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Signing a Lease

What should I know before signing a lease for an apartment?

A rental lease is a legally binding, written agreement between you (lessee) and the landlord (lessor). It is usually a standard form. However, it may be amended by writing changes on the document; both you and the landlord must initial the changes to show you agree. Make sure you do the following before signing:

  • Read the rental lease carefully. It should describe the condition of each room in detail.
  • Note any damage or items in disrepair. Get the landlord to agree, in writing, to make repairs before you sign or pay a deposit.
  • Make sure you are aware of any extra fees involved, like pet rent, a parking fee, or a utility fee.
  • Clarify who pays for electric, gas, water, sewage, trash, lawn care, and pest control. If you're on the line for these expenses, make sure you're prepared to pay.
Person reading before signing a lease

If you don't understand something in the lease, ask what it means. Never sign a lease with blanks to be filled in later. And never settle for an oral agreement. If it isn't in writing, you have no proof to support you in a dispute.

If you have doubts about anything in a lease agreement, talk to an attorney.


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