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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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Things Renters Should Be Know Before Signing a Lease:

.1. Have the Better Business bureau or local landlord-tenant organization advise you if any of the landlord's renters have had complaints. Also, ask the landlord to provide the names of current or previous tenants so you can obtain references.
2. Specify exactly how much you will have to pay each month & upfront , & who pays for which utility or landscaping expense,
3. Ask if the landlord intends to return your pet and security deposits in full.
3. Ask the landlord if the property is insured and whether or not he is current with his own payments for the property.
4. Make sure you discover if the property has or has had any environmental problems, i.e., mold, pests, or has been a meth lab. Also find out if these problems have been rectified and verify this with the contractor who corrected each situation.
5. Find out if any registered sexual predators live in the building.
5. Have the landlord conduct a walk-through inspection and initial any damage that exists before you move in. Get a copy of this or videotape the walk-through. Film yourself with the landlord holding a sign showing the date.
5. Ask the landlord who is responsible for repairs and how the landlord will handle such repairs.
6. Find out how much notice a landlord can give you before entering the premises.
7. Ask the landlord if the rental has or has had any environmental problems, i.e, mold, termites, or if the property has been a meth lab.
5. Read a copy of local landlord-tenants regulations. You can obtain this from a local landlord-tenants organization. Know your rights as tenant.
.6. Ask whether pets are allowed & what type. If the landlord will not agree to pets or more than 1 pet, ask if you can put down a larger pet deposit.
7. Find out if you can sublease your rental.
8. Also, find out if you can have roommates, if you plan to have them.
9. Find out if the landlord has hazard insurance on the property. If not, do not move in here.

Negotiating a contract:

1. Find out if you can obtain a discount for agreeing to a longer-term lease, i.e., 2-3 years.
2. If you feel the rent is too high, ask if the landlord can lower it. What the heck? The Landlord may agree to a lower rent. (Bring letters of reference from other landlords so you can promote yourself as a wonderful, trustworthy tenant.)
3. Ask the landlord upfront if he or she will repair problems that are obvious when you first visit the rental, i.e., paint the premises or improvements.. If he won't, try to make this a condition of your renting the rental.
4. Bring a copy of your credit report to show the landlord. He'll check it anyway; but if your report is good, you'll make a better first impression. If more than 1 person is vying for the rental, you'll make first on the list.
5. Find out if there is an "escape clause."in the lease. You may get transferred to another area, for example. Also determine if there are any penalties for leaving early. If no escape clause exists, ask to have one put into your contract..
Be sure to have the landlord initial every change or addition to the contract.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
Leasing and renting for homeowners in the Greater Kansas City Market is much more limited than in other parts of the United States mainly because housing affordability is much greater here than in New York, Los Angles and certain parts of Florida where condos are a bigger deal. Most people in this area buy as opposed to lease or rent and this is almost a non-issue in this area of the country. But with that being said, Marcia has nailed the details and I cannot think of anything else to add except that generally speaking landlords are very wary of tenants in upper income properties since this practice is not mainstream in the Kansas City market.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 7, 2012
I am trying to get an idea of what my utilty bills will be in this duplex located at 7535 Terrace Street 64114.
Is there a way to check this?
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Aug 31, 2012
If you call the utility companies and let them know that you plan on moving into a new property. Ask them to provide you with the estimated cost of utilities every month. Some will give you the average price in the last month, and some will give you a high and a low value. Since you mentioned it was a duplex some of the utilities might be shared (Water) therefore the utility company will give you the total usage. If thats the case though, you will most likely not be paying for water.
Flag Tue Jan 15, 2013
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