For the prior video in this series covering the creation of a fixed-term tenancy under a lease agreement, click here.

Creation of a periodic tenancy under a rental agreement

If the landlord finds a fixed-term tenancy too restrictive or inflexible for their requirements, a periodic tenancy

may be more suitable.

A periodic tenancy is automatically extended for equal, successive periods of time, such as a week or a month, until terminated by notice. The length of each successive period of time is determined by the interval between scheduled rental payments.

Examples of periodic payment intervals include:

  • annual rental payments, indicating a year-to-year tenancy;
  • monthly rental payments, indicating a month-to-month tenancy; and
  • weekly rental payments, indicating a week-to-week tenancy.

A periodic tenancy is intentionally created by a landlord and tenant entering into a rental agreement. A rental agreement is the agreement which sets the terms for payment of rent and conditions for possession under a periodic tenancy.

The Residential Rental Agreement published by RPI (Realty Publication, Inc.) is used by a leasing agent, property manager or landlord when renting a residential property on a month-to-month basis, to grant the tenancy and set the rent to be paid, identify who will pay which utilities, and allocate maintenance responsibilities between the landlord and tenant.

The Residential Rental Agreement:

  • sets the amount of rents to be paid;
  • identifies who will provide and pay for utilities; and
  • allocates the maintenance responsibilities and their costs between the landlord and tenant. [See RPI Form 551]

A periodic tenancy can also result due to possession under a defective lease agreement. A tenant who takes possession under an unenforceable lease agreement (e.g., oral, or unsigned) and pays rent in monthly intervals that the landlord accepts has entered into a month-to-month periodic rental agreement.

A periodic tenancy continues until terminated by a notice to vacate. This right to terminate a month-to-month tenancy by either the landlord or the tenant giving the other a notice to vacate makes a periodic tenancy flexible. [Kingston v. Colburn (1956) 139 CA2d 623; Calif. Civil Code §1946]

To terminate a periodic tenancy, the notice period is to be at least as long as the interval between scheduled rental payments, but need not exceed 30 days. A residential property exception exists: a 60-day notice is required to terminate a periodic tenancy in a dwelling if the tenant has occupied the property for more than 12 months. [CC §1946.1; see RPI Form 569-1]