Whether it’s your first apartment or your tenth, navigating the pages of your leasing agreement can look intimidating, yet it doesn’t have to be. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure to look over the lease carefully, so no surprises — or extra fees — come your way. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when understanding your lease:
Make sure you and your landlord are on the same page when it comes to the details of your lease. Double-check everything from your address, the duration of the lease period, monthly rent and due date, plus any extras — garage/storage fees (if any), utilities you’re responsible for, non-smoking policy, and more. Don’t be afraid to ask questions for clarity.
Even if you pay your rent on time, keep in mind the additional fees that could incur on top of your monthly rent if, for some reason, you happen to be late. Other penalty charges may include keeping trash outside your door and breaking a lease without proper notice.Make note of these additional charges so it’s not a surprise if a charge does, in fact, have to be added on.
Life happens, which means a new opportunity could take you to a new city before your lease is up. Many properties require a 30 to 60-day notice if you decide to break your lease along with a hefty penalty fee (often two to three month’s rent), as well as forfeiting your security deposit.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you decide to stay in your rental without renewing your lease, be sure you understand any month-to-month terms and additional fees involved.
Subletting can make living arrangements more flexible, especially for college students. If you think you’ll need to sublet at any point during your leasing agreement, check the property management’s subletting policy for what you can or can’t do. Do not try to work around your landlord in the event that you are not allowed to sublet—this will only cause more trouble for you in the long run.
More likely than not, you’ve had to pay a security deposit when renting. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions surrounding it — including if it’s refundable and what is needed to get it back (in full or in part) if you move out in the future.
After the lease has been signed, be sure to obtain a copy for personal records to avoid any confusion on your part or your landlord’s. Have other tips to share about leasing agreements? Share your thoughts in the comments below!