Finding the perfect apartment for you is an enormous feat, especially when this perfect apartment happens to also be your very first apartment. This stage in your life is a very exciting one and if you’re anything like me, it’s very easy to get caught up in the thrill of finding your new home and forget to ask the important questions! To help keep this experience worry free here is a list of 10 things you should know before signing a lease.
1. What are the specifics of your potential lease?
This first question might be an obvious one, however, it is the most important! Before you signing a lease, make sure you thoroughly read through this agreement and decide if this apartment is the one for you. Look for things such as: the length of the lease, the landlords policy on security deposit and damages, and what all is included with your rent. A lease is a binding agreement so you always want to know what you’re signing a lease!
2. Is your lease a joint-lease or an individual lease?
This tip is specifically for anyone who is not living alone ( and at our age who can afford that? ). When living with a roommate there are two common types of lease agreements you will most likely encounter. First, is an individual lease. An individual lease agreement means that you and your roommate(s) will each sign a separate lease and be responsible for your portion of the apartment. A joint-lease means that you and your roommate(s) will only sign one lease and you both will be liable for the entire apartment. In the case of a joint-lease you would end up being liable for your roommate(s) if the rent was not paid or any damages were caused and not paid. When choosing your apartment be sure to look at the type of lease agreement you are singing and make sure your roommate(s) is/are reliable.
3. Does your rent include utilities?
Another cost you should factor into your decision making is utilities! If you are lucky your apartment might come with utilities and the utility bill will be included with your monthly rent. However, the more likely scenario is that you will be on your own for utilities. In this case, it will be up to you to find different companies to supply your water, power, and internet. Keep in mind this is most likely an additional cost to your rent and the amount of money you are spending each month will go up.
4.Does your apartment come with parking?
Most apartments will come with parking and you won’t have to worry about finding a parking spot for *insert cars’ pet name here*. However, if you live in a metropolitan area like me, you probably won’t be so lucky. Maybe you hit the jackpot and get one parking spot but what about when your S.O. comes to visit or the pizza delivery guy needs to park in order to bring your pizza to the door. In this case, your best bet is to find a local parking spot at your nearby university (if you are attending one locally) or do some research on local parking companies.
5. What is your apartment’s policy on pets?
Animals are a humans best friend so you want to make sure you can bring that best friend with you to your new home! Most lease agreements will specify in the lease whether or not the apartment complex allows pets. If the complex does allow pets (fingers crossed!) the apartment complex might only allow certain types of pets and certain types of breeds and require a pet deposit that usually is around $200-$400. If your apartment does not allow pets there still might be hope. Depending on your type of pet, sometimes the leasing office will allow you to bring your best friend if you ask them.
6. Does your apartment come furnished?
Depending on your needs for your new apartment, whether your new place comes furnished or not could be a deal breaker. Furniture can be very expensive and can add a significant cost to your new place. If you are still in college it might be a better option for you to find a furnished apartment. After all, this apartment is most likely temporary and not your forever home.
7.Early signing deals
In the beginning of your apartment search, you should keep in mind the possibility of early signing deals. As an extra incentive to gain new tenants, some leasing offices will offer an early signing deal to your lease agreement if you sign in the beginning of leasing season. These deals can sometimes save you a bunch of money such as the added bonus of no security deposit or getting your apartment fully furnished for no extra cost or even both! When you are on a budget these deals can make a huge difference and even save you money on your month-to-month rent. If the apartment complex you are interested in is not advertising any early signage deals it never hurts to give the leasing office a quick call and inquire.
8. What kind of neighborhood is your apartment in?
A neighborhood can make or break your dream apartment. Before you sign your lease you should always do some research on the neighborhood of your potential home. Location is key! Check things such as where the closest grocery store is, are there any neighborhood parks, is it safe to walk around at night, and is this apartment centrally located in regards to your daily needs.
9. Reputation of the leasing office
At first glance, an apartment can seem perfect and just the right fit for you and your roommate(s). However, a horrible landlord can turn you dream apartment into your worst nightmare. Before you signing a lease agreement make sure you do some research on the leasing company. The internet is probably your best resource for this and it is as easy as just googling your potential apartment complex. Take a few minutes to read through online reviews to see what previous residents have said about living there. If you’re in a college town like me, another great resource is your classmates! Ask your friends to see if they know anything because the chances are they have probably found the same perfect apartment. If you find that your potential leasing office is known for being a problem then it is best to keep looking.
10. Can you sublease?
If you are still in college odds are you won’t be living in your apartment for the summer months. Whether it be for a summer internship, traveling home, or summer vacay you might want to sublease your apartment for the summer. However, before signing your lease you should check with the leasing office to determine the apartment’s policy on subleasing or lease exchange. Most apartments, especially in college towns, will allow subleasing and will specify their exact policy in the lease agreements. Some apartment complexes will offer both subleasing and lease exchange. Just keep in mind your plans for the summer months when searching for your new apartment and communicate your needs with the leasing office before signing a lease.