You’ve found a perfect rental apartment. Before you commit to signing that rental lease, be wary of what you involve yourself in. This is what you should know before signing the lease.
It’s a common mistake to sign a lease agreement on a new residential apartment while overlooking most of its legal provisions or related issues. As a tenant, you might think they don’t matter because it’s probably a short-term engagement. But any provision that you overlook could be a major pitfall later.
For this reason, here are three things you should be aware of before signing a lease.
- The essentials
- Lease renewal policies and clauses
Always make sure the rent amount agreed upon appears in the lease, with an accurate start and end date. Confirm whether the address and apartment number are accurate. Check the rent due date each month. Ensure the security deposit amount is accurate.
Tenants are mostly in a hurry, and mistakes happen. You should check the provision of a break clause. Landlords are required by law to re-rent your apartment in case you leave mid-way.
You should ensure the property’s conditions is well documented. It’s your responsibility to ensure everything in the home works. Check for any pre-existing damages and note down all deficiencies so you won’t be charged during your exit.
Lease renewal policies and clauses
In case your lease renews for one or more years, you should check for an escalation clause. It raises the rent in subsequent years at a fixed dollar rate per year. As a tenant, you should be wary of such a provision. The first year of your lease goes by very quickly. Therefore, it would be best if you negotiated with the landlord to raise the increase for the second or third year.
In most states, the landlord is required by law to give advance notice to tenants for an increase in rent above 5 percent or if they’re not willing to renew the tenant’s lease.
A tenant must review the renewal terms carefully. If, for example, you need to give a 90 days renewal notice through certified mail, calling your landlord and telling them you desire to renew won’t cut it.
The landlord’s apartment insurance does not, despite many people’s beliefs, cover the tenant. The tenant is solely responsible for ensuring their property against fire, damage, and theft. The tenant should also have personal liability coverage to protect them in case they are sued for negligence. An example is a fire that destroys part of a building or a bathtub overflowing and damaging other units below them.
It’s especially paramount to have insurance if you are renting from a condominium or a cooperative owner. Such buildings mostly have rules on insurance coverage, and while the landlord’s policy might insure some things, they likely won’t cover personal possessions.
Most lease agreement arrangements work out as planned most of the time. But you have a better chance of enjoying a peaceful tenancy and a graceful exit if you understand what to look for before signing the lease agreement and occupying the apartment.
Have you ever suffered because you read your lease blindly?
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