Renters Rights: What You Need to Look For in a Lease

Finding the right apartment is a major decision. You must consider the location of your new home and how long it will take you to drive to work every day. The neighborhood and whether it’s the right fit for you and your family is another consideration. One thing you don’t want to overlook is the leasing contract you will sign. Keep in mind that before you finally sign a new lease and commit to an apartment, there are a few things you need to consider.

First and foremost, make sure that the agreement you’re about to sign is actually the agreement you’ve discussed. Anyone can make a mistake, and that includes those who draft leasing contacts. A simple slip of a finger can drastically change the terms of your lease, increasing the rent or changing the name of one of the renters. While these mistakes can be corrected, it is easier to catch them now than it will be to change them later.

Take care to explicitly mention any items that have not been included in your lease documents that should have been. A missing spouse can leave them stranded outside the apartment should they forget their keys, or they may find themselves unable to make decisions regarding maintenance or other services. What about dogs and cats? Some communities charge extra monthly rates for pets, but finding pets in your apartment that were not named on the lease could mean a breach of the leasing agreement and may have costly consequences.

Next, what do the lease terms actually include? In some places renting the apartment means renting the apartment only, leaving you to pay extra if you need a place to park your car or want to have your trash picked up every week. Be sure to note everything that is included in your lease and anything that’s not – all to avoid any surprises when you get your first rent bill.

Finally, make sure you’re aware of what it is going to cost to get out of your lease. A year is a long time and many life events can happen during that year. Should you need to move, there may be certain procedures you’ll need to follow to get out of your lease – including proper notification steps and the likelihood of paying some fees, too. Knowing what it is going to take to get out of your lease can help you to prepare for any decision that might take you out of your new apartment in the future.

Deciding to sign the lease for your new home is a major decision, but you can take away some of the stress and confusion by reading through your new lease agreement carefully and to avoid any surprises in the future.

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