If a rental agreement doesn't mention prorating, is there a default as to whether it can be prorated

My rental agreement states a rental amount per month, but says nothing about whether rent will be prorated if we give notice we are moving out in the middle of a month.

Is there a default state? In other words, in the absence of a stipulation about pro-rating in the agreement, is it true by default that rent must be pro-rated given a certain amount of notice? Or default that rent needn’t be pro-rated if the landlord doesn’t want to? Or is there no default state here?

Indiana state law applies…


Does your state have something like a “Landlord-Tenant” act? Most Canadian provinces do. It states terms as to how much notice is required to terminate a lease, maximum (if any) damage deposit and prepayment of rent, etc.

Or else you have a signed lease agreement, and it says in there whether you can terminate any time, or just on month-end dates, etc.

If not, one presumes that common sense applies, and you simply pro-rate. Without a signed agreement, and with decent notice, the landlord can’t complain he didn’t have time to look for replacement tenants. In Canada, typically, all leases end at month-end dates by law (absent private agreements) and apply in monthly amounts simply to avoid the chaos of people coming and going all month long, leaving landlords with empty units for part of the month.

Thanks md2000.

Reading it again, and thinking a little, I think I’m pretty sure now that what’s written down adds up to saying the landlord can agree to prorate at her discretion, but is not obligated to. This is because what I’m considering is going month-to-month next month, and moving out in the middle of the month. What the agreement says is that I can go month-to-month if I “continue to reside on the premises with the consent of the landlord but without agreeing to another full two month term” or words to that effect. So presumably if the landlord agrees to prorate, I have consent, and if not, I don’t, and I have to pay for the full month.

There’s a Common Law precept* that says that ambiguities in a contract can be interpreted in favour of the party that didn’t write the contract. I have no idea if that applies in this case, or even if it’s entrenched in any U.S. legal tradition. I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of a prorate mistake in a contract (in my case, it was that there was no language to prorate my severance pay based on the fraction of the last year that I was employed, and so they were obliged to pay round up my years of service for purposes of the calculation), but I bring it up only in case it might be a useful avenue of investigation.

  • Or at least that’s my understanding. IANAL.

The last time I rented the lease was month to month. There was clause that stated we had to give 30 days notice before moving out. And if we did not we were liable for up to 30 days from notice for the days the unit remained empty.

Read the contract carefully. When I managed property, we said nothing in the contract about pro-rating one way or the other… but the section on rent specified “per month or portion thereof” and the section that covered giving notice said (paraphrased) “You must give us notice 30 days before the end of your last month.” Thus, it’s implied that your last month will be a whole month, and you would owe for a whole month even if you intended it to be less.

The only time we pro-rated for someone moving out was for a tenant where we already had a new tenant lined up and we wanted a couple of weeks to get the apartment carpeted and painted.

We pro-rated more often for people moving in and the contract had a line for the first month’s rent that separated it from the rate for any following months.

If the landlord won’t let you prorate, make sure to point out to them that you’ll be keeping possession of the apartment until 11:59PM of the final day of the month. One time I moved out middle of the month, and the landlord demanded I pay the full month’s rent. I happened to drive by a week later, and noticed that new tenants had moved in. I was on the phone to the landlord that day, telling him he could refund half a month’s rent, or I’d see him in small claims court. He caved and refunded the money. Then I put a pile of “Know your Tenant’s Rights” pamphlets from the state in the mailbox area of the building.

This may be only of tangential value, but we recently vacated an apartment in California that we’d been renting month-to-month. I don’t believe the rental agreement specifically addressed pro-rating, but I haven’t got it in front of me.

We chose as our move-out date August 17 and we informed the landlord officially of this (he knew from hallway conversations that we had purchased a house and would be leaving soon) in the first part of July.

At the landlord’s direction our rent for August, paid on August 1, was pro-rated. We paid 17/31 of our normal monthly rent.