Do I have to pay all of my last month's rent?
April 4, 2008 9:46 AM   Subscribe

ApartmentFilter: I am currently leasing an apartment month-to-month (continuation of a twelve-month lease which ended in August 2007) and I told my landlord today that I intend to move out around May 18 of this year. He informed me that I would have to pay for the whole month of May instead of prorating the rent because "that's the way rent's done." Is this true?

The relevant paragraph in my lease agreement is the following:
1. Rent The tenant must make the rent payment for each month on the 1st day of that month at the landlord's address as set forth above. The landlord need not notify the tenant of tenant's duty to pay the rent, and the rent must be paid in full and no deductions will be allowed from the rent. The first month's rent must be paid at the time of the signing of this Lease by the tenant. If the landlord permits the tenant to pay the rent in installments, said permission is for the tenant's convenience only and if the tenant does not pay said installments when they are due, the landlord may notify the tenant that the tenant may no longer pay the rent in installments.
Is my landlord referring to the part in italics? Do I have any rights here which can be exercised without spending the ~$200 I would end up saving as a result? The apartment is in Troy, NY. NYS RPL §232b is pretty clear about my right to move out then, but says nothing about prorating the rent.
posted by pmdboi to Law & Government (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You're on a month-to-month lease, not a day-to-day lease. Your time starts at the first of the month and ends on its last day. Unless your landlord is disposed to do you a favor there's no reason for him to prorate the rent.
posted by miss tea at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've never had to pay full month's rent when moving out mid-month. I guess it depends on what "paid in full" means: paid in full for the entire month in question or paid in full for the time you will be occupying the apartment. I think it also may have to do with how much advance notice you need to give your landlord but if it's only 30 days, I'd think you would be okay but then again, I'm no lawyer.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2008

Sounds correct by the many leases I have been in. It's a shame your landlord is being a dick as they could wave it. Officially change the date to the end of the month, turn your keys in then and take you're time moving.
posted by doorsfan at 9:50 AM on April 4, 2008

I have never received a prorated rent discount for moving out a few days early.
posted by chickaboo at 9:56 AM on April 4, 2008

I've never had to pay full month's rent when moving out mid-month.

I've never NOT had to pay the full month's rent when moving out mid-month. I've lived in, let's see, seven apartments in four states.
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:00 AM on April 4, 2008

Seconding doorsfan
posted by sailormouth at 10:03 AM on April 4, 2008

Yes, you have to pay the whole month's rent and you technically occupy the place until the end of the month. That also means that he can't move someone else in early even though he knows you are gone, unless he arranges it with you. If he tries to do this, tell him you want a refund of the days he's giving to the new renter.
posted by cabingirl at 10:05 AM on April 4, 2008

i have paid a pro-rated amount when moving out mid-month, in the los angeles area. it was based on a 30-day month, even though i moved out in a 31-day month, if i remember correctly.

i recently read another (commercial) lease that has a specific clause that specifies something similar (pro-rated, 30-day month).
posted by jimw at 10:07 AM on April 4, 2008

Huh. Sounds like my experience isn't common but I've paid pro-rated rent on several apartments when moving out mid-month AND when moving in mid-month. jimw seems to have had a similar experience and since we're both in CA (I'm in San Francisco) perhaps that explains it.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 10:23 AM on April 4, 2008

These things vary from state to state. I have rented in 3 states, and in my experience, you do pay for the whole month even if you leave early.

However, I have had a couple times where I left a week or two into a month, and paid the whole month. Then, the landlord rented out the apartment before the end of the month and mailed me a check for the pro-rated amount that the apartment was not vacant. I'm not sure if that was due to a local law, or they were just being nice, but I didn't expect it.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:33 AM on April 4, 2008

My experience (in VA and DC) is that you pay the full month, but it's yours for the full month. (Makes moving a lot easier, actually -- you can come back to get the houseplants or other too-fragile-for-the-moving-truck stuff from the old place at your leisure after you move into the new place.)

IANAL, but if NY is like the DC area, then pay the full month, and feel justified in keeping the keys until 31 May. (If the landlord wants to move someone else in prior to 31 May, then he can talk to you about pro-rating. You don't have to let him double dip on the rent at your expense.)
posted by somanyamys at 10:46 AM on April 4, 2008

IAAL, and I would say you owe for the full month. However, ask your landlord to try to get it rented by May 18, and if so, you should get the break. Win-win is a possibility. You can help by having it sparkly clean and tidy, and being very cooperative about showings.
posted by theora55 at 10:51 AM on April 4, 2008

I've almost always been permitted to pay pro-rated rent if I move out (or in) mid-month. (Three apartments in VA, five in PA.)

