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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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I highly suggest you read the lease agreement carefully, as some important items that are often overlooked include who maintains appliances, what are the late payment fees, when can the owner have access to the property, and many more....

I recommend working with a licensed Real Estate Agent to assist you in finding and negiotiating the final terms of any lease agreement. Typically there isn't any cost to the tenant, as the agents are paid by the landlord for bringing them a qualified tenant.

Feel free to search all the rental properties in San Diego at my website below. Good luck!

David Stone
Greater Good Realty
619-206-1551
David@GreaterGoodRealty.com
CA DRE#01888818
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
1. Take film photos of each room, and every imperfection on the walls and floors. Be sure there's a time stamp on the photos. Some landlords like to charge renters for new carpet & paint out of their security deposit when it's normal wear & tear. Have proof to back it up.

2. Do a walk through with the owner or an agent of the owner. Have a checklist if they don't (you can find one online), and document these imperfections. Have the owner/agent sign along with you.

3. Read the contract word for word. Don't let a property manager pressure you to sign without taking the time to read it thoroughly. Take the contract with you, sit down somewhere, and read it. Ask clarifying questions before signing.

4. Request to change terms you cannot live with. Sometimes you can ask an owner, less often a property manager, to draw up an addendum to change one or more of the contract terms you feel are unfair.
A lease is a contract; an addendum is a change or addition to the contract terms; contracts are generally negotiable.

5. Be sure you understand what happens when the lease expires.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
See if your lease covers a renewal rate. It never feels good when a tenant gets price gouged because their lease term is up. If you want to go month to month after your time expires, find out what it will cost to stay. For instance, find out if it will it go up three hundred dollars a month if you go month-month? This is relevant info which sometime the landlord/mgmt company does not really talk about unless asked. Also, find out what move out fees they will charge or mandate. Hope this helps!

Anton Weber
888 758 9268
Web Reference: http://www.REOAvenue.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
Hopefully you are working with a realtor pro to help you with this... but whether you are or not.... Read the contract thoroughly. Make sure you understand everything and if you are not clear... ask questions. Remember any contract does not guarantee performance... it spells out recourse. Do not sign anything that you do not really comprehend.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 6, 2012
The most important thing that I can think of in today's economy is to be as sure as possible are the following:
You don't have to be inconsiderate in requesting this information, just ask nicely for the information.. and if it cannot be provided.. move on.

1. Copy of the Tax Records evidencing WHO owns TITLE to the property.
2. If you are leasing from someone OTHER than the person on TITLE to the property. Ask to see a copy of the agreement with the company or person handling the lease. If it is a Licensed Brokerage, I would probably be more relaxed about it, but I would make sure that they have a CA REAL ESTATE LICENSE.
3. Make sure that WHO you are writing a PERSONAL CHECK or making a CASHIERS CHECK or MONEY ORDER Payable to, is the person on title.. Or the property management company who has a written agreement (which you have seen or have a copy of) with the TITLE OWNER.
4. I would ask someone to search the REALIST data base (any Realtor can do this with ease) to see if there are any indications of financial trouble ahead with the landlord.. Also see if the property had recently been listed for sale and the listing expired or was cancelled. I would call that listing agent to find out the status of the owner.

Sadly, there are people in a world of hurt out there. So, protecting yourselves from those who would chose to take advantage of you is key in my minds eye.
The next thing that I would say is Document the condition of the home with a MOVE IN/MOVE OUT Inspection Sheet which should be completed within 3 days of your moving in.. and probably not in a half hour walk through. If that is what the management company requires, then I would follow up with a list of any decrepancies noted with the first 3-5 days. I am personally always totally honest and totally fair with tenants, but there seems to be others who look out only for their own interests and that is who you must protect yourselves against. Make sure that the landlord signs the move in move out condition and that you receive a copy of that..
Someone mentioned pre negotiating a rate for the next year and I would just tell you that if you smell somethign amiss go to the next property where things feel OK.. I counsel my clients to be FAIR to their tenants. I have never had a landlord raise a rent more than $50 in a year over year increase.. Most of the time, as long as the tenant remains there and is a good tenant and paying on time, they have not increased the rent. So, be respectful and most of the time that will come back to you.
Good Luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 8, 2012
The most important thing that I can think of in today's economy is to be as sure as possible are the following:
You don't have to be inconsiderate in requesting this information, just ask nicely for the information.. and if it cannot be provided.. move on.

1. Copy of the Tax Records evidencing WHO owns TITLE to the property.
2. If you are leasing from someone OTHER than the person on TITLE to the property. Ask to see a copy of the agreement with the company or person handling the lease. If it is a Licensed Brokerage, I would probably be more relaxed about it, but I would make sure that they have a CA REAL ESTATE LICENSE.
3. I would ask someone to search the REALIST data base (any Realtor can do this with ease) to see if there are any indications of financial trouble ahead with the landlord.. Also see if the property had recently been listed for sale and the listing expired or was cancelled. I would call that listing agent to find out the status of the owner.

Sadly, there are people in a world of hurt out there. So, protecting yourselves from those who would chose to take advantage of you is key in my minds eye.
The next thing that I would say is Document the condition of the home with a MOVE IN/MOVE OUT Inspection Sheet which should be completed within 3 days of your moving in.. and probably not in a half hour walk through. If that is what the management company requires, then I would follow up with a list of any decrepancies noted with the first 3-5 days. I am personally always totally honest and totally fair with tenants, but there seems to be others who look out only for their own interests and that is who you must protect yourselves against. Make sure that the landlord signs the move in move out condition and that you receive a copy of that..
Someone mentioned pre negotiating a rate for the next year and I would just tell you that if you smell somethign amiss go to the next property where things feel OK.. I counsel my clients to be FAIR to their tenants. I have never had a landlord raise a rent more than $50 in a year over year increase.. Most of the time, as long as the tenant remains there and is a good tenant and paying on time, they have not increased the rent. So, be respectful and most of the time that will come back to you.
Good Luck
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 8, 2012
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