Most apartment leases are designed to begin on the first of the month and end on the last day of the month at the end of the lease period. This is for logical reasons because landlords and management companies—not to mention tenants—find it easier to manage the finances when all rents are due on the first of each month.
But there may be situations in which a tenant wants to move into an apartment at a midpoint in the month. And landlords may be quite happy to accommodate this wish, especially if the apartment in question is sitting empty. The landlord will be happy to collect rent for a partial month on an empty apartment if he can.
Prorating a Monthly Rent Payment
If an apartment you wish to rent will be ready before the first of the month, you and your landlord may agree to start your lease earlier. It follows that you should then owe rent for just part of that first month of occupancy. This partial portion due for the first month of the lease is known prorated rent, because it's calculated as a percentage of the normal full month's rent. It's important to note, though, that if you sign a lease to take occupancy on the first day of the month, but then decide to move in later, you have no rights to prorated rent.
A similar prorating may also be possible if you move out early at the end of the lease at the request of the landlord—such as if he has another tenant ready to sign a long-term lease and has a financial benefit to seeing you leave early. An end-of-lease prorating will probably not be possible if you simply choose to vacate early after signing a lease that goes to the end of a month. Legally, a landlord is under no obligation to give you a break from the conditions of your lease contract.
How Prorated Rent Is Calculated
There are several ways prorating can be calculated, but typically it is a matter of calculating a percentage of how many days you are occupying the apartment, then applying that percentage to the rent owed that month. If, for example, you are moving in on the 10th day of a month that has 30 days, you should owe 2/3 of that month's rent.
It gets a little more complicated if you are moving in, for example, on the 13th day of a month with 31 days, but the math principles are the same: you will occupy the apartment for percentage equal to 18/31 (about 58 percent), so should owe about 58 percent of that month's rent.
The Contractual Lease Term Is Critical
Legally, you should be entitled to pay prorated rent if you don't have the right to occupy your apartment until some day after the first of the month, so pay close attention to the lease document you sign. If you've arranged with your landlord to begin renting your apartment on October 15, for example, your lease should identify October 15 as the beginning of the lease term. If the lease identifies October 1 as the occupancy date, you're not entitled to a prorated first month's rent—even if the landlord is aware you're not moving in until later.
A landlord will likely agree to prorating and put it in the lease agreement in situations where he's filling an apartment that would not be earning him any money otherwise. If an apartment is in heavy demand and he has other renters lined up, you may need to lease for the entire month no matter when you are able to move in.