If you’ve decided to move into a rental property or apartment, you will likely be required by your landlord to sign a lease. A lease is a contract that outlines terms in which one party agrees to rent property owned by another. It guarantees the tenant use of an asset and guarantees the landlord regular payments for a specified period in exchange. Both the tenant and the landlord face consequences if they fail to uphold the terms of the lease. So it is of utmost importance you understand what you’re signing.
Before signing a lease, you should review it carefully in detail, and ask any questions you have about the property. Once your signature is on the paper, you’re stuck with everything the lease says – including any fine print! If there are any sections of the lease that you object to, ask your landlord about compromising. Make sure that they have been changed on the lease before you sign, and that you both initial the changes.
When it comes to asking questions about the property you will be living in, it is important to keep in mind the following questions. Sit down with your landlord and have a full discussion regarding any questions or concerns you have.
13 Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease:
- When is the rent due?
- How do you pay the rent (cheque, automatic debits, online, etc.)?
- What is the length of the lease (yearly or month-to-month)?
- How often can the rent be raised?
- Who should be called for maintenance issues?
- Is renters insurance required (even if it’s not – get it anyway!)?
- If needed, is subletting allowed?
- Are pet deposits refundable?
- How much notice is required before moving out?
- How much notice will you receive before a landlord enters your apartment?
- Who is responsible for the lawn mowing or snow removal?
- What utilities are included in the rent?
- For utilities that aren’t included in the rent, what is the average for the building?
In my first apartment, I was young and naive, and didn’t get everything in writing. This was a big mistake. My landlord was telling me what he “thought” was right, but wasn’t the leasing agents procedures. I’m sure he didn’t mean any harm by it, but it ended up costing me a few hundred dollars in the end. My best advice would be to go in with these questions on paper, and write the answers down with your landlord. Then, have both of your signatures on the paper for proof if any discrepancies occur later on.