So you've found the perfect apartment in just the right location at a price that’s within your budget. There’s nothing left to do except sign a lease right? Even though the apartment seems perfect, there are still a few questions you should ask your leasing agent before you officially seal the deal.
What are the penalties for late payment? Do you offer a grace period?
This question should be asked even if you have never made a late payment before. Unexpected emergencies can happen at any time, leaving you strapped for cash you may have been saving to pay your rent with. Before signing a lease, make sure the penalties are something you would be able to live with in the event you do find yourself in arrears.
What is the length of the lease? Are there special circumstances that would allow me to break it?
If you work for a company that is likely to transfer you with little or no warning, you’ll want to make sure you can get out of your lease if this happens. Likewise, if you are planning to buy a home, it can be a good idea to find out if you’ll be able to terminate it early so you won’t be stuck making both rent and mortgage payments. Many properties allow their renters to terminate a lease early under certain circumstances, so be sure you know what these situations are ahead of time.
What is required in order for me to receive my security deposit back?
Since there are so many variables when it comes to security deposits, it’s best to know what will be expected of you before you move in. If possible, ask the leasing agent to show you an apartment that has recently been vacated before maintenance crews have come in to clean up or do repairs. Ask the agent to point out some things that could keep the previous occupants from getting their entire security deposit back. That way, you can be sure you won’t make the same mistakes.
Will I be able to add someone to the lease later?
This might be necessary if you decide to get a roommate or find yourself needing to take in a family member with nowhere to go. Find out what the steps would be to add another person as well as how much additional money it might cost.
Is emergency maintenance available?
Should your water pipes burst or furnace fail to operate, you’ll need emergency maintenance. Find out ahead of time whether emergency maintenance technicians are always on call, and what the process for contacting them would be.
By asking the right questions ahead of time, you can be sure to find an apartment you will be happy with, rather than regretting your decision just a short time later. In the end, you’ll be glad you took the time to do so.