6 Things to Check Before Signing a Rental Lease.

McKenzie Kuhn Spending Money 39 Comments

Ah renting, (pause for dramatic effect) a time that can be stressful and nerve racking. That’s why I’m here to take some of that stress away.  Over the next couple weeks, I will be in the process of moving to a different apartment. I thought it appropriate to write about all the things I wish I knew to do before I moved into my last place. Here is a list of 6 things to look for or ask about before signing the lease.

#1. Ask When the Place was Last Inspected.

Home Inspections | www.nar.realtor

This simple question can save you so much trouble in the future. Most landlords will fix almost everything while you live there, but just in case you have a landlord who isn’t around a lot or to save you from getting blamed for something that’s not your fault, it’s good to ask. Better safe than sorry right? Landlords usually have places inspected once a year, some even twice, so if they say it’s been longer than a year, insist they get the place inspected again.

#2. Check the Water/ Water Pressure.

Instead of finding out after you move in that your shower will only work normally half the time and the other half be scalding hot, check the water, especially in the shower. Sadly, this is what happened to me. When I asked the maintenance man to come fix it, he just said that it happens to him too and to try a simple fix he gave me. Unsurprisingly, the fix only worked half the time. It might seem awkward or imposing, but looking at things like that will actually show the landlord that you know what you are doing and make you seem more confident.

#3. Check the Cell Phone Reception.

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Although I haven’t had any trouble with this personally, I do have friends that, where they live, they need WIFI or they aren’t able to use your phone. This might not seem like a huge deal, but you’re going to want it when you’re waiting for your internet to be set up or when your WIFI gets slow from having too many people on it. Phones have become such a huge part of our lives and although I’m sure many don’t want to admit it, we can go a little crazy if there is no signal. 

#4. Take a Picture of Any Imperfections.

This can be done before or after you move in. If done after you move in, do it on the day of. Taking a picture of any knicks in the wall or ceiling, cracks in the flooring, or stains on a carpet will prove that they were there before you came in. It will save you from getting blamed for anything and they can’t make you pay for any damages.

#5. Make sure you’ll be able to afford EVERYTHING. 

If it’s your first time renting, you might not realize how many factors go into having a place to live. If you have already rented, this is a good reminder. Most places, when they tell you how much rent is, don’t include utilities. On top of that, you might have to pay maintenance, common area, and/or parking fees. Then you’ll have to pay for internet, sometimes electricity (if not included in the utilities), and maybe even a package handling fee. 

Now all of this can sound pretty scary and intimidating, however it doesn’t have to be if you think about it all beforehand. Instead of getting blind sided by the bill, ask about exactly what fees there are and if your landlord is responsible for paying any. The prices of everything can vary depending where you live, how your landlord manages things, and if you have a roommate or not. For me, utilities, including electricity, was an extra $70. Some people might be paying more or some less, just make sure you know exactly how much you will be paying in order to set an accurate budget.

#6. Check the Lease.

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Lease agreements can be quite long and not very fun to read, but your future self will be thanking you. It is a very good thing to know all the ins and outs of your contract. This way, if you’re late paying rent, you know exactly if there’s a late fee and how it will be handled. You’ll know how long of a notice you need to give before moving out and you’ll know exactly what your landlord is responsible for. This means, you will know if someone is trying to pull one over on you.  It might seem very tedious, however it’s probably the most important thing to do when renting.

There are so many more things that can be helpful to look at or know before renting. If you want to see a part 2 to this, please let us know in the comments or by contacting us on social media. Also, if you have any questions feel free to reach out. I hope these tips have saved you some future trouble!

Comments 39

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  1. What fantastic advice. Every one renting for the first time should read this… especially young adults just starting out!

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      Thanks! I’m glad you think so. If you’d like to subscribe, you’ll be first to know when part 2 comes out.

  2. Great advice! Renting is a great way to save time on fixing things, but when you get blamed it can be rough and affect your credit and rent reports!

  3. As a landlord, I agree with this! There is nothing more important than taking photos and writing down all of the little things that are wrong with the property. I just had someone lose their deposit because she could not prove with her list or photos she never sent in that she did not crack the tiles on the floor.

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  4. Great tips! I live in Southern California, so I think I will have to rent for the rest of my life unless half a million dollars drops into my lap. The apartment I’m in now, my roommates did everything and I just moved in, but now that they’re gone and I’m here with my husband, we’re hoping to upgrade sometime in the next couple years. Luckily he has much more experience in this.

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  5. I think many people sign these agreements not knowing that certain things can be negotiated. As an attorney, I am of the mindset that all things can, but that is a story for a different day. LOL. Great tips!

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  6. I never would have thought about checking the water or my cell reception. Which is odd because I’m practically glued to my phone. Thanks for giving me these simple tips. They will come in handy!

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      Sometimes, they are not easy lessons to learn. I hope this will help someone avoid learning them the hard way.

  7. My brother is recently divorced and is trying to decide whether or not to rent a house or buy another one. This will be helpful for him if he decides to rent.

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      I’m so happy this might help him! If you’d like to subscribe, you’ll be the first to know when part 2 comes out.

  8. Very good article! There are so many things you are thinking about during the time of renting, this includes something I would have never thought of at the time! Good read! Thank You!

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  9. Very helpful information. I once rented a place not thinking about the utilities too much because heat was included. However, electric and water were not and they were really high! After a year I moved out!!!

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      It’s crazy how much they can add up, especially if you’re not aware of how much utilities can cost. The plus side is that then you knew what to look at in your next place.

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  10. I’m glad I had help navigating the rental process when I was younger. Now I’m trying to help my daughter with her first rental. Sadly, she is moving to Hawaii and can’t really research the place ahead of time. She has to go with the word of the landlord. We did tell her to take pictures upon moving in, though. Especially since she’s renting it as furnished.

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      It’s always a great idea to take pictures! Moving without seeing a place can be really hard, I’ve had to do it too. Make sure she’s not afraid to ask the landlord as many questions as she needs to, so she can feel comfortable choosing a place.

  11. Great tips! I haven’t rented in so long. There are so many things that we need to think about now that I would never consider.

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