You’re ready to make a move. However, choosing the date for signing a lease can be complex. It's a combination of the time of year, the weather, when the place will be ready, when you can move in, what makes the most business sense and a number of other factors.
New construction can play a big role in when to sign a lease. Investors and other stakeholders want to see their property filled on opening day. This desire makes for a pretty sweet move-in incentive, for renters willing to commit before construction’s done. One thing to bear in mind, you’ll be signing a lease for a unit “sight unseen.” However, everything in the apartment will be brand new: you’ll be the first person to ever live there. Managers often maintain construction updates on their website, so you can watch the progress and plan your move-in date.
“Leasing season” (the busiest time of year for apartments) begins in the spring, and goes through the summer months. It's much easier to move when the weather is pleasant. This time of year also coincides with school’s end, graduations, and new jobs. If you see a unit you love, waiting to sign a lease could cost you the unit. Lots of competition out there!
What if you’re moving in the fall or winter? There may not be as many apartments to choose from, but you are more likely to meet a landlord willing to cut you a deal. Since demand is lower during the winter months, landlords are a bit more flexible, and are more willing to offer move-in incentives.
Your landlord likely hopes you move in on the first of the month. Every day that unit is empty costs money. But sometimes that’s not always feasible. He or she would rather have you there for part of the month than not at all. So, keep that in mind. If you do have to move in mid-month, make sure the landlord is willing to pro-rate your rent for you. Don't pay for days you’re not living in the home.
At first glance, this may seem pretty obvious. But having to pay rent in two places, because of an oversight on the contract, is not unheard of. Make sure you have your dates correct on your current lease, and your new lease. Be sure to give yourself some overlap time to not only move out of your current place, but to clean it up and prepare it for the move-out inspection too.
If there are still residents occupying the unit you want, a couple of factors that will affect when you can sign a new lease: their move-out date, and when the property manager says the unit will be ready for move-in. The landlord has to typically do a few things to get your home ready for you, and it can take a few days.
Lease contracts are legally binding and can be confusing. Make sure you know exactly what you’re signing before you sign. A good landlord is willing to explain to you what everything means in layman terms, but you can also consult an outside party. If you’re confused by the lease or the explanations you’re getting, consider taking the time to do this. “'I didn't know what I was signing” doesn’t cut it in court, should a conflict arise in the future.
If you’re counting on friends to move you, you shouldn’t sign a lease that starts while they’re on vacation. If you’re planning on moving in prime season (spring and summer) you might make sure you can find available movers or trucks before you sign.
Getting that new lease signed can really take a load off. It's such a relief to secure a new place. Keep in mind the many factors that determine the best time to sign a lease, and you’ll come out ahead.