Before You Sign a Lease, Ask These Important Questions First

After what probably feels like months of looking for a new place to live, you are most likely thrilled when you finally find The One. It’s close to work, it’s in an area of town that you love, and it will serve as a wonderful home for you and your family. The fact that you have actually found a place you love and can afford can be truly exciting. But before your excitement takes over and you sign a rental lease, be sure to ask these important questions first!

When is the rent due?

This is one of the most important questions you should ask before signing a lease. Rent is generally due on the first of each month. However, many landlords give you a few days grace, allowing it to be paid a few days later, such as on the third or fifth of each month. While some property managers are laid back about late payments, some are very strict – charging you late fees or even evicting you if it happens more than once. Late fees can be awful, and an eviction is even worse, so be sure to find out the exact date the rent is due and be sure it is stated on your lease agreement.

How long is the lease?

You’ll find that most rental leases run for 12 months then expire. At this point, you are required to either sign a new lease or move out. But it is important to know that there is a wide variety of leases with differing lengths of time required. This is why you should ask when your lease expires before ever signing it. Along with this question, you should also find out if the lease will automatically renew or convert to a month-by-month tenancy. Most landlords or property managers will contact you prior to your lease ending in order to find out what your intentions are, but it is best to know how long your lease lasts before ever moving in so you understand your living circumstances well.

How do I document previous property damage?

Before you move into your rental property, your landlord will most likely be handling any damages that the previous tenant(s) inflicted upon the space – stained carpets, scarred or dirty walls, etc. But some damages to the property may be overlooked. When the day comes for you to move out, you don’t want to be held responsible for damages you didn’t cause. No way! This is why it is important to document any problems before moving in. There are several things you should check:

  • Functionality of electrical outlets
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Heating and air-conditioning systems

If you find any problems, be sure they are included in the lease agreement before signing it.

Is anything included?

When you rent a house or apartment, you expect to pay a monthly fee to live there. But it is unwise to assume that anything else is included in the rent. Trash pickup and parking, for instance, may have been included in the rent at your previous location, but that doesn’t mean they will be at your new home. So ask your landlord about what – if anything – is included prior to signing the lease.

Is there an eviction policy?

This question may make you feel as though you are labeling yourself a troublemaker, but it is actually a common and worthwhile thing to ask. When renting, it is important you and your landlord are on the same page. This eliminates any miscommunications or negative feelings toward one another. If your landlord prohibits anything specific – pets, loud parties, smoking inside or out, etc. – it is important to be aware of these things so you don’t get evicted because you broke certain rules.

Can I make improvements?

When you move to a new place, there are going to be certain things you just don’t like. For example, you may hate the faucets in the bathroom sink or wish to paint one of the bedrooms a different color. When owning a home, you have the privilege of making whatever improvements you want. But when renting, the ball isn’t totally in your court. Before moving in, it’s a good idea to ask your landlord if you are allowed to make changes to the property and if they are willing to pay for them. While some landlords may welcome the offer, some will be much more hesitant and say no. Either way, it is important to know their answer ahead of time and to have it documented in the lease.

Do you know of other important questions one should ask before signing on the dotted line? Help out your fellow movers and state them in the comments sections!

Must-Know Tips When Moving into an Apartment

Deciding on a new place to live can be tough. House or apartment? One bedroom or two? City or suburbs? The possibilities are endless. If you’re considering moving into an apartment, there are a number of essential things to assess before making the big leap. For a successful apartment move, here are some must-know tips.

Choose an apartment based on your lifestyle. Choosing an apartment to live in involves much more than looking for big bedrooms and a nice layout – it also means taking numerous things into consideration, like location, convenience and even the neighbors. Moving into an apartment only to find out that it doesn’t meet your needs or lifestyle can be problematic. To avoid a potential nightmare of choosing the wrong place to live, always research all of your options, and be cautious when making a final decision.

Inspect and document pre-existing damage. Whether you purchased an apartment or are simply renting one, moving to a new residence that’s in need of repairs is going to be a burden to deal with. If you bought an apartment, it’s important to be aware of any issues that will need to be fixed quickly after moving in. This will allow you to plan ahead and create a budget.

If you are renting an apartment, be sure to inspect it carefully for any problems, and document any pre-existing damage. Not only will this provide you with a list of needs to give your landlord, but it will also provide evidence of the initial condition of the property so you won’t be held responsible for damages when the time comes to move out.

Understand your lease. When given a wordy document to read, like a lease, many just skim and sign where required. Unfortunately, not reading the fine print can lead to potential problems, so take the time to read your lease thoroughly. Sit down with your landlord and go over all terms and conditions. Discuss any clauses you fail to comprehend or terms you are uncomfortable with. Also ask about important issues, such as:

  • Available storage
  • Available parking spaces
  • Trash disposal location, dates and times
  • Maintenance hours

It’s also important to find out about any specific conditions that may cause the rent to increase, if there are extra fees for late payments, and if there are any penalties for breaking a lease early.

Assess the layout. Before moving into your new apartment, you want to assess the layout (and take measurements!) so you will know what belongings to pack and bring with you come moving day. This is an especially important step if you are moving to a smaller place. If you want to keep some of your belongings, but there’s just not enough space, knowing the exact dimensions of your new apartment will let you know which belongings you’ll need to move to a storage unit.

Coordinate deliveries. No, we’re not talking about pizza deliveries – although you will probably do a lot of those after you move in. What we are actually talking about here is furniture deliveries (or other large items). Some apartment buildings have strict rules about what days or times you can move in – this includes big deliveries, like a truck full of furniture. Before you assume any day or time is fair game, check with your landlord first. This will help you better arrange move-in times and deliveries so everything can be brought into your new place at the same time.

Learn the rules. Most apartments come with a set of rules to follow. Some may include:

  • Moving and parking fees
  • Pre-defined moving times
  • Elevator deposits
  • Accessibility of elevators/freight elevators
  • Cleaning requirements
  • Pet restrictions
  • Renovation projects
  • Safety regulations

Take care of paperwork. There is a lot of paperwork to take care of when moving, like changing your address with the post office, updating your car’s registration and insurance, voter’s registrations, etc. Handling these things before your move is ideal, but if you can’t tackle it ahead of time, just be sure you do it quickly after moving in. Some of these things may require you to take care of them within a specific deadline, and if you put it off for too long, you may have to pay a fine.

Prepare for emergencies. In the events of a disaster (fire, earthquake, etc.), exiting an apartment is much more difficult than getting out of a house. This being said, it is very important to learn the quickest and safest escape route, along with safe areas nearby to take shelter. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit strategically placed in your apartment in case of emergencies. Be sure to store a list of emergency numbers in your phone as well as place a written list of these numbers inside your emergency kit.

Moving into an apartment may seem difficult, but with these must-know tips, you can turn a stressful situation into a successful one. For more moving tips and tricks, ABC Movers is your number one source!