Eight Areas to Check Before You Sign a Rental Contract

It’s terrible to sign a rental contract and settle in to a new rental home or apartment only to discover something amiss. Once you sign a lease or contract, you are legally bound to what is written in the rental agreement. Sure, you could break your lease, but that means paying stiff penalties.

To avoid mistakes that you will have to live with for the duration of your stay, you need to ask questions. Here are eight areas to ask about before you sign a rental contract.

  1. Surprise expenses

The water might be free, but that doesn’t mean all of your utilities are. Find out who is responsible for paying for what. This includes electricity, heat, gas, cable television, Internet and water.

  1. Noise problems

Ask your landlord what the rules are regarding tenant noise and how they are enforced. Don’t be afraid to look online or ask other tenants if they have been bothered by noise from trains, planes, dogs or neighbors.

  1. Poor conditions

Getting a tour through a similar apartment is fine, but you should always ask to see the actual apartment you will be moving into before you sign a rental contract. If the landlord agrees that something requires refurbishing, get a written commitment as part of the lease rather than relying on verbal assurances. Reach out to other tenants to find out how responsive the landlord is when something breaks.

  1. Parking

Find out if there are designated parking places and, if so, what the tow policies are. If you have roommates, find out how much additional parking spaces cost. Ask current tenants if they are always able to find parking and if their guests are.

  1. Public transportation

If you are apartment hunting in a bigger city, ask your landlord where the nearest mass transit is. Depending on where you are located, consider asking to what degree weather conditions impact public transportation.

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