Obtain answers to important questions before signing a lease
Questions To Ask Before Signing A Lease
When moving to a new home, you might decide to rent an apartment or a house. Prior to moving all your belongings into your new home, you will need to sign a lease. A lease agreement is a contract (legal document) between you the tenant, and your landlord. It outlines the terms of the rental agreement.
Before you have reached the point to read over and sign a lease, you will probably have already checked off some boxes, such as location and the monthly rent. Lease agreements are usually for a 12-month period. Before committing yourself to a one-year binding contract, you will want some important questions answered.
1. What Are The Lease Terms?
Make sure that the duration of the lease that was verbally agreed upon is stated in the lease agreement. What happens once the lease is over? Will it continue on a month-to-month basis, or will it need to be renewed? This all has to be clearly stated in the lease agreement.
2. Will The Rent Be Pro-Rated If You Move In After The 1st Of The Month.
The rent on most rental properties is due on the first of every month. If your moving into the new home on a different date, inquire if the rent will be pro-rated for that first month. This is also the same if your lease agreement will end on a day other than the last day of the month. Pro-rated means you will only pay for the days of that month that you will legally be living in the home. If this will be your situation, make sure it is written in the lease agreement.
3. Deposit And Move In Fees
Moving into a new home usually requires the first month’s rent and a security deposit. Some rental properties will have different requirements, such as first, last and security deposit. Make sure you are clear on what the financial cost will be to move in. While Creating a Moving Budget, add in these costs. In addition to the rental fees, inquire if there are any fees such as administrative, or elevator rental that may be due prior to moving in.
4. Is The Security Deposit Refundable?
A security deposit is a payment to the landlord. It is financial protection if anything breaks or the terms of the lease/rental agreement are violated. It can be used to cover any damage, cleaning, or unpaid rent. If none of these reasons are applicable, then you should have your deposit returned. Find out before moving in and signing the lease what situations would result in you not having the deposit returned.
5. Policies On Breaking A Lease Early
Even if you do not plan to break your lease early, it’s a good idea to know and have in writing, what the policies are. Should you need to end the lease agreement early, there may be penalties.
6. How Is Rent Paid?
Each landlord or management company will have a required method of accepting the rent each month. It might need to be mailed, or dropped off to a landlord or property manager.
7. Is There A Grace Period?
Rent is commonly due on the first of every month. Check your lease to see if there’s a grace period. Three or five days is a standard timeframe given and should be written within the lease. This grace period is a window of time that the landlord will accept rent without charging a late fee.
8. Do You Need Renters Insurance?
If your lease states that you are required to have renters insurance, you will probably have to obtain and provide documentation prior to moving in. Even if renters insurance is not required, it’s not a bad thing to have.
9. Does The Rental Property Have Any Damages?
If you can view the property prior to moving in, check to make sure there is no existing damage. If there is, take pictures and show the landlord or property manager. You do not want to risk having to pay for damages that are not your responsibility.
10. What Is The Policy Of Access To The Property For Non-Tenants?
There are occasions when your rental home will need to be accessed by the landlord or maintenance professionals. Make sure your lease states that a certain amount of notice is to be given prior to the home being accessed. Each state has different laws about the amount of notice given. View your State's Law.
11. Policy On Pets
If you’re Moving with Pets into your new rental home, before signing a lease, make sure that pets are allowed and any fees or rules regarding the pets is set out clearly in the lease.
12. How Much Notice Must Be Provided When Moving Out/What Is The Renewal Process?
A tenant must give at least 30 days written notice to end the tenancy. A landlord must give at least 60 days notice, but can give less, at least 30 days. This must also be provided in writing. You can find out more by reading Ending a Lease or Rental Agreement. If you’ll want to renew your lease, inquire early on and let your landlord know. This way, you’re in a better position to remain in your rental home once your initial lease ends.
Before signing a lease, having your questions answered and outlined within the rental agreement, acts as a protection, should anything occur once you have moved in.