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This situation is occurring in Utah, USA.

I rented a unit to a young couple in the middle of January this year on a month-to-month contract. They paid a full month rent and the prorating was going to come in February. They lived there for only a few days, then gave a thirty day notice. They paid the prorated rent for February since they gave their thirty day notice at the end of January, but apparently a manager told them that we'd refund their prorating if we could rent their unit for the month of February.

They contacted me today saying that their deposit check was late (an internal issue; their thirty day notice wasn't filed), so I'm getting it sent soon. They also said we owed them their prorating back if we were able to rent their unit to another tenant. We did get another tenant into their unit at the beginning of February, but do we legally owe them their rent back? Can they prosecute for us renting a unit that belonged to them?

closed as off-topic by Nij, Dale M, A. K., JeffUK, Andrew Mar 15 at 22:14

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    Requests for legal advice are off topic here. You can ask about what the law says about hypothetical fact patterns, but in cases like this the answer almost certainly depends on the specific language in the lease. – phoog Mar 5 at 5:59
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do we legally owe them their rent back?

The previous tenants are entitled to a refund of the portion that your property has been rented to a new tenant.

Generally speaking, U.S. law prohibits a landlord to get double rent for the same unit at any given point in time. I highly doubt that Utah law is any different in this regard. Even if the lease contract is more advantageous to you in this matter, the clauses at issue would be void if they contravene state legislation.

Can they prosecute for us renting a unit that belonged to them?

My understanding from your question is that the previous tenants moved out (and returned the keys, etc.) prior to the unit being rented to the new tenant. If so, the previous tenants would have neither interest nor merit in suing you for a right that no longer belonged to them.

Instead, the previous tenants can certainly pursue recovery of their refund via small claims court. Their right to a proportional refund accrued at the very moment your unit was leased to the new tenant. Recovery would include the refund to which they are entitled in addition to any other remedies/amounts as provided in Utah statutes.

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Until the rental period ends, it's not yours to rent

While the tenant is paying rent, it's their home and you do not have the right to rent it to someone else.

It seems like your manager has been proactive in looking after yours and your tenant's interests. By proposing a win-win outcome where they can start showing the unit and possibly renting it early (as they have done) they have eliminated "dead-time" after the current tenant moved out and before the next tenant moved in and they have saved the outgoing tenant some money. Be sure to thank them.

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    Once the tenants have moved out and returned the keys, thereby surrendering possession, the landlord is not only entitled but may be obliged to attempt to re-rent, so as to mitigate damages. Of course, a landlord may not start a new tenancy while prior tenants are still in lawful possession, although a lease may be signed before old tenants vacate to start after the expected date of vacancy – David Siegel Mar 5 at 23:54

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