Tips for Renters Before Signing a Lease

Whether you are renting month to month or yearly you should check the lease carefully before you sign. Things some landlords try to rope you in on could get you into a lot of trouble.

Some common sense could go hand in hand with this. If you don’t know the guy your are leasing from you should check him out. Yes, the road goes both ways here.

Don’t sign that lease when he wants you to, sign it after you check him out with the city or county you are looking to rent in. This will turn up any complaints people have registered with him about problems he might have being a landlord. If he has had complaints that are too far out for you to trust, then don’t.

If the clerk you go to and ask knows the guy because of all the complaints, that’s a big red flag for you. Go to the city hall and ask from the building codes and inspections if they have any problems with his properties. They should be able to tell you if he is overly a problem with them, tell them you are thinking of renting from him and is there a large number of problems with him.

If you explain to them, they will be able to help you out with general things like if he has a large number of complaints, they may not get specific but all you want is generals.

The dates you are moving in and any dates for things in the future need to be clear on the lease. If your are moving in and the rent is paid on a specific date this should be clear on the lease. Any late charges should also be there.

You need to get the exact amount of rent, deposit and any other payment for the property that you are responsible for. You want to have what you pay him for moving in clearly spelled out on the lease so you can know how much you have to hand him to move in.

This needs to be written because you want to be clear on how much is owed before taking the property, and then when you do pay him get a receipt. If it is a check, then the bank will get the check as one, but if it is in cash, get a receipt every time.
Before you move in find out all the utilities that are used on the premises and who pays them. If he says you have to pay everything then you need not worry about getting it written down, but if he says something like the gas, electric or water is to be paid by him, then it should be on the lease. You want any promises he makes about the property or payments about the property to be in writing.

If you have any pets you should get prior approval in writing that you can have them on the lease. This can be a hard point to nail down after the fact when he tries to kick you out for Fido’s sake.

Even if you don’t have pets, think about having that on the lease. Ask if you can and if you can, get it in writing if it is something you think you want in the future. There is always room for more writing on the back of a lease, and all you have to do is add it on and get the part added signed by both you and the landlord.

Then when you look at the lease there are things on it that should be there. One thing is who are you really leasing from. Does he own the property or is it in someone else’s name on the lease. The person you are dealing with should be the one on the lease.

Whether it is a month to month or yearly have it spelled out on the lease how long you have to give before moving out. This can be a real big point with trying to move out, have it clearly on the lease if you have a month or week to give notice, if it is not there ask to write it in on the bottom, and if they don’t then you should go elsewhere to rent.

There should be a small list of the major appliances on the lease, so if they try to say that the fridge was there and it wasn’t you have some kind of proof. Things like any major repairs or damage should be included when you look at the place and he wants you to sign. This is important for when you move out. If you notice damage and he says not to worry about it, think about the time when he will say the same thing only in reverse. You say but it was there and he says worry about it.

If you have it in writing there is no worry. You should have amenities that are included with the property written in on the lease such as use of parking spots, garages, or yards. If it is your responsibility to mow or take care of the yard and lawn then you don’t need to worry about having that in writing, but if he says he will handle yard work or if you have a garage or other building available for your use it should be on the lease.

After you talk and sign is a bad time to try to get things worked out that is not in writing. You should think before you sign. When you meet him, you should ask for a copy of the contract or lease he wants you to sign and take it with you as you think about the rental. It should be the same as the one you do sign, check when he has you sign it that he did not add anything in on you.

Even if it is that perfect place, you should think about what you are doing outside of his presence. This will give you a minute to gather your thoughts and look at the lease he wants you to sign. When you sign, read carefully and if you don’t understand something don’t sign.

A lease is a simple contract that is pretty straight forward. It should be a simple thing, not some lawyerly document with small writing. Don’t sign if you don’t understand.

And when you do sign get a copy right away, even if you are out at the property. Take it or follow him somewhere to get a copy. Don’t wait to get one. You should be careful when you sign a lease. If anything is troubling you abut it, then wait. It is easier to find out before hand from someone who can help than after and have to pay for the mistake.

Before you sign a lease you can ask a lawyer about it. There should be small lawyers who will quickly glance at a lease and will tell you if it is okay. They won’t charge just to look at it for a minute. If they want to, go to another. You should be able to find one who will help you out.

And last but not lease, there is the internet. You can always Google the landlords name or his business and see what turns up.

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