Keep your rental search on track and ensure that you sign a lease that works for you with our two-part series: Below is part one, 10 Things You Should Do Before Signing a Lease:
1. Relationships Matter. Establish a Good One.
Being polite and professional is the best way to develop a relationship with a prospective landlord and create a successful rental negotiation. The way you conduct yourself during a property visit, in emails and in phone conversations is a reflection of you as a potential tenant. Never try to pull one over on a landlord in a negotiation as this could backfire and create tension or worse, prevent you from landing the apartment of your dreams.
Just as the landlord needs to trust you with their rental property, you also want to know that you can trust them to address your most important concerns and maintain a safe and comfortable home environment for you. So if you’re serious about moving into the unti, put your best foot forward, be open, ask questions and take the time to establish a good relationship with your future landlord.
2. Think of Your First Visit as an Inspection.
Before signing a lease, make sure you really put it to the test. Don’t fall in love at first sight, explore and inspect the apartment thoroughly with the landlord with you to address any concerns. It’s important that your new home meets all of your criteria for function, safety and comfort.
The goal of the inspection is to identify all potential issues before signing the lease so that you can address these with the landlord. Best case scenario, you point out a few issues and the landlord is amenable to addressing your concerns and you are able to get modifications and improvements written into your lease agreement. Worst case scenario, you discover that the landlord will not or cannot resolve your primary concerns, giving you the option to walk away from an apartment that may not be a great fit for you.
3. Document Any Existing Damage Prior to Moving In.
Once the landlord has given you the option to rent the apartment, make sure to document any pre-existing damage before signing a lease. If there is anything that the landlord did not agree to fix from your initial visit inspection such as stained carpeting, broken blinds or missing tiles in the shower, make sure this damage is documented in your lease as pre-existing. You don’t want to be accused of and charged for this damage later.
By documenting such damage, you are protecting yourself from potential charges to your security deposit for which you are not responsible.
4. Know What’s Included.
Some rental properties include utilities like, cable and parking within the monthly rental cost, while other properties do not. This can impact your monthly budget and make an otherwise affordable apartment, not so affordable. Some properties might offer public transportation, on-site health club memberships, or discounts to local gyms, all of which could save you money depending on your overall budget. Before signing a lease, ask your landlord exactly what is included in the monthly rent rate, and what fees are extra or add-ons, so that you are clear about how this new apartment will impact your monthly budget and lifestyle.
5. Can You Customize?
Painting the walls, hammering big nails in the walls, or installing your own lighting without permission could result in lease termination or loss of your security deposit. If apartment customization is important to you, be sure to discuss it with your potential landlord before signing a lease.
Most importantly, be sure to get any approvals in writing to avoid any disputes at the end of the lease.