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What are some tips for renters before signing a lease?

Asked by Trulia, San Francisco, CA Tue Mar 6, 2012

What are some things to be aware of? What are some tips when negotiating a lease?

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Robert McGuire’s answer
Trulia,

In addition to the good tips below:

1. Don't spend over 30 percent of your income on the lease payments. You will be cash poor an unable to save for purchasing your own home down the road.
2. Read the lease agreement. Make sure you agree and can live with the aspects of the lease. Although the market is tight, don't be too desparate.
3. If it is a condo with an HOA, the covenants will also apply to you in regards to parking, noise, smoking or whatever other beneficial or weird rules apply.
4. Consider things like the time frame of the lease. Usually the longer the lease the better the terms. But don't sign a long term lease if your job situation is tenuous.
5. Be clear on property managements policy on roommates that are on the lease or not on the lease. Know your rights.
6. Talk to a lender. It will help you know when you will be able to purchase and you can time your lease accordingly. The lender can also help you to understand what a good payment will be for your budget. You also may be surprised that you qualify for purchase with payments lower than the lease payments. Sometimes with little or no money down.

Robert McGuire ASR
Realtor/Consultant
Your Castle Real Estate
1776 S. Jackson St. #412
Denver CO 80210
Direct – 303-669-1246
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
Some of the things that a tenant should be aware of when reviewing the lease:
1) What is the penalty if you pay the rent late?
2) Who is responsible for appliance, system repairs, etc if something breaks?
3) Who is responsible for utilities?
4) How long does the landlord/property mgmt have to return your security deposit after you move out?
5) Where is your security deposit being held (this is your money so you want to make sure they can return it after you move out).
6) Are pets allowed and what are the fees?
7) After the terms of your lease are over (typically one year), can you go month to month? How much notice do you have to give to move out (you want about 30 days).

A couple of other tips:
- Make sure to read the entire lease and ask the landlord/property mgmt any questions before signing. I have tenants initial each page to make sure they do review it.
- You must also sign a lead paint disclosure if the property was built before 1978. Make sure to review the lead pamphlet before signing the disclosure.
- Walk through the property before signing the lease and note/take pictures of anything that is damaged. You do not want to be responsible for fixing something that you did not break.
- Confirm that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are installed and working.

Good luck!

Nina Kuhl
Cherry Creek Properties LLC
c: 303-913-5858
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
As a landlord, I can tell you what most renters don't do, that they should do.

1. read the lease

2. believe the landlord will enforce the lease

3. keep a copy of the lease where you can find it, so you can review it before you decide whether you should or shouldn't do something.

4. believe the landlord will enforce the lease.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
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