14 Things to Look For in an Apartment Lease

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If you’re thinking of renting an apartment, there are specific things to look for in the lease to help avoid potential problems or mis-understandings later. Here they are:

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1. Lease Term

What is the length of the lease? This should be plainly stated. The most common term is 12 months (one year), but this could vary.

Is Rent Due in advance or after

2. Rent ($)

The amount of rent you owe every month should be included in the lease; along with the utilities or any other payments you owe the landlord.

3. Security Deposit

How much security deposit do you need to pay upfront? Also, check whether there are any additional fees you owe at the start like admin fees or amenity fees.

4. Termination

If either party needs to terminate the lease for whatever reason, what is the notice period? And how does such notice need to be provided?

5. Pet Clause

Are pets allowed? This clause may only exist if there is a provision for pets in the apartment.

6. Subletting

There may be a subletting clause that either allows or prohibits it. Be sure to check this if you intend on subletting the apartment.

7. Lease Breach / Early Termination

If you breach the lease for whatever reason or need to terminate the lease early, there is likely a penalty involved. In theory, you could be held liable for all the remaining months of the lease. Find out how much the penalty is.

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8. Parking

Is parking included or do you need to pay a separate fee? Find out where your parking is and type of parking (reserved or un-reserved, covered or un-covered).

9.  Responsible Financial Parties

If you have a roommate, and one of you fails to pay, you are likely still responsible for all of the payment. This is called individual and joint responsibility.

10. Maintenance

Find out if maintenance is included in the rental cost or a separate cost? If there is an additional cost, make sure there is a clear stipulation of how much this will set you back every month.

11. Renters Insurance

Does the lease require you to purchase renters insurance? Even if it doesn’t, it is likely a good option to protect your belongings in case of an unforeseen covered situation.

12. Keys

How many keys will be given? What is the cost if you lose them? Also, as a safety consideration, ask if keys will be changed before you move in to your apartment.

13. Property Alterations

Can you make any changes or alterations to the apartment? You may only be permitted to make a small number of holes for hanging pictures and artwork but check this ahead of time.

14. Unusual Conditions

Does the lease have any unusual conditions you are not comfortable with? Be sure to check this ahead of time.

Knowing what to look for in a lease will save you a lot of potential issues in the future. These are some of the main items, but of course you should review the entire lease and make sure you understand it.


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