owed amount across future rent payments

This could be an easier option than having to pay the full rent at once. Your landlord may not agree, but they might be open to negotiating further with you rather than go through the eviction process. With this repayment plan, you’ll probably have to commit to paying a regular amount each month or week on top of your usual rent payments. 

3. Never send a check that will bounce

If you know that a check is going to bounce, it’s best not to send it to your landlord – a worthless check (or an unsigned one) is just as bad as not paying rent at all. If there is a late fee policy, it will still be in effect regardless of the bounced check, and you can also be evicted if the landlord chooses. Additionally, your landlord can charge you for a bounced check.

4. Don’t ignore the situation

If you fail to pay your rent on time, it can be tempting to hope that your landlord won’t notice. It’s  good practice to confront the issue straight away as it’s highly likely that your landlord is counting on your check to come on time to cover his/her own mortgage payment.

Final thoughts

When you’ve found a property to rent, you can expect to make regular payments to the landlord/property owner in order to keep living there. This may be on a weekly, bimonthly, or monthly basis. If you fall behind on your rent payments, you risk being evicted from the property. You may be able to work out an arrangement with your landlord that allows you to spread out payments or pay it in portions, but this will depend on your situation.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author, and she enjoys traveling, reading, and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC.

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