Before you sign a lease…Ask questions!

I am often surprised that when I meet a family signing a lease they rarely review the entire lease even though the lease states what they will and won’t be responsible for when renting a property. I thought I would put together a short list of things to look for or ask questions about before you signed your next lease. This list is not an all-inclusive list, but it should give you some direction of what you should be asking before you commit to a lease on your next home.

1.       Who is responsible for what repairs?

Many people fail to ask who is responsible for the repairs on the property when they sign the lease. Most tenants assume that the property owner is responsible for all repairs on the property, but this is not always the case and it is not a requirement by law. You may be surprised to see that you are responsible for small repairs and the property owner only handles large repairs. However, you will never know unless you ask.

2.       How long will it take to get repairs completed once I contact you

The reason you ask this is that many people complain that they tell the property owner about a repair and if he did not come out immediately then they are upset. Nevertheless, if you ask how long a repair should take to be completed then at least you will have an idea of what period to expect.

3.       What utilities and additional cost am I expected to pay?

Many tenants take for granted that their property owner will pay all of their expected expenses or utilities but often times are surprised when they find out that certain utilities are not covered by the rent. For example, I know many property owners that charge additional fees every time they must replace a lost or stolen key.

4.       What am I required to maintain?

Some property owners now require their tenants to maintain additional things outside of the property such as lawn care, gutter cleaning, or even exterior painting. Once the lease is signed if that information is included then you have no defense to why you should not have to maintain, after all, you agreed to the lease.

This list is not expected to be a negotiation tool between tenant and property owner. These questions will make you more aware of some of the requirements that property owners and properties have. If you know what to expect then you are less likely to be surprised while in the property. You also will help maintain a healthy and positive relationship with your property owner.

Until next week…

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