Do You Pay Rent for the Previous Month or Next Month?

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Is Rent Due in advance or after

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One of the biggest questions we get asked from tenants is whether ‘they are paying rent for the previous month or next month?’ Or a similar question of ‘Is Rent paid for the month ahead or behind?’

In this post, we’ll look at whether you are paying rent for the previous month or the next month.

In short, unlike with utilities or other vendors, with apartments you are pre-paying rent for the upcoming month. In other words, with apartment rent, you are generally paying for the month ahead.

Watch this quick summary video:

How Does Rent Work?

In almost every state and city in America, you are almost always paying rent for the upcoming month (i.e the month ahead). In other words, you are pre-paying your rent. For example, if you move into a new apartment on January 1, it is likely that you have already paid for that month (as most apartments require advance payment of the first month’s rent and security deposit). Your next scheduled payment will be due by the 1st of February – which is for your upcoming residency during the month of February.

How Do Utilities Work?

Do You Pay Rent for the Previous Month or Next Month? | Row of Gas Meters |

The way rent works can be different from the way utilities work. For utilities that are billed directly based on usage, they are billed in the arrears (or after the fact). For example, your electricity company won’t know how much you have used your lights or air conditioning system until the end of the month, so you will get your invoice after they have calculated your consumption. Some utilities you may pay a flat fee for so this is different. In this example, on February 1st, you will be paying for your electric that you used all during the month of January.

Why Pay Rent First?

Most landlords expect you to pay rent in advance for the month you intend to live there as it helps protect them from liability in case you move out of the apartment and choose not to pay. Receiving this payment in advance also helps the landlord manage expenses that may be related to the property, including repairs or maintenance work if needed.

apartment complex in the winter

picture of snow on the ground of an apartment building in the winter, for apartment hunting tips when touring in the winter

Setting a specific routine and deadline also ensures that the tenant and landlord know exactly when rent is expected. For the tenant, this means ensuring there are sufficient funds in the bank account. For the landlord, this means any additional expenses related to the property can be better prioritized knowing the funds are coming in on a certain date.

Most leases in America begin on the first of any month. This is why it makes sense that all rent payments for the month are due on the first. Some landlords may even offer a grace period for paying rent a few days late without any penalty.

If you are a tenant, it pays to understand why payment is usually expected in advance of the month so you are able to better budget and plan.


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