What you should know before you rent an apartment
By Jonathon Newman [January 28th, 2011]
Before you move in, you will need to sign a lease, which is an agreement between you and your landlord about the terms of your stay in the apartment. IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO HAVE A WRITTEN LEASE, although it is not required. Keep a signed copy for your records. Make sure you read and understand the lease. If you don't understand something, ask questions. Remember: when you sign a lease, you’re agreeing to play by the rules set out in it. Unless the lease is illegal, you will be held to it and can be evicted if you break any part.
THE LEASE SHOULD INCLUDE AT LEAST:
- How much the rent is.
- Time frame it covers.
- Payment due date.
- Late charges, if any.
- To whom/where rent is paid.
- Guest policy.
- How utilities are divided if on a shared meter.
- List the damages that existed before your tenancy.
SOME UNACCEPTABLE LEASE TERMS:
- If it states that by signing the lease you give up, or don’t have, the right to an eviction through the courts.
- If the fees for late rent payments are more than 5% of the rent amount.
- If it says that you are responsible for all repairs to the unit.
TYPES OF LEASES
Periodic Tenancy: month to month, week to week. At the end of the term the landlord can decide if s/he wants to raise the rent.
Fixed Term Tenancy: typically 6 month, 1 year. You will still pay by the month, but you agree to stay for the full term of the lease. The landlord can’t ask you to move unless you violate the agreement. Your rent can’t be raised during this time period (unless the lease says differently.) If you break the lease, you may be held responsible for the rest of the rent (you may be able to sub-lease, but you must check with the landlord first.) Notice to move in a year - year lease: OFTEN 30 days.
Oral Agreements: In most cases, promises made by the landlord are hard to enforce if they are not in the written lease, or in an attachment to it. If repairs need to be made before you move in, make sure that they are attached to the lease. Prevent misunderstandings! Put agreements in writing.