Apartment Living BlogApartment Living › What Should You Double-Check After Signing a Lease?

Obviously, studying your lease before you move into a new apartment is crucial. But hey. Maybe you were in a hurry, forgot something, or as you learn about your apartment and its surrounding environment, points of question come up.

It’s time to double check what you signed, not only to protect yourself against any violations you hadn’t considered, but to also get the most out of your home.

Can You Sub-Lease?

If you’re leaving town for a while and want someone to take care of the place, for a price, or are simply looking to make some cash off roommates, sub-leasing is an excellent way to do it. However, many apartments have restrictions against subleasing, and going forward without checking can lead to fees, marks against your credit, and possibly eviction. Scan over your lease to see its policy on subletting, and if there is nothing in black and white, check with your landlord anyhow. It’s better than having a legal issue.

What Improvements Can You Make to the Apartment?

While this is a question to have answered before you sign, you may have only intended on hanging a few pictures at first. Now you want to install a chandelier and aren’t sure if that’s allowed. Most leases will have wordage on how many improvements residents can make, with limitations on renovations such as installing light fixtures or moving internet ports. Check with your landlord about any improvements you’d like to make, and then be sure it’s written down and signed on your lease by them. If improvements aren’t allowed, you’ll need non-permanent additions.

How Much Notice Do You Have to Give?

Most companies and landlords require a month’s worth of notice if you’re planning to move out. However, many large companies will require more notice —up to three months on average— so they have time to market the living space to others. Depending on if it’s the busy season, how on-demand your apartment is, and their waiting list of future residents, companies are prone to changing the notice-time, so be sure to check if it’s written into your lease.

How Liable Are They for Repairs?

Maintenance is rather straightforward with renting companies. When the sink starts leaking, the hall light stops working, or the showerhead is acting funky, these are all typical things your landlord is responsible for handling. However, while they cover the majority of repairs, they may leave your security deposit in limbo if you cause anything huge —or may refuse to fix the issue. What is defined as huge and “your problem?” Check your lease to see the extent of repairs they cover, such as water damage. If you slip while hanging a picture and put a hole in the wall, will they repair it? Will they charge you for it?

Do You Get Leeway for Move-Out?

Moving your things from one home to another is stressful enough —even more so with the clock ticking down on when to hand in the keys. If your move-in time at the new place is different than your move-out date here, you run the chance of needing to pay for storage, an extra month at your old place, or having to pay for a month early at your new place. While some careful coordination will see you through this, be sure to check how much leeway you have with move-out times. Can you get one day into the new month free? Can you pay-per-day until you’re out? Some landlords are flexible and will give you a great deal —but if you don’t double check, you could be trapped into paying an additional month’s rent by accident.

What Are the Penalties of Breaking Lease?

Of course breaking lease should be your last choice. Not only will it have high costs, but it can affect your credit report and even provoke a landlord into taking legal action, placing more marks on your credit and incurring higher costs. However, if you need to upgrade to a bigger place fast or have your heart set on a new home immediately, it is an option. At this point, check to see how many months of rent you will have to pay to be free of the contract, as well as any additional fees. Some require a month’s worth of rent, others require you to pay all the months remaining before end-of-lease, and there may be a “break lease” fee on top of that. Decide if the cost is worth it, or if you can hold out a little longer.

Signing a lease is legally binding, so the more questions you ask and knowledge you clarify, the more protected you are. Happy Renting!

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Amber is the Social Media & Content Manager for For Rent Media Solutions™ and has been with the company since April 2007. In her role, Amber helps execute and optimize a social media strategic plan across multiple channels, as well as manages the company's social media product. This includes blogs, social networks, video sharing sites, and other conversational media. She spends a great deal of time building relationships with consumers, social media influencers, and bloggers to generate awareness of For Rent Media Solutions brand. In her free time, Amber loves running, #hashtags, and DIY projects.

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