If you choose to pay the entirety of a lease upfront, there's no specific law prohibiting the practice. You may have to negotiate directly and sell your landlord on the benefits of paying your lease upfront. If you have credit problems, paying upfront may also ease your landlord's mind about renting to you.
The Hidden Costs of Renting
Even if you pay your rent upfront, you may have to pay additional costs through the life of your lease. This could include utility bills your landlord pays on your behalf, or fees assessed against you for violating apartment policies or taking advantage of apartment services. If you damage your apartment, your landlord can still take additional funds from your deposit at the end of the lease.
Addressing the Benefits
Your landlord might be concerned about not having a steady stream of income, but point out that paying upfront guarantees that he won't have to waste time and money trying to get your payment. This tactic can be particularly helpful to counter credit history problems. If your landlord is hesitant, you can offer to pay a premium fee, but if your landlord is pushing you to pay upfront, try asking for a discount instead.
Writing the Contract
Your contract needs to specifically state that you've paid rent upfront, and should itemize any other financial obligations you have. Ensure that your lease treats the deposit separately from rent. Otherwise, your landlord could call your upfront payment a deposit. If the apartment is damaged during your tenancy, your landlord might deduct from this sum and charge you more money when you move out.
Alternatives to Upfront Payment
If you want to pay upfront and your landlord won't allow it, consider putting the money in a savings account instead. This way, it can earn interest and is already earmarked for rent payments, freeing you up to contribute any additional money you earn to other expenses. If you want to pay upfront because you have bad credit, try offering a larger deposit -- two or three months' rent, for example -- instead.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.