Signing Your Apartment Lease: The Basics



When your eyes peer over a lease for the first time before signing it, you tense up not wanting to miss any of the fine print. Leases can be similar, but they can also be very, very different.

Apartment leases must abide by state or local laws that govern both the resident’s and the landlord/management companies rights. These can include regulations on security deposit limits, the eviction process and what happens when a lease is broken.

Although lease may vary here and there, there are a few things that should be included in every lease. So when you go into that leasing office to sign the lease for your new apartment, be sure to keep the following things in mind to make sure you take a good look at before you put your signature on that dotted line.

Names– I don’t care if your best friend, cousin, girlfriend, or mother is living with you. If they are over 18, they need to have their name on the lease. If they live there and mess up the apartment, but the lease is only in your name…it all will fall down on you! And just because you can trust someone, doesn’t mean that they job is trusting of them.

Your New Home– The exact address and unit number should be indicated on the lease. If not, you need to make sure it is…you don’t want to sign for one apartment and turn around and they give you a different one.

Rent– Another thing that better be on there is rent. If the rent isn’t indicated on the lease…you make them write it in there immediately. There should be no confusion or discrepancies on what you are going to be paying for your new home each month.

Dates– Also, your start and end dates of the lease should be indicated as well as what happens after your lease expiration, the cost of going month to month, and what your penalty is for breaking your lease. The dates should also show you when your rent is due each month, when it is considered late and how much the fee is for paying rent late.

You should also take note of policies on visitors, parking, subletting, repairs, renters insurance, and on pets. On top of that be sure to check for signatures on all pages and most importantly…read everything! If they try to rush you into signing without reading carefully, (which they shouldn’t) you should just tell them politely that you would like to read everything that you are signing.

The lease is LONG and COMPLEX, so don’t get discouraged. Just think about the light at the end of the tunnel and having your new awesome place and you will pull through!

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