Moving to a Rental? Lease Terms to Know Before Signing

Are you moving to a residential rental home soon? Signing a lease is an essential part of that, and it’s critical for any tenant to understand what they’re signing since breaking lease terms can be costly. Also of value to consider, many leases are written to favor landlords or are just plain bad leases for tenants. Therefore, tenants should look for the following lease terms before agreeing and signing their name on the dotted line.

Rent Amount, Due Date, Late Terms, and Security

One of the first things to look for is the rental terms. Ensure that the amount stated is initially agreed upon and that you don’t find any surprises or extra fees that might pop up. In addition to monthly rent, look to see the due date (these frequently vary according to move-in date or landlord preferences) and what happens if payments are made late.

Some landlords are generous about grace periods for lateness, but others are pretty stringent and charge hefty fees. Landlords also usually request a security payment that equals one month’s rent; however, some collect the first and last month’s rent while others choose a different method of collecting security.

Manager of Rental Property

When reviewing the lease, check to ensure a direct person to contact if any problems arise. Is there a name, address, and phone number associated with the person to contact if there are questions, concerns, breakages, or other problems? No one wants to rent from a phantom landlord or deal with an absentee property manager, especially when something goes wrong.

Specific Rules Associated With the Home

Landlords often have specific rules associated with their properties – before signing, be sure any rules are reasonable and something that you can live with.

  • Pets – Furry pals may or may not be allowed, and it’s common for owners to charge additional fees for pets.
  • Subletting Rules – Tenants deciding to move before the lease is up, needing to travel extensively, or are otherwise away for a while often sublet to other tenants to cover rent payments—check to see if this is allowed.
  • Utilities – Tenants should know from the start which utilities they’re responsible for and which ones are covered in the rent. Utility policies vary from property to property, so don’t assume that landlord pays for everything.
  • Maintenance Responsibilities – Landlords might take on maintenance, but sometimes specific tasks are deemed tenant responsibilities, such as mowing lawns, shoveling snow, replacing lightbulbs, or maintaining HVAC systems.
  • Guests – Most landlords don’t object to guests visiting, but you should clarify how long they can stay. For example, if someone stays for a month, they may be viewed as a part-time roommate; many landlords limit the length of guest stays.
  • Renters insurance – It’s usually good to maintain renters insurance since landlord policies don’t cover belongings, only the structure. Furthermore, some owners won’t rent to people unless they have a rental insurance policy.

These and other terms, such as quiet hours, should always be understood, so rules aren’t accidentally broken, fees incurred, or legal proceedings initiated.

Moving Made Easy

These days it’s common for people to rush through legal agreements, especially digital forms, quickly. As a result, leases are one area you want to be very careful about and read thoroughly. The details in the fine print initially missed could become problematic down the road.

Are you getting ready for a move? Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer, along with a free quote!


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