Pros and Cons: Signing a Multi-Year Lease

In our Pros and Cons series, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of important decisions that apartment dwellers are making every day.

When you sign a lease for your new apartment, chances are that you’ll sign a one-year lease, with the ability to renew your lease every 12 months. However, you might also have the option to sign a longer multi-year lease. As the name suggests, a multi-year lease obliges tenants to stay in their apartment rentals for longer than a year. The length of commitment involved in a multi-year lease – often 24 months, but sometimes 18 months – may work better for certain renters. 

multi-year lease

Is a multi-year lease right for you? Weigh the pros and cons below to help with your decision.

Pros of signing a multi-year lease

Rent stability

If you want to re-sign your one-year lease to keep living in your apartment, then some landlords might raise your rent for the next year’s lease. (This changes by jurisdiction; not all cities and states allow landlords to raise rent after the first year.) When you sign a multi-year lease, you lock in a rent amount for a time period longer than a year, which may prove better for your budget in the long run.

Cheaper rent

In some cases, landlords looking to find trustworthy tenants for longer periods of time will sign leases for lower rent prices to lure in good tenants who might otherwise look elsewhere. That’s why, when you sign a multi-year lease, your monthly rent might be much less expensive than with a one-year lease.

Location stability

Even if you’re happy in your apartment, when your one-year lease ends, you might find yourself at least toying with the possibility of moving. When you sign a multi-year lease, you can immediately nip that temptation in the bud. If you’re the kind of person who finds yourself moving more often than you’d like, then signing a multi-year lease on an apartment that meets all your standards can ensure the location stability you’ve been missing.

Cons of signing a multi-year lease

Too much commitment

You might find that a one-year lease gives you more flexibility if you’re unsatisfied with your apartment. If the best apartment you find during your hunt is still not quite up to your standards, then if things don’t work out at the end of your one-year lease, you can just look again and potentially find an apartment that’s better for you. When you sign a multi-year lease, you don’t have this flexibility, so if you discover a dream apartment only to move in and find it deeply flawed, then you’re stuck there for much longer than you’d like.

Risky if your finances change

If you don’t think you’re particularly picky about apartments, keep in mind that the commitment of a multi-year lease can be stressful for more reasons than just your preferences. If your financial situation suddenly changes and you can no longer afford your rent, with a multi-year lease, you’re far more bound to your apartment than with a one-year lease. 

Breaking your lease is never easy (and rarely encouraged), but with a single-year lease, you may be able to try riding out the remainder of your lease if money gets tight. This prospect is far less realistic with a multi-year lease, and often, the penalties for breaking your multi-year lease are harsher than with a one-year lease. When you’re signing a multi-year lease, thoroughly read the consequences for breaking your lease before you sign it.

Would you rather sign a one-year lease or a multi-year lease? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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