Finding an apartment can be a stressful process, and it’s tempting to sign a lease as soon as you find a place you want to rent. It’s important, however, to take your time to look carefully and read through the fine print. Keep in mind that you’re signing a contract that legally binds you and your landlord to certain responsibilities. Below, we outline a few practical things to look for before signing a lease.
- Any appliances should be listed on lease to guarantee if something breaks, the landlord is liable to replace or repair it. Keep in mind that if something isn’t in the lease then you have little recourse if it’s taken away.
- Keep an eye out for any mandatory cleaning fees or professional cleaning requirements upon move out.
- Look for provisions on breaking the lease early. What’s the process? What fees exist?
- Make sure you inspect the place on move in and take pictures and notes of any and all problems or damages, that way you won’t be charged on move out. Window missing a screen? Carpet have a tiny stain? Scratches in the hard wood? Note everything.
- If you don’t understand something even a little, ask about it.
- Make sure you know if your responsible for things like lawn care, utilities, time on the lease, provided appliances etc.
- Look up sample leases online and if you see something that seems way different then what you’ve seen ask about it.
- Talk to the landlord about repairs – do they live nearby? Do they do it themselves? Can you call their contractor/handyman yourself? Can you do the repair/order & pay for the repair yourself, provide receipts and deduct it from your rent?