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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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Try to arrange a walk through prior signing the lease. Check the windows if it locks properly, find out if it has good water pressure, ask about pest control (whether its included in the rent), find out if its ok to change atleast one lock, who is your point of contact in case of any emergency, find out the hours of moving, if there any freight elevator etc
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Apr 16, 2012
If it's a for rent by owner, always verify ownership before exchanging any money; ask if the property is a short sale; carefully review the lease, and if not working with an agent, consider consulting with an attorney beforehand; ask about repairs/maintenance and who you can call in case of an emergency; release terms; deposit details; can locks be changed; what does the rent include; who is responsible for pests, etc.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
Read the lease carefully, first and foremost. Take pictures and make notes of anything that is in the least bit damaged. Be aware of what other properties are renting for so that you don't over pay. Look for penalties for breaking the lease so you know exactly what you will be expected to do and pay in the event you cannot complete the lease term. Look for extra 'pet fees' and 'cleaning fees'. Find out if there is any kind of association fee and who pays for it. Are there any amenities, such as lake access if you are in a lake community or tennis courts, etc, if you are in a townhome community. Be sure you know what utilities you are responsible for. If it's a single family home, will you be paying for lawn maintenance and (in my area anyway), snow removal. What about water, sewer and trash removal.

Any of the items mentioned in the previous paragraph can be used to negotiate. It's the big picture, the more you have to pay for pet fees, utilities and maintenance, the less you can afford to pay for monthly rent. If you can, consider signing a two year lease in exchange for a reduction in monthly rent. I have found that very effective. If not monthly rent, then perhaps in the security deposit or any realtors' fee you are asked to pay.

Finally, if you have pets there are some creative ways to convince a landlord to accept your pet or at least to keep the rent reasonable if they do. For example, I wrote a lease once that said, if the tenants failed to 'clean up' after their dog twice a week the landlord had the right to hire a doggie clean up company and deduct the cost from their security deposit. You can also offer to have the unit professionally cleaned at the end of your time there. If you have your dog professionally groomed, show the receipts to the landlord so they can see you are a responsible pet owner. Same with veterinary records.

In rentals as in all real estate, everything is negotiable.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
Read the lease carefully.
Show it to your legal adviser if you dont understand something
Get a copy if you can after signing
Negotiate some things if necessary
If you have pet make sure it's acceptable
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
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