Moving can be very exciting, especially if it's your first time living on your own in an apartment. However, it's important to be informed before you sign a lease, which is a legally-binding contract between a landlord and a tenant.
Here are five things to know before signing the lease:
- Read the lease. Confirm that the terms in the lease match what you have been told. Ask questions about what you don't understand. Read the fine print too!
- Termination and Extension. Understand the lease termination policies and what is and isn't permissible. For example, what happens if you need to move before the lease term expires? What does it cost to break the lease? Will you lose your deposit? Can you sublet or have someone take over your lease? Does your lease automatically renew at the end of the term or do you need to contact the apartment manager?
- Repairs and damages. Physically inspect the apartment before you move in. Make sure everything works and note in writing with the leasing agent any damage and ask to have it fixed before you sign the lease or note it in the lease. For example, are there stains in the carpet, scratches on the refrigerator or broken electrical outlets? Damages not noted at the time of move-in may be charged against your security deposit when you move out.
- Policies and Rules. Read the apartment policies and rules. Are there noise limitations? Where do guests park? Are pets allowed? Where do you take your garbage?
- Additional Costs. Is there a pet deposit? Is parking extra? Factor into your monthly budget any additional housing-related costs such as utilities, internet, cable TV and renter's insurance. Many apartment communities require renters insurance which protects your personal assets.
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