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What To Do Before Signing A Lease


Congratulations! You found the perfect rental to live in, and all you have to do now is sign a lease. Not so fast, however. You’ll need to look over specific details before moving forward. The lease is designed to protect the renter and the landlord, so you need to understand it fully. Here are five steps to take before signing a lease to help ensure a happily ever after.

Note Any Previous Damage
You will need to pay a security deposit and the first month’s rent when signing a lease. The deposit is usually the same amount as a month of rent. To get the money back when you move out, you want to ensure there is no damage to your rental. When touring rentals, take notes of any damage you see, such as a carpet stain or crack in the walls. Taking photos with your phone is a great way to capture signs of damage with a time stamp if a question ever arises over when damage occurred. Before signing a lease, make sure both you and the landlord have a signed copy of the damage. Then, when it comes time to move out, you will not be charged for anything broken that was not caused by you.

Discuss Utilities And Fees
Some leases cover some or all of the utilities. Some do not. Check the lease to see which utilities will be your responsibility. You will need to figure out if you can afford the rent and utilities every month. Ask the landlord about what happens if the rent is late. Leases typically grant about a three-day grace period for late rent. After that, there is a late fee added to the due rent.

See If The Landlord Lives Nearby
Before signing the lease, ask if the landlord or property manager lives nearby. If there are issues with the rental, make sure it can get solved quickly. Remember, the landlord is allowed to enter your property, but they must give at least a 24-hour notice. Look through the lease to see if landlord visits are included.

Read The Fine Print
Read through the entire contract before signing it. You both want to be in agreement with the details. If anything is missing or needs to be changed in the contract, let the landlord know. Do not rely on a verbal promise. Everything should be written down. After signing the contract, you and your landlord need to keep a signed, dated, and agreed upon copy for future reference. Having that copy notarized will provide additional protection. If you have concerns about the contract, seek legal advice from a professional. A little money invested upfront on legal advice can save a lot of heartache down the road.

Do Your Research
If you are trying to stay within a specific budget, you want to find the best rental for the price level. Compare prices online to make sure you are getting a good deal. If you are in a city where rental demand is high, search for a property during weekdays. Some landlords may list the rent higher during the weekend because more people are searching for homes. If you find your dream apartment that stretches your current budget – see if you can reduce your other expenses without this becoming a burden. Having an up-to-date budget is helpful here and will save you time deciding if you can afford to spend more on rent. Your Credit Union has an excellent interactive online budgeting tool that makes this quick and easy. Check it out here.

In Conclusion
It is necessary to understand and agree to the terms of your lease. Doing so will save you headaches if there are any issues with the rental. Make sure to communicate with your landlord to create an effective, professional relationship.

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