When you find that perfect home, your first instinct may be to sign the lease as quickly as possible. But, before you sign a lease, be sure to review these points.
Finding a new home can be a stressful part of your move and typically one that you want to settle as soon as possible. However, don’t let your desire to get settled quickly result in overlooking contract with provisions that you will need to deal with for the rest of your lease.
What exactly does the lease say?
Contracts and legalese can be tough to read through, but it’s a necessary evil. Take the time to read every word of the lease you are preparing to sign and make sure that you understand each section, this is time well spent. If there is anything in the lease that doesn’t reflect something you have verbally arranged with your landlord/property manager, do not sign until you have the change in writing. If there is any part you don’t understand or that isn’t clear, get clarification before signing.
Does the neighborhood meet my needs?
Be sure to do your due diligence. If you visited your new home in person, it was likely done during the day. Before you sign your lease, consider checking out the neighborhood after dark – especially on a weekend night. Is it loud? Does a nearby hospital or police station mean you’ll be hearing sirens at night? Are there street lights? Commute times during your typical travel times. Be sure that you research the area carefully so there are no surprises when you move in.
What needs to be in writing?
Everything! Bottom line, if a provision is not in writing don’t expect it to be enforced. A good rental lease agreement should clearly outline all provisions, and if it doesn’t ask for the contract to be revised to include any missing provisions. If you discuss any special arrangements with your landlord, they need to be in writing so that expectations are clear for everyone.
What do others say about your landlord/property manager?
Do a quick Google search on the person or agency you will renting from. Just remember to take any online postings with a grain of salt – people don’t need proof to post negative reviews online. But, it does give you an indication of areas that you may want to be sure to clarify regarding things like expenses or maintenance requests.
Who will handle emergencies?
Don’t sign a lease without establishing a firm policy on how to handle maintenance emergencies. Are you authorized to initiate any repairs on your own? What exactly are you responsible for and what will your landlord handle? Again, this is one area that needs to be crystal clear before you sign to avoid unwelcome (and potentially expensive) surprises during your stay!