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Key Questions to Ask Before You Sign a New Lease

After a number of stressful weeks, you have found the house or apartment that is perfect for you and your family; a quick commute to work, nice neighborhood, and the landlord loves you! While it may be tempting to immediately fork over a deposit, sign on the dotted line and start moving your furniture, you must protect yourself (and your money!) by asking the important questions up front, and including them in the lease contract. Doing your homework now will avoid many  frustrations later. Here are a few crucial questions to ask before you sign a new lease:

What is the termination policy?
This might seem like an odd question to ask while deciding on a place to live, but moving companies can tell you stories of people who moved in and out of a house or apartment in just a few months. So be prepared for the unforeseen, and have the policy written into the lease contract.

What details need added to the contract?
If you negotiate a special parking spot, a free pool pass, or a waiver for your pet that is over the complex’s weight limit, get it in writing! If the owner of the house you are planning to rent promises to put up a fence or paint the exterior, get it in writing! A good lease contract protects you as much as it does the landlord.

How can we document previous damage?
Previous tenants may have scarred the walls or stained the carpets– hopefully your landlord is handling those things before you move in. If not, be sure that you document the damages so that you are not held liable for them later. Check for functionality of electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures and heating and air conditioning systems, and be sure that the lease agreement reflects any issues.

Can I change things, and will you pay for them?
Purple walls, functional but ugly faucets? You might want to discuss making improvements or changes before you sign the lease. Pointedly ask how they feel about you making some minor renovations, and if they would be willing to pay for those. Some landlords might welcome the offer, while others are apprehensive. Either way, it’s best to know, and get it documented.

What is included?
Assuming that cable, trash pickup or parking privileges are included when you lease is unwise. Always spell out in the lease contract exactly what is included so that you can budget properly.

What happens when the lease expires?
While most leases run for twelve months and then expire, there are wide variations. You need to know exactly when your lease will expire, and if it will automatically renew or convert to a month-to-month tenancy at that point. Nothing is worse than finding out you need to move out in three weeks. Most landlords or property managers will contact you in advance to find out what your intentions are, however, staying on top of them yourself is your best bet!

There are many questions to ask and decisions to make when moving, and it can be extremely nerve-wracking. Use Unpakt to find the best local movers, and visit our previous blog post on How to Create a Low Stress Moving Day to help things get done quickly and smoothly.