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Is It Better to Sign an Apartment Lease for One Year or Two Years?

How to Decide Which Lease Term Is Right for You

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Think carefully before choosing your lease term

© Michael Cleary / Getty Images

After your apartment application gets approved, your landlord may offer you a choice of lease terms, such as one year or two years. In your excitement to sign the lease and settle into your new place, you may be tempted to opt for the longer term.

A longer lease term might very well be the best choice for you. But before you commit to one lease term or another, take a moment to consider the pros and cons of each:

Why Choose a One-Year Lease Term?

A one-year lease term is the most popular lease term option for apartments, and for good reason. A year is long enough to get to know whether you like an apartment enough to stay longer, and it's short enough to give you the flexibility to move after a reasonable amount of time (12 months) without having to break a lease and possibly pay a penalty. If you decide you like your apartment and you've been a good tenant, you should be able to continue living there by renewing your lease.

Why Choose a Two-Year Lease Term?

If you're confident that you'll stay in your new apartment for a while, consider signing a lease for a two-year term, if it's available. Although you'll lose the flexibility of being able to leave without breaking your lease after 12 months if things don't work out, committing to a two-year term has its benefits.

Most notably, you benefit because if your landlord wants to raise your rent at your next renewal, he'll have to wait 24 months before doing so, instead of just 12. The savings may be significant if you're in an economy where rents are expected to climb.

You also gain peace of mind because you know that you're set in your new home for at least two years. Since your landlord won't have an opportunity to choose not to renew your lease in 12 months, you can stay for 24 months (short of getting evicted for nonpayment of rent or other serious lease violations).

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