My new rental agreement contains the language:

Delivery of Premises: If for whatever reason whatsoever Landlord does not deliver possession of the premises on the commencement of the term of this Agreement, rent shall be prorated until such time as Landlord tenders possession.

The rental period is set to begin May 1, 2016.

We will be out of state on the 1st, and have agreed (in email) with the landlord to pick up the keys on the 7th, on our way home from the airport, with the intent to move in the next day.

We offered to pick up the keys any time April 27-30, before we left town, but the landlord indicated she would prefer to give us the keys once we returned, for liability reasons, which I understand.

As of right now, the agreement indicates we owe the full rent ($1,100) for May, we have paid the deposit and last month's rent, and will pay the first month's rent when we move in.

I realize it's us that are unable to accept possession of the premises, but it does say "for any reason whatsoever."

We are renting in Seattle.

  • For what it's worth - the clause is worded poorly and ambiguities do usually go against the drafter of the agreement when one party does the drafting. In this specific case, I think the facts would weigh more on the side of you and the landlord having modified the date on which physical possession would take place in such a way as to make this a non-issue. Another way of saying the same thing is that it wasn't the landlord who refused to give you possession at commencement, but you who refused to accept it, and the landlord simply accommodated your request.
    – Patrick87
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 16:14
  • @Patrick87 And in conclusion, I owe the whole month's rent? That's what I figure, but $300 is $300. Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 20:28
  • Essentially yes, I think a finder of fact would find the present circumstances support the landlord's claim to the whole month of rent without proration.
    – Patrick87
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 21:31

2 Answers 2


Deliver possession does not mean deliver the keys. It means that the property is legally available to you. It's the legal possession that is delivered. Physical possession is something different.

  • What is legal possession, then? If I legally possess it when the agreement begins, than what does this clause protect against? Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 20:29
  • @Azor-Ahai Fire, construction, former tenant not moving out... that sort of stuff. The clause is there in response to either a common law rule or statute that says that a tenant can cancel the lease if landlord fails to deliver. It's also there to thwart a tenant's attempt to win damages if landlord doesn't deliver (storage costs, hotels, couldn't take a shower so I didn't get hired, etc). In other words, landlord wins and tenant loses.
    – jqning
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 20:56

The landlord has made the premises available to you from the 1st and you are free to avail yourself of it. This is no different for you to being away for a vacation in 6 months time.

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