Before You Rent
A lease agreement is a binding contract that cannot easily be terminated. Before signing a lease, be sure you are satisfied with the dwelling. Below are tips to help make sure you like the place before signing.
- NEVER rent a dwelling unit sight unseen. It is important to check for needed repairs, bugs, pests, and obvious plumbing or electrical problems. Don’t be afraid to turn on faucets and flush the toilets to make sure everything works. Some apartment companies will take you to showrooms, but you should ask to see the actual unit you will be renting.
- Check sites such as apartmentratings.com, ratemyapartments.com, and the OCHS Facebook page to read reviews of your potential landlord.
- Talk to current tenants (when the landlord is not there) and ask them what their experience has been with the landlord. Here are some good questions to ask:
- How responsive is the landlord when there is a problem?
- Are they respectful to their tenants?
- What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What problems have you had with the house/apartment?
- Make sure the location is safe. Are the parking lots and walkways well-lit? Ask about re-keying procedures when new tenants move in.
- READ your lease before you sign it! The policies outlined in your lease outweigh any promises your landlord may make to you verbally. Make sure you understand what you are committing to.
- If the landlord has enticed you to move-in by promising to make improvements to the house, make certain you list the improvements and the dates by which they are to be completed and have both parties initial it. This will make the improvement legally binding.
- Get a copy of the lease! You need to have this for your records if you have questions in the future, especially if there are write-ins. Make certain you get one right away!