Nthing to change your move-out date until the end of May (or closer to the end of May, anyway.) It'll give you extra time after you move out to do that through cleaning that you'll undoubtedly need to get your deposit back.
posted by desuetude at 10:54 AM on April 4, 2008

Your landlord's right, of course. He can opt to do you a favor and not take the whole month's rent, but he certainly doesn't have to. It has nothing to do with the part in italics; it's the first sentence that applies.
The tenant must make the rent payment for each month on the 1st day of that month
Which part of that isn't clear? May is a month; the rent payment for May must be made on May 1st. You agreed to this contract when you signed the lease.
posted by ikkyu2 at 11:03 AM on April 4, 2008

posted by lockestockbarrel at 11:10 AM on April 4, 2008

Hm. I've paid pro-rated rent on moving in, but never gotten to pay it when moving out of a place, as far as I recall. As others have said, you paid for the month. But it sounds as if some landlords are nice about it.
posted by litlnemo at 11:21 AM on April 4, 2008

Yep, you're on the hook for the whole month. OTOH, maybe your landlord would offer you some consideration for moving out early, particularly if you tell him/her that since you're paying for the whole month, you'll be staying for the whole month. Depending on the market, some landlords would rather have an empty, clean apartment to show, perhaps slap a coat of paint up, etc. and receive a higher rent on the next lease than they might be able to get otherwise.

If you do the math, you should be able to figure out his cost/benefit. If your rent is $500 and you want to pay $250 and stick him with a $250 shortfall, he would need to get at least $25 more per month on the next lease to make up for the missing half month($25 x 12 = $300).
posted by Rafaelloello at 11:24 AM on April 4, 2008

You could also try to find somebody to sublet it for that part of the month, assuming your lease allows it.
posted by atomly at 11:57 AM on April 4, 2008

Thank you all for your answers. It seems the consensus is "Yes, unless your landlord's nice." I'm moving to California, so having the apartment until the end of the month won't benefit me too much because it won't make much sense to make multiple trips.

It just struck me as a little arbitrary that I could say "I want to move out on May 4" today, or say "I want to move out on May 31" on April 31, and have to pay the same amount of rent in either case. But ikkyu2's ultimately right, I suppose — it's what's in the contract.
posted by pmdboi at 12:01 PM on April 4, 2008

I bet he would cut you a deal if you could find someone to move in immediately after you move out. Or you could just sub-lease to that person (assuming you *can* sub-lease) and accomplish the same thing.
posted by meta_eli at 1:37 PM on April 4, 2008

If the landlord kicks you out early, then you have the right to prorate your rent; if you're the one leaving early than that's your problem - you've signed a contract to pay rent on a monthly basis. It's your choice to not live there on a monthly basis, and there's no legal reason why your landlord should should lose out on that money just because you've made that choice.
posted by Kololo at 2:13 PM on April 4, 2008

Ask him nicely. If that doesn't work, follow doorfan's advice
posted by jinatrix at 2:29 PM on April 4, 2008

Move out, tell landlord you will be gone by last day of month, rent the apt to someone who wants a short-term rental? The only scary bit is finding someone trustworthy who wants to rent for those two weeks and will not risk your security deposit. If you can find a suitable person, then you might be able to recoup your losses? Good luck.
posted by SassHat at 10:47 PM on April 4, 2008

In BC, if a month-to-month tenant gives notice, they are obligated to pay rent until the end of the month. However, if they advise that they are going to be out sooner, we will advertise the unit as being available earlier. If we re-rent it for say, the 15th or 20th, we charge the new tenant pro-rated rent, and rebate the outgoing tenant. Our tenancy agreements state that the tenancy ends at 1:00 p.m. on the last day of the month.

If the unit isn't re-rented early, the tenant who is leaving is still obligated to pay the entire month's rent. Sometimes this works out nicely for the landlord, as there is a week or two to do repairs or painting while the unit is vacant, so there isn't always the incentive to re-rent it early. I'm sorry.
posted by Savannah at 9:49 AM on April 5, 2008

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