What to look for in your lease
Besides the features you must have and the amenities you’d like to have, you’ll need to take a close look at your lease to see what your obligations will be, and what you can expect from the property owner.
- When is the rent due, who do you pay it to, and where?
- Are there late charges if you don’t pay the rent on time? How much are they, and when do they first apply?
- How much advance notice must you give before moving at the end of your lease term? Thirty days written notice used to be the norm when rent is paid monthly, but some properties now require 60 days notice.
- What will you be responsible for if you need to move out before the end of your lease term? Does this include paying back the difference between the market rental rate an any special rate you may have received?
- Can you have roommates, and what are the property’s policies toward roommates?
- What restrictions, if any, will affect your security deposit refund?
- What are the property owner’s obligations to make needed repairs? A requirement for diligence is common.
- How should you request repairs? You may be asked or required to make all repair requests in writing. Even if it’s not required, it’s a good idea to put all requests in writing.
- What does the rent include? Any furniture? Utilities? Parking? Amenities?
- Are there any instructions for cleaning the apartment when you move? Cleaning costs usually can be deducted from your security deposit if you fail to follow instructions.
- Are there prohibitions against subletting or keeping animals? Written permission is usually required. Also, there is usually an extra deposit for animals.