Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What to ask before signing a lease

The perfect place may be just a signature away, but before you sign on the dotted line you need to be well informed.

How much is rent? It may seem like an obvious question, but it's important to have it down in writing to prevent unforeseen hikes in rent.

Be sure to ask your landlord the following questions at the very least: 

1. How much is the rent?

It may seem like an obvious question, but it's important to have it down in writing to prevent unforeseen hikes in rent. Make sure the contract stipulates how much rent will be on a monthly basis, and whether there are any conditions that might see the rent changing. 

Also check for any hidden fees: Are utilities included in the price of the rent? Are there any surcharges for contract violations? Is there anything that may force you to pay extra? Read the contract thoroughly to ensure you have all your bases covered. 

2. What are the terms of the lease?

This question can cover a vast number of details about the lease, such as how often rent is to be paid, how long the lease lasts and whether the lease is month-to-month or long term.

Will the lease agreement change after a fixed amount of time? It's common to see a one year lease turn into a month-to-month arrangement after the initial year of rental. Be sure to keep this in mind to keep a roof over your head, and to keep from breaking the lease as this could affect your future leases as well. 

3. What is the role of the landlord?

Generally, your landlord is responsible for maintenance and repair of the property they're leasing to you. But these terms may change depending on what's written in your lease. Some landlords may outright refuse to let tenants do any maintenance for fear of lawsuits or poor work, others may only be responsible for large-scale maintenance projects while leaving small repairs to the tenant.

Find out when you can contact your landlord, will they be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or do they maintain normal business hours? Establish what best suits your needs and you're more likely to find a landlord you can work well with. 


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