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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Shauna Knight, Agent, Kalamazoo, MI
Tue Mar 6, 2012
First of all, understand that you are "approving" the lease - meaning that there is still time to make changes.
1. Look for mathmatical errors or omissions. The date on the lease should reflect the terms you and your landlord agreed upon. Once you have the lease end date, check for requirements for ending the lease early or giving notice to move out.
2. Check the security deposit amount and the amount of rent they are expecting - what does that include (water, sewer, trash and so on). Is the deposit refundable? What date is rent due each month and is there a grace period?
3. Are there utilities included in the rent that will be seperated out in your monthly bill or what can you expect from the company directly.
4. Late and NSF fees are next, also make sure to ask about NSF and if you get one are you also considered late (which is like double dipping on the fees).
5. Pet addendums will vary - so if you do have a pet, make sure you understand how to be a good neighbor. Also understand that City Ordinances will be in affect in the community.
6. Before you sign, you have the right to look at the apartment home and I would suggest doing so - it is always better to note things that you want fixed or don't want to be charged for once you move out before you get the keys. Test drive!
7. Get renters insurance - it is VERY affordable and you may have a landlord that requires it.
8. Enjoy your time in the community - go to events that they hold and ge to know your neighbors!
3 votes
Gene Scott, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Tue Mar 6, 2012
Tips follow:
1. Read the lease in its entirety. If you do not understand a clause ask the landlord or manager. The lease is a contract and you are bound by its terms for the duration. Make sure the things you care about are fair to both you and the landlord. Pay particular attention to what your obligations are if you need to move out of the unit before the end of the lease.
2. Ask if there are rules and regulations governing the residence. If there are, ask for a copy and read them thoroughly. Just for one example, some properties have restrictions on pets. You do not want to be in violation of the rules the minute you move into the property.
3. Don't forget that the lease needs to be fair to both you and the landlord. You are more likely to obtain a concession on one or two items that are really important to you if you are not asking for wholesale changes in the lease document. If you are asking for a change be sure to state your case clearly in a manner that the landlord can understand.

Good luck,
Gene Scott
Loan Officer and Realtor
ERA Buy America Real Estate Services
2 votes
Michael Magaw, Agent, Torrance, CA
Tue Mar 6, 2012
Use a Realtor to help you find your next lease. They will help find the home, negotiate for the best terms, prepare and review the lease contract, and help you avoid scams. And often the Landlord/owner will pay. But if they won't, it is still money well spent.
Verify that the landlord you meet is the real owner. There are lots of scams to take your rent money and deposit.
Verify that the home is not in pre-foreclosure. Some owners who know they are going to lose their home, decide to collect rent and deposit and let the new tenant deal with the foreclosure.
1 vote
Barbara Robb…, Agent, Long Beach, CA
Tue Mar 6, 2012
There are so many people looking for rentals especially due to the foreclosure and short sale issues in our market today that there are usually many applicants per unit that is being rented especially if it is a house, townhome or a very reasonable rent. If it is a condo be sure that you are given the Rules and Regulations so you know what is expected by the condo association. If you have a pet, many landlords are asking for monthly rent for the pets in addition to a security deposit. Be sure if you are on the web looking for a rental that you do not pay a fee to find out an address of a place to be rented as often that is a scam just to get your money.

If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me. I help renters find places and there is no charge for that service.

Barbara Robbins-Olexa, Broker
L B Brokerage
DRE Lic#797560
1 vote
Hi Barbara, you said you can help renters to find a place do you know a house for rent in Long Beach or Carson 90745, 3BR and 2 Bath or 1 3/4 is ok , i really apprecaite if you can help us find thanks so much
Flag Fri Apr 13, 2012
Jessica Acker, Agent, Santa Monica, CA
Wed Mar 7, 2012
I think all the other answers on here are great. One of the things that my tenants find very important is the "lease- breaking clause". Unfortunately, there are circumstances where a lease must be broken due to a new job opportunity, loss of a job, family circumstance, or any other reason. You want to make sure you understand what your financial loss will be and how you can mitigate the loss by actively participating in the leasing process. Sometimes you can help out by listing the unit and showing it to perspective renters. The less time between tenants the better for the lease breaker.

Also, just because it says something on the lease, it does not mean it is necessarily legal or enforceable. For example, a generic lease may say something that is not enforceable in a rent controlled city like Santa Monica.
0 votes
Jerome Hodge, , Long Beach, CA
Tue Mar 6, 2012
Assuming we are addressing a residence, we are concerned with a few basics.
Tip 1: Know what you are looking for and why.
Tip 2: If you are planning on purchasing in the future...don't spend all of you money on rent. Right now, you most likely will be able to purchase a home for less (or near equal) to what you may pay in rent.
Tip 3: See Tip 1 and Tip 2
0 votes
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