How to Read a Lease for Apartment

Your Apartment Lease Impacts Your Everyday Life

Let’s be honest… there are some things you don’t bother reading carefully (looking at you, microwave instruction manual!). However, your apartment lease is definitely a document you want to read carefully. It's a binding legal agreement that can affect your day-to-day life. Like personal loan contracts, living wills, liability releases, and other legal documents, lease agreements can sometimes be tough to understand. Thankfully, you don’t have to muddle through your next lease agreement alone! ApartmentSearch is here to explain the most important parts of the lease to take note of as a renter.

Start with the Key Players

The beginning of the lease will spell out the parties involved. Take note of things like the apartment management company or landlord, the address of the company or landlord, a description of the unit being rented, and your information as the renter. Make sure all of your information is correct, and save the information of the management company or landlord.

Get to Know the Lease Terms & Rent Details

Next, check out the lease term, which will change depending on your lease type. This will tell you exactly how long the lease applies – in other words, how long are you committed to staying in the unit? Breaking a lease is often an expensive process, so it’s crucial to know exactly how long you’re signing for AND what happens if you terminate early. Take note of what happens when the lease term ends. The rent details will let you know exactly how much you’re expected to pay each month, and the due date of said rent. It will also tell you how your landlord expects to receive rent (online, check, etc.).

Clarify Any Deposits or Additional Fees

How much is your security deposit? If you have pets, how much are you expected to pay for them? Also, what happens if your rent is late? Which utilities are included in your rent, and which ones will you have to pay on top of rent? Are you required to have renter’s insurance? All of these costs can add up, so highlight and underline the additional costs associated with living there.

Review the Regulations & Restrictions

Think of these as the general “rules” of living in that apartment. These might include restrictions on pets (i.e. a ban on certain breeds or sizes), on modifications to the unit (i.e. painting or putting nails in the walls), and, naturally, on the activities you can do inside the unit (i.e. smoking, hosting parties, etc.).

Don't Forget the Miscellaneous

There are a few things that should be mentioned in the lease that you may want to highlight. If they aren’t mentioned in the lease, ask your landlord about them before signing on the dotted line. For example, what is your landlord’s right of entry? If they need to enter your unit for scheduled maintenance, how much notice do they need to give you? Speaking of maintenance, which repairs and general maintenance is the landlord responsible for, and which are you responsible for? Make sure you keep a copy of your lease handy at all times so you can refer to it if you forget or need to clarify anything.

With this knowledge under your belt, it's time to find the perfect home sweet home for you. Use ApartmentSearch.com to rent your next apartment.

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