What to check before signing a rental lease

As always, some posts on But I Want a Pony!! are partnered posts or compensated posts.

I rented most of my adult life until we bought our house just over 6 years ago. The rental market here in Denver, and in many other cities nationwide, is crazy these days. But, since many people are, and will be renting, here are some important tips to keep in mind.

What to Check for Before Signing a Rental Lease

If you’re considering a move and scouring listings for the perfect rental in this competitive housing market, you’ve likely got plenty of stress on your shoulders. However, this competition can lead to desperation, which can see smart people making less than smart choices when it comes to signing their name on that dotted lease line. If you’re not using a property manager that can take you through the process, be sure to do your research on the renting process before committing to any rental living situation.

The Issue of Renewals

If you’re signing a lease that outlines the possibility of renewal, make sure to look for a clause that allows the landlord to raise the rent a few years down the road. This has become essentially unavoidable, as inflation allows and often requires landlords to charge more as years go on, but it’s a good idea to know just how much more you’ll pay each year should you decide to stay.

Shared Utility Meters

When you’re looking through your lease, be on the lookout for shared utility meter requirements. Under certain stipulations, you might find yourself in charge of paying for the utility costs occurred by another tenant in your complex. Some states, like California, have come up with specific rules regarding a landlord’s legal right to put this provision within a lease, but it’s always a good idea to double check—after all, who wants to pay for their neighbor’s 45-minute showers?

Insurance Options

One lease provision you might find is a renter’s insurance clause, but this isn’t something to run from. Many tenants are under the impression that they’ll be covered under their landlord’s insurance should any situation come up, but this is not the case. You’ll want to find renter’s insurance that will protect you against fire, theft, and other natural disasters and ensure your personal property is covered.

Unrestricted Entry Clauses

By and large, most states require landlords to notify their tenants of an upcoming visit within a specified timeline, usually numbering around 24 hours. They must also explain their purpose for entering the home. In these states, any clause allowing for unlimited access to the house on the landlord’s part would be illegal. Check to be sure that the landlord has noted when, how, and why they can enter the home should something require their presence.

The Pet Clause

If you have any furry friends, you’re likely aware that it’s tough to find apartments that allow cats and dogs. This is especially true for situations where you plan on getting a pet after moving into the apartment or home. Make sure the lease is clear in its term about pets, and make sure the type of pet you plan on getting will fall under the allowed animals, be that by weight distinction or breed.

Personal Renovations

If you have spoken with the prospective landlord about making changes in the apartment or home, whether that be painting or any other type of alteration, make sure you get it in writing. If you don’t, you may find yourself losing a lot more of your security deposit once you move out and you might be pressed to return the home to the original condition before you moved in.

Subleasing Issues

Standardized rental leases require a landlord’s approval on subleasing tenants, so if you’re planning on leaving for months at a time (say, if you’re a college student that travels during the summer), and you want to cover your rent cost by subletting, you might be left in the lurch. If you do have a situation such as this, be sure to talk it over with the landlord before signing your name, and getting whatever the agreement is in writing.

Keeping Yourself Safe

Beyond the specific lease provisions, there are a variety of aspects to consider before going all in on a singular apartment. If the landlord doesn’t ask for references, consider it a red flag; if they don’t ask for a background check, be suspicious. On the flip side, when a prospective landlord requests personal information, be sure they’re using a certified service to screen you, like MySmartMove. Handing over your social security number without a safeguard like this in place leaves you vulnerable to identity theft and rental scams, which seem to become more common each year.

When rental browsing, keep these details in mind and be prepared to they’re using a certified.  the best of your ability before signing your name on any type of lease. While these are the common red flags to watch out for, you can always consult with legal counsel before signing your name on a binding contract.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge