Of the more than 120 million households in the U.S., about 36% are renters. If you’re one of the 36%, you know it’s not easy finding the perfect rental.
You’ve scoured the internet, talked to all your friends, finally found the perfect place, and you’re ready to sign on the dotted line.
Hang on a second!
A rental or lease agreement is a legal commitment. Before signing a rental agreement, there are a few things you should know – so you don’t end up in a financial or legal bind.
In this article, we’ll tell you five things to review before signing a rental agreement.
1. Document the Condition of the Property
Always do a walkthrough of the property before you sign a rental agreement. Take note of any damage you see, even if it’s small. Take photos and videos to document the condition of the property.
If you don’t document this beforehand, you may get stuck paying for the previous tenant’s damages.
Check all the appliances to make sure they’re in proper working order. If they’re not, alert the landlord to the problem before you sign the rental agreement.
2. Understand the Agreement
Rental agreements don’t make for light reading, but it’s important you understand the type of tenancy contract you have before you sign. There are a few that are especially important to check.
- Note the move-in and move-out dates to be sure they’re correct
- Make sure the landlord’s and every tenant’s name is on the contract
- Take note of your obligations while you’re renting and make sure you agree
- Make sure general wear and tear of the property is included
- Check the landlord’s obligation for repairs
It’s important to know what the landlord will and won’t fix. If the washer or dryer breaks, does the landlord repair it?
Check the landlord inspection clauses. Do they make you uncomfortable? Check the law in your area and discuss the issue with your landlord before you sign.
3. What the Rent Includes
Look at the tenancy agreement small print and make sure you know what your rent payment includes. Don’t assume utilities come with the monthly rent.
Sometimes landlords charge service fees, parking fees, and even maintenance fees. You don’t want unexpected costs you can’t afford after you sign the agreement.
4. Are Roommates Okay?
You want to save money, so you’re already thinking about inviting a couple of people to share the place and the costs. Not all landlords allow roommate situations.
Talk to the landlord and include the roommates’ names on the agreement if it’s okay. If you don’t have roommates yet, get in writing that adding the names later will be fine.
5. What About the Deposit?
You’ll have to pay some sort of deposit. Make sure the agreement spells out the amount and when you’ll get it back when your lease is up.
Check the security deposit laws in your state, so you understand them. You can also learn more about rental bonds on this page.
Do These Five Things Before Signing a Rental Agreement
Be sure to do these five things before signing a rental agreement. This way, you’ll avoid any unexpected surprises and costs.
Looking for more real estate advice? There’s lots more on our blog!
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