How to Rent a House With a Short-Term Lease

The residential housing market consists of two types of consumers: owners and renters. A 2009 U.S. Census Bureau survey revealed that just over 67 percent of Americans own their homes, with the remainder renting. Many people who rent can afford to buy a home, but choose not to. If you are a potential home-buyer, you may be waiting for the housing market to improve before making a purchase, or you may want to learn more about living in a particular neighborhood before you make a commitment to buy a home there. You may not wish to purchase a home at all. No matter what your reasons are for wanting a short-term lease, several options can help you reach that goal. It may take some work--including negotiating your lease terms--but securing short-term rental property is within your reach.


Focus your search strategy on the type of property you want to lease. Are you looking for an apartment? A condominium? A house? Look for the home you want rather than the terms you want. You can negotiate the lease after you find the property.

Know your market. If you know where you want to live, find out if there are many rentals properties in that neighborhood. Search online through and to find property available for rent (see Resources). This will help you locate a home and give you an idea if vacancy rates are high. You may be in a better position to negotiate favorable lease terms in a high-vacancy area.

Find your home. Once you have located a home that meets your requirements, meet with the landlord or property manager to discuss lease options. If a short-term lease is part of their initial offer, then you are ready to sign the lease agreement. If they offer only a 12-month or longer lease and you need a six-or nine-month term, you'll need to negotiate.

State your case for a short-term lease. If your research showed a high vacancy rate in the neighborhood, say so--and explain that you can rent the home immediately. If the neighborhood vacancy rate is low, offer proof that you are a good credit risk and pay your rent on time. Provide a letter of recommendation from your previous landlord. Explain why you are an ideal tenant--quiet, respectful, clean, and willing to take good care of the property. State your case firmly and politely so that the landlord will see why it would be in his interest to make an exception for you. If your terms are met, sign a lease agreement. Otherwise, keep looking.


  • Get copies of your credit report before you look for a rental property, to confirm that nothing is listed that might cause you to be considered a credit risk. Be prepared for your prospective landlord to obtain his own copy of your report--and possibly charge you a fee for it.

    Consider subletting property from a tenant who will be studying or living abroad for the short term.


  • Make sure your lease agreement includes the same amenities offered under a longer-term lease, such as water, heating, and garbage removal costs.