An apartment lease usually lasts a year–and it can be a really long 12 months if you fall out of love with your apartment. Before signing a lease, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into with Rent.com’s 10 Things to Do Before Signing a Lease.
6. Confirm Pet Policies.
If you currently have a pet, it’s imperative to know in advance what types of pets (if any) are allowed to live on the property. Many properties have strict rules as to the types of pets that are allowed, including specific breeds and weight limits. If you don’t currently have a pet but are interested in getting one in the future, it’s still important to ask so that you know what’s allowed in advance.
Do not under any circumstance plan to sneak a pet onto a property. This could result in a lease termination, or worse, you could be forced to give up your pet. Read our tips for negotiating a pet-friendly lease.
7. Consider Your Commute.
Many renters who work in a city choose to live in the suburbs in order to save rent because oftentimes, there are better rental deals in the outskirts. However, it’s important to consider the additional cost of your daily commute to work before signing a lease in a suburb.
Although your rent might be $200 or $300 less in the outskirts, you may end up paying that much per month on gas or a transit pass, depending on how far away you live. Believe it or not, sometimes it is cheaper to live in the big city and forgo additional transit costs.
8. Ask About Automatic Lease Renewal.
Unless you are leasing on a month to month basis, your lease agreement may include an automatic renewal clause, which gives you the right to renew your lease at the end of its term, so you are protected from being asked to leave against your will.
Typically, a lease renewal clause requires the landlord to notify you that your lease term is ending (usually 15-30 days prior) and to request notification from you if you intend not to renew. If this is not in your lease but you would like it to be, discuss this with the landlord prior to signing.
9. What’s Your Out Clause?
It’s important that you read the lease termination section of your lease agreement carefully so you understand the implications of breaking your lease early and your obligation of notice when you choose to move out at the end of a lease term.
It’s easy to think that you will always love your new apartment and won’t have a reason to break your lease, but life is uncertain and anything can happen so it’s good to be prepared.
10. Get It In Writing and Read Every Word.
Before sealing the deal and signing your name on the dotted line, be sure that your lease agreement incorporates all the points you’ve discussed with the landlord around any improvements that have been guaranteed, any pre-existing conditions and any revisions to policies that may be set forth in the standard lease agreement.
For example, if you’ve been given verbal approval for your pet or to paint your unit even though the lease agreement states otherwise, make sure that the written agreement gets modified. Read your lease agreement in its entirety so you fully understand your obligations to the landlord and their obligations to you.
If there is any language you don’t understand or feel uncomfortable with, don’t be shy. Ask questions and talk through it openly with your landlord so you have a complete understanding of what you are signing.