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What is Prorated Rent? (And How To Calculate It)

By: Justin Chaplin
September 17, 2019

Ideally, moving in and out of your rental fits into an exact timeline. Move-in on the first of the month, move out on the first of the month.

However, as we all know, life doesn't always bow down to calendar dates. Unforeseen circumstances may be thrown your way and may cause you to have to delay your move-in date or leave before your lease is up.

Perhaps you've found a new job opportunity in a different city or you’re taking the plunge and moving in with your significant other. Regardless of the details, renters should understand what prorated rent is, and how to calculate it. 

Why, you ask?

Well, prorated rent might just help you avoid spending money on rent when you don’t have to.

If your move-in date doesn't align with the 1st of the month, does that mean you have to pay an entire month's rent? The answer is, no, you’ll likely have an adjusted bill.

What happens when you move out before the end of the month? Should you have to pay the full month of rent? No one likes to feel as if they’re wasting money (unless you’re filthy rich) so, it's worth trying to negotiate prorated rent when you can.

Here’s everything that you need to know about prorated rent and how to calculate it.

What is Prorated Rent?

Prorated rent is an adjusted amount that you owe the landlord, based on the move-in date. Simply put: it's a partial payment that is consistent with the period of time that you're staying at the property. It's a way for landlords to charge tenants fairly.

This practice is called prorated rent because it is calculated in proportion to the number of days you occupied the space. Do know that in most cases, there's no legal obligation on the landlord's end to offer you an adjustment. Before signing a lease, it's a good idea to talk to your landlord to see if they offer adjusted rates in the event that you move in late, or move out early. If you don't have anything in writing, there is no guarantee that they will prorate your rent.

What if I Need to Move Out Early?

You shouldn't place any bets on settling a prorated rent agreement if you move out early. As early move-outs are usually your own decision, landlords may not feel obligated to adjust the amount due because you've already committed to that month. You're in a much better position to negotiate prorated rent before you've signed your name on any dotted lines.

Do Your Homework

So, if you haven't signed a lease agreement yet, but are about to do so, take your time when you're looking over the document. Sometimes, landlords will include clauses that directly specify whether or not they offer prorated rent agreements.

Even if you're moving on the first of the month, inquiring about their stance on prorating rent upon move-out will leave you one step ahead of the game. See if the landlord is open to including a clause that specifies that you will only be required to pay the prorated amount if you move out earlier in your final month than anticipated.

Your landlord isn't legally obliged to offer prorated rent — it's a practice of fairness. Not all landlords are going to be willing to do it, after all, they’re losing money. 

How to Prorate Rent - Calculations & Formulas

Landlords typically calculate the adjusted amount by using the number of days in a month or the number of days in a year. They also consider the billing date. 

Calculating prorated rent is a slightly different process when your monthly rent is due on the 12th of each month, versus the 1st.

Let's take a look at how to prorate rent using these calculators/formulas.

1. Using the Days in a Month

The simplest way of calculating your prorated rent is to divide your monthly rent payment by the number of days in that month to get a daily rate. Multiplying the number of days that you’ll be occupying the unit in the month by the daily rate will give you your prorated rent price.  

The equation looks like this:

((monthly rent payment)/(number of days in the month)) x (number of days that you’ll be living in the apartment that month) = prorated rent

For example:

Let's say that you're moving in on the 8th of April. Your monthly rent cost is  $1200. 

Your prorated rent would be calculated by dividing the monthly rent by the number of days in the month. In this case, that would be $1200/30 which equals $40. $40 is your daily rent rate. 

Subtracting 8, the number of days that you’ll occupy the home, from 30, the number of days in April, gives you 22. 

Multiply $40 by 22, the number of days that you will occupy the unit during the month results in $880, which is your prorated rent price.

2. Billing Cycles That Don't Start on the 1st of the Month

Not all landlords use billing cycles starting on the 1st of the month. If you are moving in the middle of the month, you'll have to adjust the calculation for the partial month. 

Let's say that you're moving in on January 15th, but your rent of $1200 isn't due until the 8th of February. How do you calculate the prorated amount? 

