If rent is based on usage, it seems like you should pay less rent during the 28 (or 29!) days of February than you do in other, longer months. After all, the utility fees will be cheaper for that month (less water, gas, electric usage), and the apartment building’s service fees could even decrease (fewer days to pay for cleaning services, trash pickup, etc.). It’s an argument that some renters make to their landlords in an effort to save some cash in February, but before you approach your landlord or management office with your rationale, there are some other factors you should consider.
Why a landlord shouldn’t (and most likely won’t) prorate your rent this month boils down to some key points. The biggest? “By definition, a rental rate is per month, whether or not the month has 28 days or 31,” explains David Roberson, Esq., principal of Silicon Valley Property Management Group which manages apartments for rent in San Jose, CA. “I own 22 rental properties and manage over 100 properties for my clients. I’ve had dozens of tenants ask for prorated rents in February, but my answer has consistently been ‘no’ because ‘per month’ means per month, not per 30 days.”
There’s probably no harm in making your case to your landlord, but here’s why the chances of getting your February rent prorated are slim.
Nothing else is prorated
If your apartment is owned by an individual (not a management company), the homeowners’ insurance is not prorated. Neither are the property taxes nor the management fees they pay. And if the landlord is paying full price for these items in February, they’re going to want a full rent check to cover them. “Rents are based on annual costs,” explains Kyle Alfriend, a real estate agent with Alfriend Group RE/MAX Realtors in Dublin, OH, who is also a landlord. “These costs are then divided by 12 months. To discount February would simply mean to increase the other months to cover the difference. We still need the same amount of money at the end of the year.”
Prorated rent is reserved for special circumstances
Prorated monthly rents are commonly used when a renter “will not be occupying a property for a full month and [is] responsible for partial rent,” explains Phillia Kim Downs, a real estate agent with Phillia & Claire, a luxury real estate firm in New York, NY. This often happens when you move in or out midmonth. “And the prorate is the monthly rent divided by the number of total days in that month. Then the prorated day rate that you calculated can be applied and multiplied by the number of days that the tenant will be occupying the space.” For instance, if the rent on your apartment is $2,000 per month and you’re moving in on March 10, you’d pay only for the 21 days you’re living there in March. The daily rate breaks down to about $64.50 a day, so $1,354.50 (which makes a good case for moving in mid-February).
Landlords have mortgages too
When a landlord rents a property, he or she determines the monthly rent by looking at things like HOA fees, property taxes, and, yes, oftentimes, a monthly mortgage. “Landlords have mortgages to pay themselves and have investors to pay back, so they need the required amount each month,” explains Downs. So to prorate one month would throw these other payments out of sync for the landlord.
It’s too tedious
Let’s be honest: Prorating rent for two or three days is most likely not going to have a huge impact on your bank account ($193.50 for three days, from our above example, out of a $2,000 per month rent). In fact, the savings are so minimal that it’s probably not worth going through the hassle of even asking your landlord if he or she will do it. In addition, if you’re asking for a discount in February, you’re also opening the door to pay more rent in the months that have 31 days — seven months altogether. So although you’ll save money for two to three days in February, you could end up paying more money for seven months of the year. (Facepalm.)
Have you asked for prorated rent in February? Share your experience in the comments below!