Renter’s Guide: Things to Consider Before Signing

Before signing a lease, take a moment to consider the following:

  • Proximity to neighbors: are your walls shared? Can you hear your neighbors through the walls?
  • Utilities: how much do the utilities at this property cost month-to-month? Which utilities are covered in your rent?
  • Faucets, toilets, appliances, and other fixtures: does everything in the apartment work properly?
  • Windows and lighting: does your apartment get sufficient lighting?

These are just a few basic questions to ask yourself. Signing a lease is a big commitment and you don’t want to be trapped in a lease for a property that you’re unhappy with. Before signing, ask yourself these important questions our renter's guide covers. What is your budget? What is the neighborhood and neighbors like? What are the landlord policies?

What is Your Budget?

Your budget should be top of mind, you want to avoid paying more than you can realistically afford. Once you know your monthly income, calculate an amount to pay for rent. Can you afford to rent the properties you have in mind? Would you consider a roommate? Once you have the rent costs figured out, think through the expenses in your budget like car payments, student loans, grocery bills, utilities, and recreational expenses. Ideally, you'll want to be putting a little money aside for emergencies. After an honest look at a budget, can you realistically afford the monthly rent payments on the apartment you're looking at? If not, don't sign that lease.

What is the Neighborhood and Neighbors Like?

Talk to the neighbors.  Without the property manager or the landlord present, approach the neighbors and listen to their experience. Get insight into the people you're surrounding yourself with and how well the property is managed. You may discover a deal breaker. In addition, learn more about the neighborhood by visiting it at different times of the day. Give yourself a better idea of the traffic flow, safety, and noise level.

What are the Policies of the Landlord?

When you're looking at a rental property for the first time, take note of the landlord and their policies. Figure out if your landlord has someone you'll be able get along with and you agree with his or her expectations. Be sure to thoroughly read your lease before signing it and clarify any questions. Certain areas of concern such as utilities, pet policy, smoking policy, parking, and renovations may need to be discussed. It's best to avoid any misunderstandings.


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