13 Questions to Ask Before Signing the Lease

Signing lease

Whether it’s your first time signing a lease, or you are an apartment hardened veteran, we can all make mistakes when it comes to leases.  Not reading the entire document is the easiest way to get hammered into a position you cannot legally get out of without paying up.  Shady places all over are betting you won’t read the lease, and when they review it with you they happen to skim over the ugly details.  Prepare yourself!  Here are some tips for the unwary and tl;dr millennials out there.

1. Read the entire lease!!

This is obvious, but it’s also the most important.  If you simply do this and question anything you don’t understand and keep any verbal promises in writing, you don’t have to worry about anything else.  Alas however, most of us won’t do this, so keep reading to save some time.

2. Confirm pet policies

Over 70% of renters have pets, therefore the upcharge for them, the amount allowed, weights, breeds etc is very important.  If you decide to lie to your apartment complex about how many pets or of what type you own, you are taking a risk you could be evicted or fined heavily.  Make sure to read the details of the pet policy!

3. Auto renewal / Length of rent

It’s rare, but some apartments will lock you into another year lease if you don’t submit to them your intentions to leave.  The window for the autorenew clause can vary, but is usually 30 days before the end of your lease.  You can often go month to month after your lease also, make sure to ask about that option if that appeals to you.

4. Cost to break lease

If you are buying a home, many apartments will give you a discount to break your lease.  They can also oftentimes charge you for the remaining months, and impact your credit standing if you break.  If you think you might move, make sure to get this policy in writing.  You can also usually pay more monthly to get a month to month rent price instead if you coordinate it up front.

5. Hanging up artwork, painting walls, etc

It’s pretty standard to be able to hang stuff on the wall, but you could be living in a brick building where things are a lot more permanent, and the landlord doesn’t want things going up.  Either way, just another thing to check.

6. Get promises in writing

Mentioned in the first paragraph but worth it’s own.  Anything verbally agreed upon can often disappear when the time comes to redeem it.  Don’t miss out on that free first month of rent or the ok to have a 70lb dog.  Better to know up front that you are going to get screwed than after you give your deposit.

7. Utilities / Amenities

Many apartments include something, and they’ll usually brag about it, but just in case they don’t, ask.  The cost of water, sewer, cable, electricity, internet etc should be factored into your decision when comparing places to live.

8. Maintenance

In Florida having he air conditioner break in summer constitutes an emergency, no exceptions.  Pipes leaking on your floor is another biggie that happens often.  Most places are good about covering these calls and having a fast response time, but not all.  Make sure to ask what the after hours availability is.

9. Notice before an inspection

Last thing you want is to work from home and have maintenance barging in to check the fire alarm when you are in the middle of a presentation.  The knock knock use their own key approach is pretty common.  Make sure to set the ground rules for your place before you move in.

10. Guest Policy

It’s common to have a policy against too many people staying in your apartment based on the size.  The last thing they want is a family of 8 living in a 2 bedroom taking up all the parking spots, and making it extra noisy for everyone else.  If that happens to be your situation, make sure you don’t get evicted if there is a clause in the terms & conditions.

11. How is the apartment prepared before I move in?

Do they paint the walls?  Change the carpet?  What about those broken blinds?  Make your demands now before you move in.  After they have you signed up, your bargaining power is gone.

12. Nearby construction? Traffic nearby?

The 6am daily renovation project across the hall might be a consideration for you if you thought to ask.  Also, do the school busses pile in at 3:00 every day and add an extra 20 minutes to your commute?

13. Document any damage / Security deposit

Last but not least, and one of the most obvious, make sure to take notes/pictures of any damage before you move in.  Just like renting a car, you don’t want to get blamed for that drunk guy who drove your Ford Focus before you and got sick in the glove box.


Thanks for checking out the blog.  As always, if you need to find a roommate near you, make sure to visit us at RooomateFilter.com.  You can easily find a roommate online using our free website.  Try finding someone you truly get along with, and take the random out of roommates!

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