Signing on the dotted line of a rental agreement is a major step. This is especially true if you have never rented before. Doing so comes with many responsibilities that you should understand before you commit. Here are a few things you should always consider before signing a contract with a landlord:
Know Your Maintenance Responsibilities
Always learn what is and isn’t your responsibility to upkeep or repair. You should also keep in mind which utilities are included and which you will have to provide or pay for separately. If you are not capable of performing certain types of maintenance, find a place where the landlord has that responsibility. You do not want to badger your landlord with maintenance issues that, according to the agreement of which you’ll be signing, are considered to be your responsibility.
Consider the payment terms outlined in any lease before you sign it. For example, you should know when rent is due and how much it will be. You should also consider the penalties and late fees that might be levied if rent is not paid on time. By extension, also consider what fees you may be responsible for if damages occur. Some leases outline costs to repair damages to certain items, such as windows. Finally, there may be application, move-in and other additional fees, as well as refundable deposits to pay.
Breaking the Lease
Sometimes, the unexpected happens. Whether you unexpectedly gained or lost a job or have to move, sometimes you are put in the position of having to break your lease. In rarer instances, your landlord might be the one who has to break your lease. If you are renting a house, know whether the landlord is looking to sell the property or not. Carefully read and understand the procedure for breaking a lease and what your rights and responsibilities are.
What Is or Isn’t Allowed
No matter what your priorities are, always read the fine print. For example, you might want to know what the landlord’s pet policy is before signing. Even if you do not currently have a pet, you may be interested in getting one in the future. You may want to know the rules for having friends over, what kinds of decorations are allowed or what restrictions there are on noise. If there is a problem and the agreement is broken, a civil litigation lawyer can help you.
Read the fine print and ask questions before signing. If you do, you are less likely to run into a problem with your lease agreement. Consider what you are looking for in a rental property and then take the plunge.