When you're looking for a rental unit, you know to look at the monthly rent. But have you thought about how much you'll owe if you move in or out during the middle of the month? Do you have to pay the full month's rent if you only live in your apartment for three days of the month?

If your landlord or host agrees to prorated rent, the short answer is no. You'll only be responsible for the days you're living in the rental, rather than for a full month's rent. The terms of prorated rent vary between different landlords, so we're here to make sure you ask the important questions.

What is Prorated Rent?

Prorated rent is rent that's calculated based on the number of days of a month a tenant stays in a rental. Basically, it's a way for landlords to fairly charge renters who don't stay in a rental property for a full month. Prorated rent is often used when a tenant moves in or out during the middle of the month.

When Do Landlords Use Prorated Rent?

Tenants can't always move in on the first day of the month or move out on the last day of the month. Sometimes, they have to enter or leave the apartment during the middle of the month.

Girl waiting to move in with piles of belongings along the sidewalk
Even if you're not moving with this much stuff, you still might have to move in mid-month. │ Photo credit: John Benson

However, rent is usually due on the first day of the month or last day of the month. One way landlords can deal with discrepancies between move-in dates and due dates is to charge monthly rent on the day of the month the tenant moves in. However, this can get a bit messy, and it makes it easy to forget when rent is due.

A better option to compensate for mid-month arrivals or departures is prorating the amount due. This allows tenants to pay partial rent based on the days occupied rather than rent for the entire month.

Some scenarios where landlords use prorated rent include:

  • Renters move in during the middle of the month.

Say your school term doesn't end until May 5 and your dream internship starts on May 23. You're not going to be able to move in on May 1, yet you have to move in before June 1. If you pick a move-in date of May 17, you'll live in the rental for 15 days in May. Prorated rent allows you to pay for 15 days of rent, rather than the full 31 days in May.

  • Tenants legally break the lease early due to situations including domestic violence or violation of health standards.

We all hope (and assume) we'll be safe and happy in our rental. However, this isn't always the case. If you have to evacuate your rental early due to health reasons such as mold sensitivities, prorated rent will prevent you from overpaying for an unexpected partial month's stay.

  • Tenant extends their stay a few days after the end of the lease.

As much as we wish we could predict the future, we can't. You might need to extend your rental period due to sickness during your move out time (boooo) or a job offer from the company you're interning with (yayyy). Whatever the case, prorated rent provides you with fair payment terms while you get ready to move out.

What are the Benefits of Prorated Rent?

I don't need to tell you that a full month's rent costs more than a partial month's rent. Prorated rent helps you save money, especially in situations when you only live in your rental for a few days of a month.

If you're looking at short-term or mid-term rentals, prorated rent is particularly useful. If you're living in an apartment for three full months and two partial months, you don't want to pay rent for five full months. Proration allows you to pay for only the days you live in your rental, potentially saving you thousands of dollars.

Burning cash money in your hand
If you overpay for rent, your money isn't going up in flames, but you're still losing it. │ Photo credit: Jp Valery

Imagine you're moving in on May 27 and moving out on September 5. If your rent is $1200 and you have to pay for the full five months, you'll end up paying $6000. But with prorated rent, you'll only have to pay for a proportion of the rent for May and September. Therefore, you'll end up paying closer to $3955. That's quite the savings!

Prorated rent also helps you avoid the high rental fees associated with daily or weekly rates. Prorated rent is just a proportional amount of your monthly rent; you won't face an upcharge for your partial month's stay.

When Do You Have to Pay Prorated Rent?

The due date of prorated rent depends on property management and whether the extra days occur at the beginning or end of your rental period.

If you're moving in towards the end of the month and the beginning of the rental period, your landlord may include your prorated rent payment with your security deposit or with your first month's rent. Or they may charge you a separate payment due at the end of the month.

Checking my calendar
Make sure to check your calendar and talk to your landlord to figure out when to pay. Photo credit: │ Eric Rothermel

You might choose to stay a few extra days at the end of your rental period and move out at the beginning of the next month. Extra days at the end of the rental period are often included with the rent for the last full month or billed to you after you move out.

