Ten Things to Know Before Signing a Lease Agreement

What to Know About Your Lease Agreement

The most important thing you must do before signing on to rent an apartment is read the lease agreement. These are a few of the most important things you should know about before renting an apartment.

  1. Security deposit

Typically, a security deposit is equal to one month’s rent, although it can be higher. In addition to how much your security deposit is, your lease agreement should also tell you when you will get the money back when you move out and any circumstances in which you would not get your money back.

  1. Insurance requirements

Some leases require you to get renter’s insurance. Regardless, it’s a good idea to get renter’s insurance as a landlord’s insurance won’t protect your property should there be a flood, fire, or any other damaging events.

  1. Rent’s grace period

A grace period is how many days after your rent is due that you can pay without incurring a late penalty. The grace period varies by state. If you still do not pay rent before the grace period is over, you will be charged a late fee.

  1. Number of occupants allowed

Most cities have fire codes that limit the amount of people that are able to live in a room. Additionally, a condo or homeowner’s association may also limit the amount of people able to live in the apartment. If you are planning on adding a roommate sometime after you sign the lease, make sure they will be able to move in.

  1. The guest policy

Much like the number of occupants allowed, many apartments have stipulations about the number of nights a non-rent paying individual can stay. If you plan on having family or friends stay with you for an extended period of time, make sure it won’t interfere with your lease’s policy.

  1. Renewals

A majority of leases are for one year, or eighteen months. If you plan on staying for longer, make sure to know what the renewal process is like and what your options are.

  1. Utilities

Find out whether utilities such as gas, electricity, heat, and hot water are included in your monthly bill or if they will be additional expenses.

  1. Sharing-economy policy

With many businesses such as Airbnb breaking out, many landlords are adding a sharing-economy policy to their leases. This prohibits you from renting out your apartment to travelers through these websites. In certain areas, you may even be breaking the law (not just your lease) by renting out your apartment.

  1. Penalties for lease-breaking

If you leave your lease early, there are consequences. You are to continue to pay for the unit until a new tenant is found. While the landlord must be actively looking for a new tenant, there is no time limit. This means you could be stuck footing the bill for months! Additionally, many leases have a clause that will make you responsible for any releasing costs. This includes broker’s fees, cost of advertisements, and credit checks for potential tenants.

  1. Pet policy

If you have pets, or are thinking about getting one, make sure that your apartment allows your furry friend. Some landlords do not allow dogs while others will allow dogs up to a certain weight limit. Each lease is different, so make sure you know exactly the policy for the apartment you want.

Make sure after picking an apartment and signing the lease, you keep the hard copy of the lease document. This will protect you should your landlord add a stipulation later or try to charge you for something that’s not covered in the lease.


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