When signing your first contract, it’s tempting to skim over the words and assume that everything on that sheet of paper is good to go. However, it is SO important to make sure you don’t miss anything that may cause you issues in the future. A leasing contract is legally binding and works to clarify many potential misunderstandings that could occur between a tenant and a landlord.
Here are some general recommendations in regards to rental contracts.
ALWAYS make sure there is a tenancy agreement to sign!
Having a record of that which was agreed to allows for protection of all parties involved. We highly recommend not getting involved in a rental situation where your future property manager does not provide a contract.
Read the entire contract
If you do not feel comfortable with reading it, or feel that you do not have the legal knowledge to thoroughly understand the contract, do not sign it. Either return with someone you trust that can overlook the agreement for your, or ask for a copy to read over on your own time prior to signing.
Make note of the following aspects of the contract prior to signing:
- Amount and due date of monthly rent
- Format which rent is accepted in (may not necessarily be on the contract however it should be looked into.)
- Services included: Utilities, Parking, etc.
- Any potential fees the landlord may charge you, and reasons for these fees.
- Maintenance responsibilities of tenants.
- Guidelines for subletting, evictions, and conduct.
- Agreement of Apartment Condition: This is very important; contracts will often include an agreement claiming that the apartment is in pristine condition. However, if you saw the apartment and there are maintenance issues that need to be addressed, do not just accept the landlord’s word that it will be done. Make sure to note all possible problems. If you do not, then there is a possibility that you may in the future incur the blame or that you just may never receive the maintenance needed.
These are just some of the many things that contracts can include, and for that reason we once again stress the importance of reading the contract thoroughly!