Letters to the Editor • Opinion
We already know how to prevent pandemics
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Check pandemic-related renter protections in your area to see how they affect month-to-month leases

The coronavirus pandemic has caused some municipalities and states to pass temporary rules that prohibit landlords from evicting tenants. (Dreamstime)

Q: If you rent on a month-to-month basis, can the owner terminate the lease during the coronavirus pandemic? And can landlords notify the tenant they are going to terminate the lease and give them 30 days’ notice? Is this the right way to do it?

A: In a month-to-month lease, both a tenant and a landlord can give notice to the other that they elect to terminate the arrangement at any time and for any reason. Usually, the only thing the tenant or landlord needs to do is give the other at least one month’s notice. If you want to terminate the lease at the end of August, you’ll need to give notice no later than the end of July.

When either tenants or landlords want to keep an arrangement for a longer period, they sign a lease that specifies a termination date in the future. In residential leases, most landlords and tenants agree to one-year terms. If either party does not want to be tied down in the arrangement, they can elect to create a month-to-month tenancy.

New resources for tenants to learn about eviction protections

The coronavirus pandemic has caused some municipalities and states to pass temporary rules that prohibit landlords from evicting tenants and that restrict landlords from giving tenants termination notices.

If you're the tenant, you can let your landlord know that you plan to terminate your lease, give your landlord a month's notice and move out at the end of the month following the notice. But if you're a landlord, you may have a limited ability to tell tenants to move out even if they have a month-to-month lease.

Likewise, if a landlord has a federally backed mortgage, the landlord may have had the obligation to pause evictions.

There are other ongoing changes related to the pandemic that may limit some rights landlords generally have to terminate leases or evict tenants. You should talk to a real estate attorney in your area to figure out if the town, county, state or federal government rules regarding coronavirus impact your property and your lease.

Landlords and tenants may also want to visit EvictionLab.org, a website listing the changing eviction and utility shut-off moratoriums across the country because of the coronavirus pandemic. Resources include links to the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies, as well as state and local resources.

Ilyce Glink is the author of “100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask” (4th Edition). She is also the CEO of Best Money Moves, an app that employers provide to employees to measure and dial down financial stress. Samuel J. Tamkin is a Chicago-based real estate attorney. Contact Ilyce and Sam through her website, ThinkGlink.com.

Read more:

What you need to know about paying your rent or mortgage

Which states are doing a better job protecting renters from being evicted during the coronavirus pandemic

Democrats have proposed $100 billion for struggling renters. It may not be enough.