Signing a lease into a new property can be quite tempting, especially if you are a first-time renter—but it’s important to know what you’re agreeing to.
There is more to leasing than just giving a check to your landlord. Most people miss out on crucial details and end up in regrets. To avoid inconveniences, get to know every detail regarding the property. Here are the most important things to read and understand before signing a lease agreement.
Lease Termination and Change of Terms
Lease termination is easily the most important factor because it underlines the end-of-term processes. Chances are you don’t plan on renting from this landlord for the rest of your life, so you should know up front what it takes to end the lease.
Ask for full details about the following:
- How soon the landlord must notify you before changing terms like rent cost
- What cleaning and repairs you’re responsible for after terminating your lease
- How soon your security deposit is paid back
- When you have to notify your landlord about terminating your lease
- If subletting is available
- How long the lease lasts
With these lease requirements in mind, you can figure out if the lease is suitable for you. Agree with your property manager on proof of damage before your deposit is deducted for expenses. Since there are lots of disputes on security deposits, make sure expectations are clear, and commit to taking photos of the property as soon as you move in.
Remember to find other sources of information besides just the landlord. Ask current tenants, past tenants, or neighbors about their past with the landlord. They can help you determine how often the landlord changes their terms.
Guest/Roommate and Pet Policy
Most people never think of third-party policies when signing leases, but it can be a big problem later on. Since not all landlords will let you have roommates or pets, this area should be agreed upon before signing a lease.
Read your lease to understand the following:
- The number of roommates you can have
- Whether pets are allowed on the property
- Whether it’s possible to change roommates at will
- The kind of pets you can have
- Policies regarding guest visits
These policies are essential if you are subletting. You should read all terms and conditions so you don’t break subletting agreements.
Parking Options Specified in the Lease
If you are renting in an area with limited parking, ensure you (and potential guests) have enough parking options to feel at home.
Ask your landlord about their parking specifications, and be wary of rules that seem too strict or limited. Though you may drive just one compact car now, you might need additional parking or larger parking spaces in the future, and it’s wise to accommodate for that before you move in.
These parameters should be agreed upon when signing a lease agreement:
- Extra parking charges, if any
- Maximum number of vehicles allowed in the parking space
- Whether you are entitled to a personal parking space
- Types of vehicles allowed
- Parking space for guests
- What to do if you miss your parking space or other tenants occupy it
While these details may seem negligible, they often lead to unnecessary and avoidable troubles. The little things are often the ones that make your home feel ideal—or like a headache.
Read all maintenance guidelines in detail. In most lease situations, landlords provide maintenance for specific areas. Maintenance may include:
- Wall, floor, and roofing repairs
- Plumbing and electrical work
- Landscaping and exterior
Ask around and see how often maintenance is actually performed. Some building owners provide a maintenance man but the repairs only happen weeks or even months after they’re reported. Current residents can give you an idea of how often things break and how quickly everything gets fixed.
Keep in mind that older or poorly maintained properties often require more maintenance. That might mean trouble for you down the road, especially if the landlord claims that the poor maintenance is your fault when you terminate your lease.
The Bottom Line on Your Lease
When leasing a property, ensure you read all terms clearly. There are so many aspects involved in properties, and each scenario should be analyzed. This will save you from misunderstandings with property managers.