It's best to talk to your landlord about when your prorated rent payment is due before you sign your lease agreement. Some landlords might be willing to discuss when payment is due, while larger real estate companies may have policies that are set in stone.

How Do You Calculate Prorated Rent?

Landlords generally calculate prorated rent in one of three ways: by the exact days in a month, by assuming all months have 30 days, or by the number of days in a year. I'll go over each of these rent calculations below.

By Exact Number of Days in a Month

To calculate by the exact number of days in a month, the first step is to look at how many days are in the partial month you will be renting. Say you're staying in your rental from August 1 - August 9, and the rental has a monthly rent of $1100.

We know that August has 31 days, so we divide the monthly rent by 31 to calculate the daily rent amount.

  • $1100 / 31 = $35.48

Next, we multiply the daily rent amount by the number of days the unit is occupied. This gives us the prorated rent amount.

  • $35.48 x 9 = $319.32

By Using 30 Days in a Month

Another way landlords calculate the prorated amount is by always using 30 days as the number of days in a month. Going back to the example above, we'd treat the calculations almost the same. But instead of using 31 days, we'd use 30 days.

First, we divide the monthly rent by 30 to calculate the daily rental rate.

  • $1100 / 30 = $36.67

Next, we multiply the daily rent by the number of days you'll be living in the unit.

  • $36.67 x 9 = $330.03

As you can see, you'll end up paying a little more with this method than if you use the exact days of the month. However, this is because August has more days than 30. If your landlord chooses to use this method for February, which has 28 days, you'll end up paying less than you would using the exact days of the month method.

By Number of Days in a Year

The final and least common way to calculate prorated rent is by the number of days in a year (365 unless it's a leap year). This is less common since rent prices can fluctuate between seasons. Let's continue with the previous example.

The first step is determining the yearly rent. Even if you don't have a year-long lease, you can calculate the annual rate by multiplying the monthly rate by 12.

  • $1100 x 12 = $13200

Now we can calculate the daily rate by dividing the annual rental rate by the number of days in a year.

  • $13200 / 365 = $36.16

Finally, we can calculate the prorated rent by multiplying the daily rate by the number of days occupied.

  • $36.16 x 9 = $325.44

Online prorated rent calculators

While these calculations are easy to do by hand, there are online calculators that can do the math for you. All you have to do is enter your monthly rent and move in/move out day, and the calculator will do the rest.

However, it's important to note what method this calculator uses, and whether or not it matches up with the method your landlord uses.

Do Landlords Have to Prorate Rent?

It's no question that prorated rent can help you save money. Unfortunately, landlords do not have to prorate rent. If you decide to move in or out during the middle of the month, you might be left paying for the whole month.

Before you sign a lease agreement or rental agreement, make sure you read the whole thing. If there is not a section about prorated rent, ask your landlord about it. When doing so, make sure to be kind and courteous, rather than demanding. After all, landlords are willing to accommodate great tenants.

As long as you're considerate, your landlord might be open to prorating your rent. This is especially true if you're in a monthly rental, and they know your move-in date and move-out date ahead of time.

Tenant confirming calendar dates with their landlord
Whether in person or by phone or email, make sure to confirm dates with your landlord. │ Photo credit: Mimi Thian

By providing them with this information before your lease term begins, rather than in the second month of your rental period, you help your landlord plan for the future. With the proper information, landlords can develop a lease agreement that contains your exact rental period, which helps them refill their unit more quickly. They're trying to make money just as much as you're trying to save money.

If you're renting through Kopa, you can always ask your host for prorated rent. Chances are, they'll be happy to provide it.

In Summary

While monthly rent is a key component of calculating how much a rental will cost, prorated rent is another part you should consider. Even if you're not planning on moving in or out in the middle of the month, make sure to investigate prorated rent. You never know when you'll need to extend your stay for a few extra days.