How Does Prorated Rent Work in a Real Estate Transaction?

Prorated rent splits the amount between the previous and new owners of a rental

A couple signs paperwork for a new rental property they just purchased

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Selling a rental property involves a few more wrinkles than selling other types of real estate. Any rent that is paid to the seller prior to the date of closing must be prorated at the closing table in a real estate rental property transaction. This means that the seller owes the buyer any rent amounts that represent the period of time from closing through the end of the rental period—usually a month. 

Prorated rent is normally done through the date of closing, and it doesn't include security deposits, which can be turned over to the buyer by the seller to be held as they were before the sale. The buyer would then be responsible for the deposits and their eventual disposition based on the terms of the new rental agreement.

Key Takeaways

  • When an owner sells a rental property to someone else, the rent during the month of closing is usually prorated.
  • When rent is prorated, the old owner gets the rental income through the date of closing and the new owner receives the rental income for the days remaining in that month after closing.
  • There are two things that are needed to determine the prorated rent: the number of days rent the seller owes the buyer and the rental amount per day.
  • If you get a new tenant in your rental property, and they move in mid-month, you'll have to also prorate the month for the old tenant and the new tenant.

How To Calculate Prorated Rent

To determine the amount for the prorated rent, follow these three steps:

  1. Determine the number of days rent the seller owes to the buyer
  2. Calculate the rental amount per day
  3. Multiply the rental amount per day by the number of days the seller owes the buyer

For example, let's say you're the owner of a condo that you rent out to a family. The rent per month is $2,000. You decide to sell the rental property to another person, and you'll close the real estate transaction on Sept. 15.

There are 30 days in September. The rental amount per day is equal to $2,000 divided by 30 days, which equals about $67. Because the closing takes place in the very middle of the month, you as the older owner will get 15 days of rental income and the new owner will also get 15 days of rental income. At $67 per day, you each get $1,000. If you were to close on Sept. 10 instead, you'd receive $666.60 and the new owner would get $1,333.40.


Prorated rent is shown as a "credit" to the buyer and a "debit" to the seller on the closing statement. 

Other Considerations With Prorated Rent

Rental properties are purchased for their cash flow and overall return on investment with appreciation and tax advantages, whether they're single-family dwellings or apartments. The proration of rent at closing is only one important consideration.

Buyers should determine whether the reported rents are correct. Make sure that the rents in spreadsheets and income documents are factual. A prospective buyer of a rental property should get bank statements to verify that those are the actual rents being paid. If one apartment's rent is supposed to be $750 a month, confirm that this is indeed the amount being deposited each month.

For example, the landlord might have been letting the tenant trade services for some or all of his rent payment. Perhaps the tenant was providing cleaning and maintenance services, or maybe the tenant received an off-the-books rent reduction due to a personal relationship with the landlord. For whatever reason, the numbers will balance only when all rents included in tenant leases are deposited.

A prospective buyer might also inquire as to whether the seller is charging current market rates. Confirm whether tenants are paying below, at, or above what other landlords in the area are charging for similar properties. There can be real value in this area for the buyer. Some landlords are either lazy or don't like interviewing and placing new tenants so they'll avoid increasing rents for long periods of time to keep the same tenants in place.

The rents being paid can be significantly below current market rates as a result. Rents can be increased immediately upon lease expiration to change the ROI and cash flow for the benefit of the new owner. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is prorated rent?

Prorated rent is when one month of rent is split between two parties—either the old owner and the new owner of the rental property or the old tenant and the new tenant of the rental.

How do you calculate prorated rent?

To calculate prorated rent, take the total monthly rent amount and divide it by the number of days in that month. Take this daily rent amount and multiply it by the number of days in which you as the renter or the owner will be involved with the property. For example, if rent is $2,500 per month in September, the daily rate is $83.33. If you are the tenant and will move in on Sept. 15, you'll only owe rent from Sept. 16-30, or 15 days. Your prorated rent amount is $1,250.

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  1. American Family Insurance. "Prorating Rent Tips."

  2. State of California, Department of Transportation. "Rent Proration Examples."

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