When in transition from one apartment to the next, many renters have a gap between places to live. It’s more common than you might think. So, what do you do when the lease at your current place is up, but you can’t move into your new place for a few more days?

The best option to try first, before putting your stuff into storage and begging for a guest bed or couch from a friend, is to ask for an extension on your current lease. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get one, but your landlord may be agreeable if they haven’t rented your apartment to someone else yet.

How to ask

If you have a good relationship with your current landlord and you’ve been a model tenant, your chances are better for getting an extension. And, if there isn’t a new tenant waiting to get into your apartment and it will sit empty for a while, you may just get a lease extension so your landlord isn’t out any money.

The important thing to know when asking is to be professional. They would be doing you a favor, so be polite and courteous and willing to negotiate.

Put it in writing

You may want to submit a formal lease extension letter which includes pertinent information:

  • Your name, current address and contact information
  • Date of lease extension request
  • The length of the lease extension
  • Reasons for extension
  • Date you need a decision, usually 10 days to two weeks

Putting your request in writing also keeps a record should any issues arise during the extension period.

Timing is everything

If possible, submit your request 30-60 days before your lease end date. This gives your landlord enough notice so that when they find the next tenant, they can set their move in date for when you’ve already left.

Give your landlord something in return

Be proactive in letting your landlord know that you’re willing to pay for this extended time. Calculate the daily rate of rent you pay based on a 30-day cycle, then offer a pro-rated rent based on the total days of your extension.

This is a great place to start, but don’t be surprised if your landlord hikes up the cost of occupying the apartment during the extension – it’s a pretty common practice. Think about it like a convenience charge. The alternative to paying a little more is not having a place to stay, so it’s worth it for just a short period.

Prepare in advance

To avoid the potentially awkward situation of asking for a lease extension toward the end of your time in the apartment, consider adding a clause to your lease when you sign it that speaks to this situation.

Often, the addition of this clause will include the length of time you can extend, a deadline to ask for the extension, as well as any change in rent that may occur. If it’s in the lease to begin with, the landlord is obligated to honor your request. This is something you can write with your landlord or adheres to state Tenant Holdover guidelines.

Regardless of how you word it in your lease, it’s important to read through the entire document carefully to ensure you’re protected as the tenant during your term of occupancy.

There’s no guarantee that your move-out date from your current place and your move-in date for your new apartment will be the same. Lease terms vary, especially if you’re moving during an off-period of transition. Working with your landlord to negotiate a lease extension is one of the best options to keep your stress levels in check during your move, so don’t be afraid to ask.

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