With this equation (it’s not as scary as it looks):

((monthly rent payment for month 1)/(number of days in month 1)) x (number of days that you’ll be living in the apartment in month 1) + ((monthly rent payment month 2)/(number of days in month 2)) x (number of days that you’ll be living in the apartment in month 2) = prorated rent

Start by calculating the portion of rent that covers January by dividing $1200 by 31, the number of days in January. That's $38.70, which you'll have to multiply by the remaining billable days of the month. To find this, subtract your move-in date from the total days in January and add 1. The total billable days will be 17, which you'll multiply the daily rate of $38.70 by. 

The prorated amount that covers January is $657.90.

Now let's move on to the portion of February that needs calculating.

Divide $1200 by 28, the number of days in February, to get $42.85. Now multiply the number of days in February that you’ll be occupying the unit, so February 8th. 

In this case, it’ll be 7 days (the day rent is due rolls into the new billing cycle, which is why it's not 8). 

$42.85 x 7 = $299.95.

The last step is adding the two pieces together. $657.9 + $299.95 = $957.85. This is your prorated rent amount, and how much your payment would be on February 8th, if you were to move in on January 15th. 

3. Using the Days in a Year

If you're signing a year-long lease, your landlord is more likely to use the number of days in a year to determine the prorated amount. 

Here’s the equation: 

((monthly rent payment x 12) / 365) x number of days that you’re occupying the unit in that billing cycle = prorated rent

For this method, let's still use the hypothetical scenario of an apartment that costs $1200 for a full month's rent.

By multiplying that number by 12, the number of months in a year, the total yearly rent is $14,400. 

Now, we'll divide this amount by 365, which is the number of days in a year. By this calculation, the daily cost of renting your apartment is $39.45. 

Multiply this number by the number of days you’ll be occupying the unit during the billing cycle, and voilà…  you’ve got your prorated rent!

Asking Your Landlord for Prorated Rent

While prorated rent is cost-efficient for you, it’s not the same for your landlord. If your landlord doesn't offer you prorated rent upfront, then it's up to you to make it happen.

Reach out to your landlord in writing. This is important, as it gives you a receipt of your inquiry. This may come in handy if your landlord tries to change the terms of the payment due later on. While sending a letter is a proper formality, sending an e-mail is entirely acceptable as well. Whether you decide to reach out on paper or digitally, the most important thing is to ask politely.

The Legality of Prorated Rent

No law or statute requires landlords to offer prorated rent. Therefore, approach it as if you're asking someone for a favor. Mention your excitement about renting the place. Or if you're already living there, address your satisfaction with the property. Approaching this with a friendly demeanor can do wonders. If you are condescending, aggressive, or "demand" prorated rent, your wishes may very well never come true.

Properly Timing Your Request

Timing is of the essence in this particular situation. You'll want to bring the topic of prorated rent to the table before you've signed a lease. This leaves more wiggle room to make changes and fulfill your request. If you've already agreed to the terms and signed your name, you don't have much leverage. If you’ve already signed your lease without asking about prorated rent, you may be out of luck later on when you discover a clause prohibiting it. 

Review Your Lease

Speaking of the lease, how closely have you studied the lease terms? Let's be honest, none of us enjoy reading through them—and often we don't. 

However, by not understanding what your landlord expects from you and what you can expect from them, your request for prorated rent may fall on deaf ears. Particularly if your landlord has a section dedicated to these questions in the lease. 

Even if you think your lease didn’t mention anything about prorated rent, make sure to double-check. Look for any headers that talk about notice of termination, auto-renewal, or move-in and move-out dates. While some leases contain a clear section that addressed prorated rent, sometimes the term is hidden under other sections.

Pay attention to any kind of notice period you need to give your landlord in order to be eligible for prorated rent. You don’t want to ask outside of that notice period.

Final Thoughts

Prorated rent isn't nearly as complicated as it sounds. The practice makes complete sense. It allows renters to pay for the amount of time they're using the space for.

Many landlords understand that our own lives often defy the strictness of calendar years, which is why the practice of prorated rent started in the first place.

Asking your current or future landlord about their perspective on prorated rent is a great place to start. If you don't need to spend extra money on renting a place when you're not even there, then why would you? The only thing you need to do is open the line of communication.

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