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5 Things to Look for When Signing a Lease

Unsigned Cheney Rental Agreement ContractAs a Cheney tenant, do not make the big mistake of not thoroughly reading a lease before you sign it. This can turn into a huge problem since no two leases are exactly alike, and some landlords may put things in the lease that you probably wouldn’t agree to. Since the lease is a binding legal contract, unless the specific clause violates state law, you could end up having responsibility for anything from unauthorized guests to tree removal. It is a must to read the entire lease very carefully before you sign anything. As you go over the lease, keep an eye out for these items.

1. Documentation of Property Condition

Before signing a lease for your new home, make sure your landlord has a way of documenting the property’s condition. It would be very disadvantageous for you not to have some way to document the property’s condition before you move in. For your protection, ask about your landlord’s documentation process and make sure to report any existing damage before moving in.

2. Termination Policy and Fees

Most leases cover a specific time period, while some can be renewed on a month-to-month basis. Regardless, you should understand your lease’s stated policy on ending or canceling the lease and what fees you may incur. There are leases that require advance notice 30-60 days before you leave. But other leases carry harsh penalties for terminating a lease. For instance, after signing a 12-month lease you find out you need to move 6 months into the contract, your lease may require you to pay a cancellation fee, the remaining rent on the contract, or both. You may also forfeit some or all of your security deposit. Since all leases are different, you have to read these policies carefully and clarify anything before you sign.

3. Roommates and Subletting

Renters must not assume that renting a home means they have the right to sublet all or part of it to others. But many leases include clauses that strictly forbid renters from doing so. Review your lease terms carefully before planning to sublet your home when you are away or getting a roommate to help you with the rent. The last thing you want is to be charged for illegally subletting your place. You could get evicted or held financially responsible for damages to the residence during your illegal tenant’s stay.

4. Pet Policy and Pet Fees

If you are bringing a pet into your new home, check your lease first for your landlord’s pet policy. Hiding a pet from a landlord who doesn’t allow them on the property is not a good idea, and most tenants who try this still get caught anyway. If pets are allowed, it usually means you have to pay additional fees or a deposit. You should then check if your deposit is refundable if your pet does not cause any damages to the property. The only exception is if your pet is a service or emotional support animal. In this case, your landlord is required to permit the animal on the property with no additional fees. If you are in a similar situation, you have to inform your landlord to avoid future problems.

5. Cleaning and Other Responsibilities

As you read through the lease, make a careful note of which responsibilities are assigned to whom. Most leases provide that the landlord will do certain services while you do others. Common tasks often assigned to tenants are lawn maintenance, light bulb replacement, utilities, and cleaning. Some landlords opt to take care of these services and have the property cleaned professionally before the next tenant moves in. Others expect their tenants to do it on their own or hire a professional cleaning company to get the job done. Either way, you have to know which responsibilities are yours before signing the lease.

You really have to read your lease carefully. Making sure you understand all the terms, and clarifying anything, if necessary. There could be parts of your lease that are negotiable so do not hesitate to ask your landlord for revisions. Since you will be the one living with the lease terms, it would be best not to have any surprises later on.


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