5 Things to look for when signing a lease for a residential property


So most of us have been there. We have been tenants whether it was as we were growing up, in college, or later. I can bet that most of us have later asked a question of our landlord along the lines of “Hey, what is this charge for?” and been told, “oh that’s in the lease”. You didn’t know that trash service was extra each month? That’s your fault. These are things to watch out for when signing a lease and moving into a new home.


  1. Move in Fees – Usually these fees are imposed by the building you are moving into and are charged to defray the costs of changing your name on the door buzzer and in the building system, along with the costs of having someone moving into and out of the building; wear and tear. These fees should be brought up before hand and are often in the property listing, but not always.


  1. Utilities – What is your responsibility? I rented an apartment and was always trying to figure out why my water bill was so high. After months of worrying about having a leak I called the front office. They explained to me that all of the units in my building were on the same water meter and that is was just split amongst the units. I was frustrated, and not happy. I had been limiting my useage but was just finding out that I was probably paying for my neighbors excessive water use habit. When I complained I was told that it is in the lease.


  1. Move Out Procedures and Charges – It is always good to know what the owners expectations are of you on move out. Some apartments and homes have clear clauses that require professional cleaning of the unit and the carpets after each move out. You are often required to show receipts for the completed work or will be charged a penalty or the price of another vendor completing the work as well. Read these things, make notes, and make sure that you are on top of it.


  1. Administrative Fees – Not all landlords charge these, but many do. They can be called move in fees, lease preparation fees, all sorts of things, but they are still there in the contract and once you sign you are responsible for paying them. Not saying anything is wrong with the fees themselves, but it is important to educate yourself on what you will need to pay and when.


  1. Penalties – What if you end up being transferred for your job in three months? Its always smart to make sure that the penalty for breaking your lease is something you can handle. Things happen, but you are usually responsible for paying the lease in full if you move without completing your term, and your landlord will be coming after you for any losses.

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