Lease Start Date vs Move-in Date Guide

By PropertyClub Team
Apr 15th 2023
Your lease start date can be the same as your move-in date, but it depends on several factors, including your scheduling and the landlord’s policies. Let’s discuss the differences between them. 

Signing a lease is an exciting event. You’re committing long-term to a residence, and for many, a lease is one of the first steps into adulthood. If you make this commitment, you might hear two terms - lease start date and lease move-in date. What is the difference between these items?

Read on to learn more about the things that set apart the lease start date and move-in date. We’ll talk about everything you need to know before moving into your brand-new space so that you can make the process as simple as possible. 

hash-markLease Start Date vs Move-in Date: Key Differences

  • Your lease start date is the date on which your lease begins and you become legally responsible for the apartment, while your move-in day is the day you take possession of the premises. 
  • The lease start date will always be specified on the lease contract you sign with the landlord, while the move-in date typically won't be, and is agreed to after you sign the lease.  
  • Your first rent payment is due on your lease start date. If you need to move in before then, your landlord may let you do so without paying or may charge you a pro-rated rent. 

hash-markDo You Sign the Lease On Move-In Day?

Signing the lease is the final step in making an apartment yours for a specified amount of time. Once you put your name on the paper, you’ve committed to this extended rental. However, not everyone knows when the lease is signed. Are you supposed to put your name on the lease the day you move in or far before that moment?

When you find an apartment you love, the first thing you’ll need to do is pay a deposit so that the owner holds the space for you. Finances are legally binding, while a verbal statement is not. The lease signing does not happen yet. Now, you need to submit documentation for approval, including items for a background check and proof of income.

Although not every lease signing happens on the day you move in, it’s not uncommon for a person to sign the lease the day the apartment becomes theirs. Once you put your name down, you need to pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit. Sometimes, the lease is signed, and a move-in date is determined.

hash-markWhen Can You Move in After Signing a Lease?

When you sign a lease, there should be a specified date that the lease starts. This date is when you begin paying rent. However, it might not be the day that you move in. The second you sign the lease, you should finalize the move-in day. This action will ensure you have a timeline for the process.

A landlord might delay your move-in if any damages need repairing inside the building. Most of the time, landlords aim to move new tenants in as soon as possible after the old tenants leave to keep as much income flow as possible. So you shouldn’t have to wait too long to get inside your new space.

Clarifying your move-in date can also make it easier for you to prepare. You don’t want to find yourself stuck without a place to live in or a home that isn’t ready when you need it to be. 

hash-markDo You Get Keys When You Sign a Lease?

Most of the time, you get the keys on the day when you move in. For some, this might be the day the lease is signed. For others, it could be a few days or even weeks after the lease is initially signed, depending on the repairs that need to happen.

Landlords often wait to hand out the keys so they can get everything taken care of before the new occupant moves into the space. They also want to avoid squatting, which might happen if a new occupant moves in before paying the first month’s rent.

If you want to see what the place looks like ahead of time, you can always ask the landlord for a copy. Ensure you’re cautious if you do this. Don’t be pushy or rude. When moving, it’s best to stay on the good side of the landlord.

hash-markLease Start Date vs Move-in Date: Bottom Line

While your lease start date and move-in date could be the same, it all depends on when you plan on moving into your new home. The key difference is that your lease start date is the day from which you are contractually responsible for the lease, while your move-in date might is the day you will take possession of the apartment. 

hash-markLease Start Date vs. Move-In Date FAQ

What happens if you move in in the middle of the month? 

One of two things could happen if you move in the middle of the month. You might have a rent due date in the middle of the month, or you might have to pay for the remaining days until the first of the month before paying full-time. This rent is called prorated rent, and it fills in the gap until a routine settles in place.

What does due upon move-in mean? 

Due upon move-in means that rent is due as soon as you move in. This requirement is put in place to keep people from living inside the space without paying any money. Landlords want a steady stream of income from an occupied area.

When should rent be due? 

Most of the time, rent should be due on the first of the month. This moment is easiest to manage and is required in several states. However, there may be instances where a vacant apartment might cause rent to be due in the middle of the month. This date occurs when a landlord wants to make as much profit as possible off a vacated space. They lose money the longer it sits empty.