Before putting your stuff into storage and begging for a guest bed or couch from a friend, choose the vastly easier option and send your landlord a lease extension letter. There's no guarantee that you'll get one, but your landlord may agree to extend your lease end date if they haven't rented your apartment to someone else yet.
What is a lease extension?
A lot of rental concepts are pretty complicated, but fortunately, this isn't one of them. A lease extension is exactly what it sounds like — an extension on the length of time you're allowed to stay in your rental. This can range from a few days to a few months, depending on what you work out with your landlord. You can expect to pay a prorated amount on your monthly rental rate for the additional time you occupy the space.
Asking for an extension
If you have a good relationship with your current landlord and you've been a model tenant, your chances are probably pretty good for getting an extension. It also helps if there isn't a new tenant waiting to get into your apartment. It doesn't benefit the landlord if the place sits empty, so you may get a lease extension so he or she isn't out as much money.
The important thing to know when asking is to be professional and reasonable in your lease extension letter. If the landlord agrees to the extension, he or she is doing you a favor, so be polite, courteous and willing to negotiate.
Put it in writing
A lease is a legal document, so a lease extension letter request should be treated with the same level of importance. To request a lease extension, submit a formal letter containing all the pertinent details your landlord needs to make a decision. The letter should include:
- Your name, current address and contact information
- Date the lease extension request is submitted
- Length of the lease extension, including the proposed end date
- Reasons for extension
- Date by which 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 lease extension letter 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 and expecting to pay for this extended time. Calculate the daily rate of rent you pay based on a 30-day cycle, then offer a prorated rent based on the total days of your extension. So, if your monthly rent is $1,000 and you need to stay an extra week, the rent for the extension period would be $250.
This is a great place to start, and certainly a reasonable offer, 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 of it as a convenience charge. The alternative to paying a little more is not having a place to stay, moving your things multiple times and wasting money on temporary storage space, so it's worth it for just a short period.
Sample lease extension letter
Not sure what to say in a lease extension letter? Check out our downloadable example!
[City, State Zip Code]
[City, State, Zip Code]
Lease Extension Request for [Rental Address]
Dear [Landlord's Name],
Please accept this letter as a formal request for an extension to the lease for [Property Address]. Currently, the lease is set to expire on [date]. I would like to amend that date to end on [new date]. I propose to pay you the prorated amount of [extension rent amount] for the additional days that I will occupy the property.
I am asking for this extension because [insert reason here, for example: I am moving out of state, I am getting married, etc.] Your flexibility with my lease end date will make this transition time much more seamless.
I appreciate your careful consideration of this matter. Please respond to this letter with an answer in writing within two weeks [by date]. Feel free to contact me with any questions or to discuss this matter.
[Tenant's Unit Number]
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 addresses 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.
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 the term of occupancy.
Nothing to lose, everything to gain
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. 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. The worst thing your landlord will say is no!