Renting a home is a rite of passage for those transitioning from adolescence to adulthood, as well as young families and those unable or unwilling to jump into homeownership. As the economy strengthens and the housing crisis continues, the demand for rental units is expected to skyrocket. Whether you are looking for your first apartment or are a lifelong renter, there are certain things you need to know before signing a contract. The following questions should always be asked during the negotiation process.
- What is the length of the contract and is there a penalty for breaking the lease?
What happens if you need to move before the contract expires? Although laws vary from state to state,
in California, the tenant is responsible for rent until the contract expires or until a new tenant is found. However, most landlords have a simple lease-break fee (generally equal to one month’s rent). This should be stated plainly in the contract. Are you interested in renting or purchasing of the apartment under Penrose price? The understanding of the services should be great to meet with the right results. The budget can be prepared to spend the money at the apartment.
- What if my roommate doesn’t pay his rent?
Be careful who you sign a lease with! If you pay your rent on time and your roommate fails to pay (or his check bounces), you are responsible for his share. Although there is generally a process to remove a roommate from a rental contract, some landlords may require all roommates to be in agreement, which makes it tricky if your roommate skips out on you. Ask your landlord what the procedure is to add or remove a roommate from the contract.
- Who does the routine maintenance? What are my responsibilities?
Most large apartment communities have full time maintenance people on staff. But beware, as you can be charged for maintenance calls that are a result of misuse. For example, if your disposal stops working because it is old, they should replace it at no cost to you. However, if you pour your leftover spaghetti in the disposal, resulting in a clog, you can be charged a service call. Also considered misuse is shower drains clogged with your hair and feminine products (even if it says it’s flushable!) down the toilet.
- What is required in order to have my security deposit refunded?
Don’t just assume that your entire deposit will be refunded as long as you fulfill your financial obligations under the lease. Although your deposit can be applied to unpaid rent, it can also go towards cleaning the apartment and repairing damages. Request a walk through prior to move out and ask for a list of potential deductions.
- How do I terminate tenancy?
Most landlords require at least a 30-Day written notice to vacate. Keep a copy of your notice for your records, and always submit a forwarding address.