Ask Lucas

Ask Lucas 033: Am I Allowed to Collect Double Rent?

Summary:

Kelly asks “am I allow to collect double rent on a property when one tenant moves out early?” It’s a question that all landlords ask themselves at one point or another. Learn what Lucas recommends, and why.

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Transcript:

Lucas: Ask Lucas, episode number 33.

Hey, what’s up, everyone? Welcome to Ask Lucas. I’m Lucas Hall and this is a bite-sized Q&A show where I answer your questions about landlording and property management. If you have a question, just leave a recorded message on asklucas.com and I’ll do my best to answer it here. Today’s question is from Kelly, who’s asking: “Can I collect double rent when a tenant moves out early?” Before I get there, let me tell you a little bit about Cozy. Ask Lucas and Landlordology are provided by Cozy, which provides modern property management software and tools for landlords and property managers like you and me. The best part is it’s completely free. I’ve been using it for many years to screen my own applicants and collect rent online, and I absolutely love it.

In fact, my tenants love it to, so much so that when they left, when they vacated, they asked if they could take Cozy with them and use it on their new landlord. I think they got that worked out. It’s just a great testimony how much it’s enjoyed by both parties. Check out for yourself. The credit reports are detailed and complete, and you never have to worry about if your rent is in the mail. It’s all online and easy to use by everyone. Get peace of mind for yourself at Cozy.co. That’s C-O-Z-Y.co. Now let’s hear from Kelly.

Kelly: Hi, Lucas. I have a tricky one. My tenant is moving out of his last month lease a few days early, but I also have a new tenant moving in during this overlap period before the end of the month. My question is, do I need to pay my old tenant a reimbursement for those end days that they’re not in the unit, which overlaps the days that my new tenant will be in the unit? I am getting double rent for this period, which is great, but there was nothing in the lease about this situation. I am not inclined to pay my old tenant for the extra days, especially because it has been their choice to move out these five days early. Would love to get your answer on this. My name’s Kelly. Thanks, Lucas.

Lucas: Hey, Kelly. Thanks for your question. I’m really glad you asked it because every landlord will have to ask themselves about double rent at one time or another. Let’s just recap your scenario for the audience. You have a tenant who has paid up until the end of the month when their lease ends, but they’ve decided to move out early. I think you said five days early. Let’s just say the 25th. Now you have a new tenant who you’re wondering, can I let them move in, maybe on the 26th, and have them pay rent for those four days, and also keep the rent from the past tenant who also paid through the 30th.

The short answer is absolutely not. Please do not do that. Do not collect double rent. Do not keep rent from two different people for the same rental property. Let me go into a little bit about the morals, principles, and ethics behind it. Generally speaking, when you rent to somebody you are guaranteeing exclusive access. It’s really quite simple. You’re collecting money and the tenant is paying you for exclusive access to that property. It’s the very foundation of a landlord-tenant relationship.

When you collect money from someone else for the same property for exclusive access, then you’ve got yourself in a pickle because now you have two different leases, two different people, both with guaranteed exclusive access. That’s impossible. I’ve not come across a judge anywhere that will allow that, nor have I seen any sort of legal statute that allows that. That said, I’m not a landlord or tenant attorney, or attorney in general, and I don’t give legal advice. This is just common sense landlord advice.

I would say that what you could do and what your best option is, is to go back to the previous tenant and say, “Hey, that’s great. You know, I love that you’re moving out early. It actually helps me out because I have a tenant who would love to move in early, and I will just refund the money for the days that I have a new tenant staying there.” You don’t have to give them back all the money for the days that they moved out because they still are paying the lease, but as soon as you have somebody else paying money then you need to not collect that double rent. If it takes you three days to turn over the property and then the person moves in on the 28th, then you’ve got just a few days of double rent and you can give back just those few days.

That’s what I would recommend you do, is that you talk to the previous tenant and you say, “I am officially terminating your lease early,” and therefore they’re not responsible for the rent after the lease is terminated. It happens all the time. Landlords and tenants agree to this all the time because life happens and they need to move on and have some overlap or move out early. It just works out. Do not collect double rent. That would be my recommendation. Make sure that you give it back to the previous tenant and then just enjoy the fact that you were able to help out your new tenant and help them move in early. It actually helps you out because you don’t lose any rent. Enjoy nurturing that relationship so that you can potentially keep them for years to come. Good luck to you and thank you again for the question. Best of luck with your future tenants.

About Lucas Hall

Lucas is the Chief Landlordologist at Cozy. He has been a successful landlord for over 10 years, with dozens of happy tenants and a profitable income property portfolio.
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