For some apartment renters, signing a year-long lease can feel daunting and just a bit too permanent. What happens if you don’t like the neighborhood, the commute, or if you find living arrangements you like better?

Whether you recently relocated to a new city, have a career that keeps you on the move, or are uncomfortable being tied down long-term, a short-term lease could be the perfect option.

What is a Short-Term Lease

A short-term lease is a contractual rental agreement for fewer than twelve months. A short-term lease has the same responsibilities and requirements as a year-long lease, with the same standard and reasonable terms, security deposits, fees and move-out notice procedures. It just covers a shorter period of time.

So exactly how long is a short-term lease? That’s up to you and the property manager. It could be nine months, six months, three months, or even month-to-month.

Pros and Cons of a Short-Term Lease

There are several benefits to signing a short-term lease.


  • Flexibility: The main benefit of a short-term vs. long-term lease is that you can move sooner, if you like. If you moved to a new city and don’t know the area, a short-term lease provides the chance to get to know your new neighborhood before putting down roots. Also, if you are only in town for a temporary work assignment, a short-term lease gives you maximum mobility.
  • Amenities: Apartments that offer short-term leases usually offer semi-furnished or fully-furnished options that make it easy to move in and out. They may also offer a host of community amenities you won’t likely find in temporary, corporate or extended stay housing. Think swimming pools, state-of-the-art gyms, community gardens or coworking spaces. Apartment communities are also more likely to be pet-friendly than some other temporary alternatives.
  • Adapting the terms: Signing a short-term lease lets you test out the apartment and the community. At the end of the shorter lease, you can renegotiate the terms of the contract. So if you want to update the terms of the lease or move to a different unit that wasn’t initially available, you don’t have to wait a full year to do that.
  • Easy to renew: In many cases, short-term leases renew automatically, unless the property manager is officially notified that you’re moving. In addition, if you do decide to stay you can usually sign a new contract lasting at least 12 months. 


There are a few things renters should keep in mind when considering a short-term lease.

  • Cost: Because short-term leases require more work for property managers, rent tends to be higher. However, the increase in rent is usually offset by other savings, such as guaranteed 24-hour maintenance, free use of community business centers or lounges, or an onsite gym that doesn’t cost residents a penny to use.
  • Adapting the terms: While residents on short-term leases can renegotiate the terms of a short-term lease more often, so can property managers. Rent could be raised or a decision made to not offer a renewal. 
  • Tough on credit: If you’re moving from a short-term lease in one location to a short-term lease in another,  you’ll have your credit pulled more often than most. Frequent credit pulls impact your credit score over time.

Short-Term vs. Long-Term Lease

So which is better: short term vs. long term lease? It really depends on your circumstances and what you need from your apartment. If you don’t know how long you’ll be in a place or if know you’ll need to move soon, a short-term lease may work best for you.

After all, you always have the option to sign a long-term lease once you know where and how you want to live!

Short-Term vs. Long-Term: Discover Your Options at Southern Management

Hopefully, this post has answered the questions: What is a short-term lease for apartments, and how long is a short-term lease? Now you just have to decide if a short-term lease for an apartment is right for you.

After all, finding the right short-term apartment lease to fit your needs and lifestyle can be challenging. That’s where Southern Management can help. Southern Management has a number of flexible short-term option that, allow residents to select the lease term and the apartment that’s right for them.

With over 25,000 apartments across Maryland and Virginia, Southern Management offers beautiful spaces of all sizes. Browse our apartment communities and talk to a property manager today about availability, pricing, amenities, and more.