Tenant Moving Out Early and Requesting Pro-Rated Rent

14 Replies

Hello,

After several months of telling me they were likely to move in a month (they went from a 1 year lease to month-to-month as they were trying to purchase a home), my tenants are moving. I found out because I contacted them regarding the rent being late, and was told, oh, by the way, we are moving at the end of this month. They paid the rent, so no issues there. Now, tenant is asking if I will prorate the rent and issue a refund if they move out by the 15th (note, it is the 12th, and they literally asked me this question via text 10 minutes ago). I feel like I want to make them pay the whole month just for my troubles (they paid late constantly and I always had to remind them). What would you advise doing in this case? I wouldn't mind them moving earlier because I can get ready for a new tenant quicker, but it's also not like they are doing me a favor, per se. Any advice welcome.

Thanks,

Karen.

Well based on what you've said I'd let them pay for the entire month. I've never done month to month so I don't have any actual experience with this but it seems as if they're trying to take advantage of you.

I thought this through some more and decided to tell the tenant it's not an option. The sudden decision to move earlier is honestly not my issue and I'm not obligated to make things easier for them. I think they may be asking because we've had a pretty good rapport, but at the end of the day it's business and I have to treat it as such.

And then you laughed and laughed and laughed

Because that is something they should have discussed with you before.

They also should have been paying on time.

In month-to-month, the tenant is to provide 30-days notice prior to the month they intend to leave ... so technically they would owe you for March as well.  Here notice must be given in writing (SMS will not stand-up in court .... yet).

That said, I would not plan on charging them for March, but would point out the fact they gave insufficient notice when the next ask for pro-rated rent.

Am I understanding correctly? The tenant is current on the rent, including the current month. They want to move early and you "wouldn't mind them moving earlier because I can get ready for a new tenant quicker". So even though them moving earlier would be easier for you, you wish to punish them for their transgressions. Tell me, would the transition be even easier if the tenant left the property in broom clean condition? Would it be easier if they let you post a sign in the yard and show the property to a prospective tenant before they moved out? What if you made the rent refund contingent upon those things? I presume you still hold a security deposit so you could still punish them if you'd like but what if you didn't and left on good terms? They just might know someone who would like to move into this house and would like a relationship with a good landlord. Wouldn't that be easy?

@Karen Johnson  

 I think what you are doing is a good medium, like @Roy N.  they are supposed to give you 30 days notice prior.  If it were me I would be fine with them leaving at the end of the month and giving me notice today.  This still lets me have enough time to get new tenants in before I have any vacancy.  It is not ok for them to tell you today and ask for a prorate if they move out on the 15th because that doesnt give you enough time to find a tenant and you end up with a vacancy and losing money.  So you are not punishing them, you are meeting them halfway.  Punishing them would be holding them to the contract and requiring them to pay for part of March (which you could then prorate for March 12).  

@Jeff Rabinowitz  

You are absolutely correct ... though in my jaded experience, a tenant who tells you on the 12th that they plan to move out on the 15th, is not likely to actually be out and have the place "broom clean" by the 15th.

How much notice does your lease require? I would follow your lease to the fullest extent! Leave emotion out, but you are not required to give favors either!

The only times I have bent over backwards it has bit me either. So follow your lease, require the 30 days and start filling your lease.

Dont prorate it for this month. The 30 days notice is so you can market the property and find a tenant. They didn't even give 30 days. Most apartments require 30 days and that doesn't begin until the 1st of the month. They are asking for something thats not acceptable.

It's really not about punishing them (although my first post may have made it seem that way). I think that in all likelihood they will not move on the 15th regardless of what courtesy I do or do not extend them, and I prefer not to muddy the waters further with discussions about rebates. They have been "moving next month" since last July, and suddenly are planning to be out in 3 days. I do feel I've been very flexible in not giving them any angst for telling me (only when I inquired about their late rent) that they were planning to move out at the end of the month, given that I require at least 30 days notice. I don't really feel like I need to do much more than this. I see arguments in both directions, but I think I'm more comfortable with holding them to the terms they agreed to (even if they haven't held up their end all the time).

Originally posted by @Roy N. :

@Jeff Rabinowitz 

You are absolutely correct ... though in my jaded experience, a tenant who tells you on the 12th that they plan to move out on the 15th, is not likely to actually be out and have the place "broom clean" by the 15th.

Roy, I agree and I may be even more jaded than you. In my experience, a tenant who thinks they have a good chance to get some money back will do a better job of cleaning and will try harder to move on time than they would otherwise. If they fail to honor their end of the bargain, which I agree is likely, you do not need to refund any money at all. You will still probably have the house back earlier and cleaner than you would have. You also have full recourse to their security deposit. What if they take you to court over withholding the security deposit? Look how reasonable you will appear to the judge. You will probably get everything you ask for.

what if you gave them the refund. then the 15th rolls around and there are problems with the move. its president's day weekend. i am not sure how they are going to move yet if they are using a public service (u-haul, movers, cleaners/ maid service) i'm sure there will be a hiccup in their plans. it sounds to me that the tenants are rushing into their plans and may not have thought things through. 

normally a month to month lease requires a 30 day notice. not a two day notice. even if they have reminded you months before that they were interested in looking to move.  it doesn't mean that it was set in stone. they were just thinking about it, dreaming about it, or even asking for advice. this is why your lease became month to month, not day to day. if the relationship is in good standing, provide the security deposit with a great letter of reference and wish them the best. 

besides, you want to have a reputation of being a fair and understanding landlord. not one where people can get over on. rules are rules and fair is fair.

@Karen Johnson  

They are probably playing you.  Tell them the rent is not refundable.  But, if they leave the place the same way you handed it to them they "should" get a full security deposit.  

3 days notice? No way would I give them a refund. Stick to your lease.

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