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What is a Short Term Lease?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Feb 29, 2024
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A short term lease is an agreement to rent property for a brief period of time. The term often applies to renting real estate or to subletting real estate from another renter. It may also apply to car rentals, where people either take over the lease from someone else or lease a car for a specified period of time possibly at a cheaper rate than what they’d get with day-to-day car rental.

The period of time of a short term lease varies by individual agreement. Vacation rentals might occur for a month or two most, and subletting agreements could last a little bit longer. Dates of occupancy are usually clearly defined.

Most people cannot convert a short lease into a longer one. The lease agreement determines exactly when they need to surrender a property back to its owner or primary renter. Sometimes lessees can extend vacation rentals, but usually the primary renter or owner of the property requires it back at the specified time.

There can be different contractual obligations with a short term lease. Unlike with longer rental terms, short term lessees may not have as many obligations when it comes to cleaning property. They might need to make sure things are vacuumed or dusted, but they probably won’t have to hire a carpet cleaner. On the other hand, a lease may require a deposit and any excess staining or damage to property may be the lessee’s responsibility.

Contracts should also specify contacts in cases of the property not functioning as expected and any obligations of the landlord/subletter. With any subletting arrangement, people should verify legal right for the subletter to rent the property. Subletting arrangements aren’t always legal.

Short term lease is differently defined when the item being leased is a vehicle. Two types of lease scenarios may occur. One is the “take-over lease” where someone else takes over payments on an existing car lease. As with subletting an apartment, it is very important to verify that such an arrangement is legal and fully transfers the lease and temporary ownership of the car to another individual.

In other cases, people find they need to rent a car for an extended period of time, perhaps for a month or two for a long vacation or business trip. This can become very expensive when paying car rental fees by the day. Some auto dealers and car rental companies have a short lease option for cars, which may save money under some circumstances. If need for a car exists for more than a few weeks, this might be a worthwhile option to explore.

There are other forms of the short term lease, for things like temporary office space and event locations. Renting short term is attractive for many. Property owners who are interested in getting long term tenants usually aren’t interested in renting their property over and over, but those who specifically advertise short term lease options mean they’re willing to entertain applications from people who only want to occupy a property for a short time.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
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Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGeek contributor, Tricia...
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