What Should I Ask Before Signing a Lease?
With all the commotion and excitement of moving into a new apartment or home, there are a few questions you shouldn’t let slip your mind before putting a final signature on that lease.
Q: Ask yourself, “What is my landlord responsible for?”
A: The landlord is usually responsible for (or you can negotiate):
- Paint, appliances (fridge, freezer, oven)
- Some utilities
- Major repairs, such as termite damage, air conditioning or mold damage
- Exterior Maintenance: Pesticide sprays, HOA and/or gardening
Q: Ask your landlordabout the previous tenants.
A: Depending on the demeanor of the landlord or what you can ascertain from the maintenance of the property, be sure to ask the landlord why the previous tenants moved out.
Here are other important questions to ask the landlord
- Is it a fixed term or a month-to-month tenancy?
- Do I have the option to extend my contract?
- Will you, the landlord, provide me with receipts for my rent? The Landlord Tenant Act REQUIRES that they provide you with a receipt for anything paid in cash, and a receipt for all other payments if requested by the tenant.
- Where and how do I pay my rent?
- What is the landlord’s notice address for repair requests and other correspondence?
- Whom do I contact in case of emergency?
- May I speak with other tenants to see how they like living in the building? (You can also research apartment buildings at Apartment Ratings or the Better Business Bureau )
- What are the nearest public transportation options?
- What is the neighborhood like –schools and grocery stores?
- Is there an on site manager? When are they available?
- Is there off-street parking availability?
- Does this lease include any rules that violate my rights under state or social laws?
- What are the “Rules of Tenancy”? (AKA quiet hours, guest policy, pets, late rent payments, etc.)
- What utilities am I responsible for?
- What is the condition of the unit?
And there’s so many more –but these are the good ones. Last but not least, for goodness sakes, READ THE LEASE. Although seemingly obvious, often times we’re in such a hurry to move in or just get the whole process over with we just “skim”the lease, and as a result we have a complete lack of understanding about which party is responsible for what. This gives you a chance to bring up anything you have questions or reserves about before you sign it. The lease is there to protect you, use it to your advantage.
Check out these other resources if you have any other questions:
Tenantsunion.org –questions to ask your landlord.