tenant beware - lease agreements

It may be too late already! If you have signed a lease, you are now held accountable for all that the lease stipulates. You might be thinking “yeah, that’s the reason for the lease.” But, here’s a question to ask yourself; did your landlord go through every clause in the lease with you? Do you have a clear understanding of your responsibilities as a tenant?

Many people sign leases, without gathering all the knowledge before doing so. After they enter into the contract, they often discover details unbeknownst to them.

We have provided a few details to be aware of, prior to signing a lease.

1. Rental term. How long is the rental term? If it is a one year lease like most rentals, be aware of the date you must be out of the property by when you move. There could be a gap between the time you have to move out, and the time that you’re able to move into a new rental.

2. What utilities you are responsible for. When deciding how much rent you can afford, don’t forget to take into account the cost of utilities. Ask your property manager what utilities you are responsible for, and on average how much the utilities will cost you per month based on their history.

3. Hidden fees. Often, leases have “hidden” fees that are not made clear up front. This can be anything from monthly pet fees to parking fees to damage fees. Make sure you review the lease carefully, and inquire about any fees you are not clear on.

4. Parking. You would be surprised how often parking gets overlooked before signing a lease. Ask how many parking spaces are available for your rental, where they are located and if there are any fees or special permits required. It’s also nice to know if there is visitor parking available.

5. Military clause. Should you be an active member of the military, make certain that there is a military clause in your lease. This will protect you in the event that you need to break your lease early.

6. Yard maintenance. This generally only applies if you’re renting a single family house or town home. Be aware of your duties to upkeep the yard. Will you have to mow, water plants, rake leaves, etc? If so, make sure that you’re able to do it, and factor in the extra costs it will take to perform the yard maintenance.

Before signing any lease, carefully read all of the clauses and provisions. If you don’t understand, as the property manager to explain it to you. You will find yourself saving numerous headaches in the future.