Maybe you’ve got a windfall of cash. Maybe you hit the lottery or maybe you got a bonus at work. Regardless of where the money comes from you’re thinking about using that extra money to prepay your rent, but is that possible? Can you pay rent in advance?
Can You Pay Rent in Advance?
The quick answer is yes you can…usually.
Many landlords will be happy to take your cash upfront but some of them won’t.
It saves them a lot of worry on the back end, but it can also cause them more work and a different set of worries.
But before you run off to hand over all this cash, there are a few things you need to take into consideration as paying your monthly rent in advance might not be all it’s cracked up to be.
1. You Might Be Scammed
Unfortunately, we live in a world where not everyone is a good person.
There are plenty of people out there trying to take advantage of your good nature.
This is especially true online.
Scammers will post what seems to be a great apartment for rent, but in reality, the apartment doesn’t exist or they have no legal authority to rent it.
They prey on someone that is moving from one state or town to another and who will not have an opportunity to visit the apartment before renting.
They will ask you to wire your rent in advance.
Even if this is just the typical first month and security deposit amount, it could still add up to thousands of dollars depending on where you are renting.
If you are paying additional rent in advance, say six months’ worth or even a year, you are talking about a large sum of money.
And once you have wired this money it will be gone for good.
You will never get this advance rent back.
Not to mention you will be in a terrible financial situation where you still have to come up with rent upfront to rent a real apartment.
Now, don’t think this type of scam only happens online.
The truth is even if you go to see the apartment in person, a scammer, can meet you at the apartment and if they have gained entry into the apartment it makes sense that you would assume they are actually the landlord.
To protect yourself, be sure to always meet the landlord in their office.
Also, real estate agents typically know landlords, so call one and check the landlord out before doing business with them.
This is a good practice in general, but if you are paying monthly rent in advance for several months or annual rent, it is a step you shouldn’t skip.
2. The Apartment Complex Might Be in Foreclosure
Another reason why you may want to forget the idea of an advance payment of rent is that the apartment complex or house could be in foreclosure.
That means the owner of the apartment may lose the apartment.
Now, there are rules and regulations that do protect the renter to a certain degree, but you really don’t want to find yourself in this position.
If you plan on paying more than the first month’s rent and security deposit, do what you can to determine the financial health of your landlord.
3. You Might Want to Move
Even if you think you are going to stay in this place for a longer period of time, a year or more, what happens if you end up wanting or needing to move?
You could just be stuck or you might have to walk away from your money.
Life can throw all sorts of curveballs at you that you would never expect or anticipate.
Being locked into a rental because you’ve paid in advance can make a difficult situation even worse.
Reasons to Pay Rent in Advance
There are some good reasons to consider upfront rents.
1. You Might Get a Deal on the Rent
One of the best reasons to pay several months of rent at once is that you might get a discount on rent.
This can be true when renting a new place or when your lease comes up for renewals.
For example, an apartment building might offer you 10 or 15 percent off your rent payment if you pay three or six months in advance.
Just be sure to get that in writing in your rental agreement.
Depending on your rent, this could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
2. You’re Locked in at the Current Rate
Another good reason to make payments in advance is that it locks you into the current apartment rent rate.
While it is true that your lease locks in your rate, you might get a longer lease, say one year or even two years instead of six months or eight months, if you pay in advance.
And let’s face it…when your lease is up, your rent always goes up.
It used to be that an average rent increase would be between $50 or $100 when you sign a new lease, but now, it could go up hundreds or thousands of dollars a month.
And a cheaper rent is always a good rent.
3. Protection if Your Financial Situation Changes
We live in a crazy world.
No one really knows what is going to happen tomorrow let alone six months or a year down the road.
If you make payment in advance you will have the peace of mind that if something bad happens – you lose your job or get injured and can’t work – you don’t have to worry about not being able to pay rent and being evicted.
Advance rent payments can be worth their weight in gold if something in your life comes crashing down.
Reasons Why a Land Lord Might Not Let You Pay in Advance
Of course, not all landlords will let you pay in advance and there are some good reasons for that.
1. They Can’t Raise Your Rent
While it is true that typically your landlord can’t raise your rent until the end of the lease, it is possible that they can under extreme circumstances as long as it is noted in the lease you signed.
However, even if that is not the case, you might expect a longer lease in consideration of paying upfront.
So, that means when your lease would regularly expire and they would be free to raise rents to reflect market rent values, they would be stuck with a tenant paying under market value.
2. You Might Violate the Lease
Chances are you are a great tenant, but let’s say you aren’t.
You play your music too loud.
You’re destructive and abusive to your neighbors.
You even kicked your neighbor’s cat.
Your landlord wants you out of the apartment sooner rather than later, but they can’t evict you because you’ve paid your rent in advance.
If they want to get rid of you, they will have to refund all the advance rent and then try to go through the eviction process.
It can be a real mess for them.
3. Extra Bookkeeping
Bookkeeping and accounting are tough enough to keep straight.
This is especially true with all the rules and regulations states put on landlords.
By accepting rent in advance, it creates even more accounting headaches.
For a larger apartment complex, this might not be a big issue, but for someone renting out a house or that owns a small apartment building, this might be more hassle than it is worth for them.
You may also enjoy:
4. State Rules and Regulations
Speaking of state rules and regulations, each state will have their own and those rules will determine if a landlord can collect rent in advance and what they need to do with it if they do.
It isn’t always cut and dry and can be difficult to navigate all the regulations, so for some landlords, it is just easier not to go down this road.
You may also enjoy:
To Sum it All Up:
There are some good reasons to pay your rent in advance if you can, but just watch out for scammers and make sure this is a place you want to live for a long period of time. Otherwise, you could find yourself in a difficult situation that you can’t get out of.