Need help with your rental during COVID-19?

Updated on

What Should I Do If My Lease Expires During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

You should ask for month-to-month lease—or, if your landlord won't negotiate, stay in your rental as a holdover tenant—until it's safer to move.

With many states under shelter-in-place orders, it's far from the ideal time to move. Switching rentals means navigating apartment hunting while social distancing, strangers viewing your soon-to-be vacant rental unit, and movers coming in and out of the building. But if your lease is up soon, you'll have to make a call. If you don't want to leave in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic—but you also don't want to commit to another year in your current rental—you have two options.

Ask for a month-to-month or short-term lease

If your landlord is the understanding type, you can ask them for a shorter, fixed-term lease (three months, for instance, instead of a year) or a month-to-month lease. Considering the uncertainty of the current economic situation, there's a good chance they're not thrilled about the prospect of finding new renters right now, either. This kind of arrangement could be a win-win.

Just stay, and keep paying rent

If your landlord refuses to agree to anything shorter than a year-long lease, you may be able to just keep living in your rental even after your current lease expires. You'll become a holdover tenant. Laws about holdover tenants vary a bit between states, but in general if you keep paying rent—and your landlord accepts the payments—then you've established a new month-to-month lease agreement.

Even if your landlord won't accept your payment, they'll have to evict you—and evictions have been paused in many states due to the effects of COVID-19. And in some states (including New York), evicting a holdover tenant is actually more complicated than a regular eviction for nonpayment of rent, for instance.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.

Can’t find your question?

Have a specific question that's not answered in one of our Learn articles? Submit it here and we might be able to create a new article.