One of the easiest mistakes to make as a renter is glossing over the rental agreement before putting pen to paper. While reading the fine print before signing a lease for an apartment can be a bit daunting, it’s well worth the time and energy to know exactly what you’re agreeing to.

Knowing what things to ask before signing a lease can ensure that the entire rental process, from application to move-in, goes as smoothly as possible. Review your lease document closely and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your right to have these answers, and it should please your landlord to know that you have a firm grasp on what you’re signing.

Things To Look For In Rental Agreement

Before signing any lease, there are a few things to look for in a rental agreement. If nothing else, make sure you review for the following:

  1. Standard and Reasonable Terms. One of the most important things to look for in a rental agreement is possibly the simplest: Standard and reasonable lease terms. You don’t want to be taken advantage of. If you are renting from a reputable apartment community, this should not be the case. However, it’s important to make sure that your lease does not require anything out of the ordinary. Read the fine print!
  2. Early Termination Policy. Make sure you know the exact timeframe of your stay — and what happens if you need to break your lease early. In many scenarios, even if you move out early, you will still be responsible for your rent until your lease ends. However, some leasing contracts have early termination options that allow you to end your lease earlier than originally agreed by paying a fee.
  3. Subletting. Subletting involves temporarily renting your space to another person while keeping the lease in your name. This can help you avoid a lease break or leaving your apartment empty for months at a time. If you think you might benefit from this down the road, one of the things to look for in a lease agreement is a subletting option.
  4. Security Deposit. Before signing a lease for an apartment you’ll want to know the amount of your security deposit and what it is intended to cover upon move-out. If you are aware of what will cost you your deposit, you’ll know what to avoid while you’re living in the apartment.
  5. Late Payments and Fees. While nobody moves into a new apartment intending to pay rent late, we all know that life happens. Ask in advance what the penalty for late payments will be, and make sure that policy is outlined in the lease agreement as well. Every jurisdiction has laws regulating how much a landlord can charge for late fees. If your landlord’s penalty seems excessive, do a bit of research before you sign to make sure it’s in line with the law.
  6. Move-out Notice Procedures. We know. The last thing you’re thinking about before you’ve even moved in is moving out, but the move-out policy is another one of the most important things to look for in a lease agreement. Once you’ve decided it’s time to move on, your focus will be on your exciting next steps. It is very easy to plan for your new home without fully grasping what is expected of you at your current home. Understanding your landlord’s notice to vacate policy will prevent you from being surprised, and potentially costing you money, down the road.

Things To Ask Before Signing A Lease

Even after examining the lease, there are a few things you should ask your landlord. The answers to these questions probably won’t keep you from signing a lease for an apartment, but they will help you set expectations for the next twelve (or more) months of your life.

  • What’s the typical rent increase each year?
  • What payment methods do you accept?
  • Are pets allowed?
  • How do maintenance requests work?
  • Are utilities included?
  • Is parking included?
  • Is there public transportation nearby?
  • What amenities do you offer?
  • What is the guest policy?

These questions probably won’t be answered in the physical lease, but you can (and should!) gain clarity on them before making any long-term decisions. There’s nothing worse than being hit with a surprise one month into your year-long lease. Ask questions from the get-go to avoid issues down the line.

Signing A Lease For An Apartment Is Easy With Southern Management

At Southern Management, we’re completely transparent about our rental agreements. There are no hidden clauses or sneaky wording. In fact, we encourage our prospective residents to ask questions!

Our team is committed to help you through the leasing process and ensure that you find your dream home. To learn more, call (703) 902-9555, or contact us to set up a tour of any of our incredible apartment communities.