4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Signing Your Apartment Lease

Renting a new apartment can be as overwhelming as it is exciting. You’re starting a new chapter in your life, and you can’t wait to find a place to call home. But before you sign an apartment lease, make sure you understand all the details. Whether you need a long-term or a short-term apartment lease, don’t sign anything until you learn the answers to these important questions.

1. What Is Included in the Lease?

It’s important to understand all the components of an apartment lease before signing. This document should list the length of the lease, the monthly rental amount and payment policy, and all expenses covered by the landlord, such as electricity, gas, water, garbage, internet, and cable. A lease should also include these items:

  • Security deposit amount and what it covers
  • Terms for ending the lease
  • Rules for roommates and subletting
  • Decorating, smoking, and pet policies
  • Instructions regarding keys
  • Expectations about yard maintenance and snow removal

2. Have You Considered Your Budget?

When it comes to setting a monthly budget, many experts recommend allotting no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income to housing. Therefore, if your gross monthly pay is $3,000, your rent should be around $1,000 per month. If you want to exceed this amount, then there are several things you can do:

  • Find an apartment with multiple bedrooms and get one or more roommates.
  • Save on gas by walking to work or taking public transportation.
  • Choose an apartment that offers paid utilities.
  • Forego extra expenses you can live without (cable TV, gym membership, etc.).

3. Does the Property Look Well-Maintained?  

In most parts of the country, landlords are required to provide habitable apartments where everything is in good working order. To make sure an apartment is well-maintained, go on a walkthrough with the landlord before signing your lease. Make sure you also perform another run-through after renting the apartment to list any scuffs, stains, tears, or fixtures that may not be working properly. By law, landlords are required to make necessary repairs to properties, and tenants may withhold rent money by placing it in escrow until repairs are completed.

4. Have You Researched the Neighborhood?

Before you sign an apartment lease, be sure to research the neighborhood. To learn if there are parks, grocery stores, shops, and restaurants nearby, enter the address on Google Maps. To find out if the neighborhood is safe, stroll through it during the daytime. Red flags include many “For Sale” and “For Rent” signs and lots of homes and apartments in disrepair. To check out crime levels in the neighborhood, make use of handy apps like SpotCrime and AreaVibes.

An apartment lease is a legally binding document, so it’s important to know exactly what it says before you sign it. When you think you’ve found the apartment of your dreams, learn the answers to these questions before you commit to living there. To make sure you’re comfortable when you move in, take advantage of hassle-free delivery with CORT Furniture Rental to furnish your new space, where you can rent furniture by the piece or by the room.


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