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December 21, 2015

Tips, Bits & Lists: Day 6

Rental Housing
HomeSteps

On the 6th day of tips, bits & lists, we talk about the six things to know about apartment leases.

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 six things to know and do before signing the lease:

  1. Read the fine print. Be sure to read the entire lease to confirm that its terms match what you have been told. Don't hesitate to ask questions about what you don't understand.
  2. Termination. 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? 
  3. Extension. Does your lease automatically renew at the end of the term or do you need to contact the apartment manager to extend it? Can it be extended month by month?
  4. 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.
  5. 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? 
  6. Additional costs. Have your money ready because typically an application fee, first month's rent and, often, a security deposit must be paid during the leasing process.  Ask if there are any additional fees, such as for pets and parking. It's also a good idea to factor into your monthly budget any additional housing-related costs, such as utilities, internet, cable TV and renters insurance. Many apartment communities require renters insurance, which protects your personal assets.

If you want more tips, check out My Home by Freddie MacSM.

Read other posts in this series and stay tuned for the next six days of tips, bits & lists.

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