It’s that time of year! School is starting again, and many people and students are signing leases in new homes. We know that your signature on a 20-page lease document may feel like you’re signing your life away, but we have tips on how to make sure all of your bases are covered, to ensure your renting experience is as stress-free as possible.
What To Look For
When signing a lease, it is important to know what should and should not be in that agreement. To be sure you’re being treated fairly, it is of the utmost importance that you read the lease. That’s right. Read the entire thing. It may take thirty minutes of your time, but at least you will understand everything about your new home and rental agreement.
Consistency Is Key
Be sure that everything in the lease matches what your landlord/leasing agent told you. If you find policies that don’t sound right, ask for clarification. Most property management companies and landlords will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Utilities and Community Rules
Make sure you note what utilities are and are not included in your monthly rent. If your rent is already at the top of your budget, you’ll want to make sure utilities like electricity, gas, parking, internet, and trash removal are included, so you aren’t stretching your pocketbook too thin. Also, many apartment complexes and HOA communities have rules about noise, pets, landscaping and curfews, so be sure you understand all rules before committing to live somewhere for a year or more.
You may love your new home when you first move in, but after a few months, for a variety of reasons you could change your mind and want to move out. Or you may love it the entire duration of your lease and want to remain in your home for another year. It’s important that your lease covers the property management company’s policies on this. For terminations it should cover: who can terminate the lease and when, how much notice must be provided before terminating, and how much lease termination costs (usually at least two months rent). For renewal, it should cover if you can renew and when you need to inform the company of this decision. It should also cover if rent will increase with each renewal or remain the same for however long you decide to stay.
We love our furry friends! If you already have pets make sure they’re allowed in your new home. If not, you will likely have to find a different place to live. Fortunately, most property management companies allow small dogs and cats for an additional fee. This may be in the form of a non-refundable pet security deposit, an additional charge on top of your monthly rent, or both. If your new home allows pets, make sure you understand how much they will cost. Additionally, homes that do not allow pets are required to make exceptions for emotional support animals and service animals. Talk to your property management company or landlord if you aren’t sure about their pet policy.
Sometimes things just come up during a lease. You may get a new job out of state, have a family emergency and need to move back home, etc. It is important to be covered if you have to move out of your home early. Subleasing is a great option if lease termination is not allowed. Subleasing lets you rent your home/apartment to someone else by adding them to your lease—meaning that person moves in and pays the bills, so you are no longer financially responsible for the lease and can do what you need to do elsewhere. Be sure subleasing is allowed if you believe you may need it, and be sure to understand the process it entails.
Security deposits can range in price and depend on the home, the property management company and your credit. What is important is that you know if your deposit will be refunded at the end of the lease. If you get refunded, it is also imperative to know what can cause you not to receive all/some of your deposit funds back. These things include, but aren’t limited to: back rent, damages, carpet stains, etc. You should also take note of any rules regarding painting or hanging things on the walls, or copying keys.
Always be sure to read your entire lease and print a paper copy for you to have on hand for your records. Ask any questions you may have—some companies may make small changes to a lease to accommodate you if necessary, as long as you approach them before an issue arises.
If you’re interested in learning more about Precision Realty, visit precisionrealty.com to learn more about our comprehensive services.