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Before You Lease

Here are a few suggestions on what to check before you sign that lease:

  • Check the furnace, plumbing and any appliances that come with the apartment/home.
  • Are there enough electrical outlets and lights?
  • Is the wiring adequate to handle several appliances?
  • Are storm windows, screens and shades provided?
  • Are the floors solid, without holes or splinters?
  • Are the walls and ceilings painted, papered and without cracks?
  • Are the doors, windows and entrances to the building secured?
  • Are the stairs safe and well lit?
  • Are the fire escapes easily accessible?
  • Are there fire alarms and/or sprinklers?
  • Are there at least two means of egress from the second floor and above?
  • Is the apartment quiet or can you hear those next to, above or below you?
  • Is there evidence of rodents or insects?
  • Who pays for an exterminator?
  • Ask others in the building about any negative aspects of living there.
  • Ask previous occupants about aspects of living there.
  • If the apartment is furnished, check for, record and save a list of all defects in the furniture.
  • What is the cost of any utilities you may be responsible for paying? You may want to ask others in the building or previous tenants rather than accepting a landlord’s estimates.
  • Is the apartment currently rented out to someone else or is being offered to someone else?
  • Have all of your potential roommates read the lease?
  • How safe is the area?
  • Make and keep a list of all existing damages or repairs that need to be made.
  • Keep a copy of the list of existing damages or repairs and then give one to your landlord and attach a copy to the lease if you sign one.
  • If possible, the list of damages should be signed and dated by the landlord.
  • When you move out, such records will assure that your security deposit will only be applied to damages for which you are responsible.

Signing a Lease

A lease is an oral or written contract between a landlord and a tenant. Your best protection is a written lease signed by both parties. Make sure your lease contains:

  • The specific address, including apartment number, of the property.
  • The lease must contain an adequate description of the property.
  • The duration of the lease.
  • An explanation of the rent payment procedure, including late penalties and rent increases.
  • A list of any utilities you are responsible for paying.
  • Termination or renewal terms.
  • The amount of security deposit.
  • Who will be responsible for the taxes on the property?
  • The correct name and address of the party to whom rent shall be paid.
  • Whether you as the tenant are waiving or limiting any notice requirements before the landlord can evict you.
  • What repairs you will be responsible for.
  • What you will be responsible for when you move out i.e., cleaning carpets, painting, etc.
  • Whether there are any limitations and/or restrictions upon what you can do with the property, i.e. having pets, noise, certain appliances, etc.
  • Whether the landlord is reserving any part of the property for his or her use.
  • When and under what circumstances the landlord may enter your premises.
  • The name, phone number and complete address for the party you should contact for repairs or problems with the property.
  • A listing of all the tenants for the property.
  • What will happen if one of your roommates leaves?
  • The name, complete address and phone number of the landlord.
  • Who will be responsible for the upkeep and damage to the common areas?
  • Who will be responsible for injuries suffered by persons who use the common areas of the property?
  • Who will provide insurance to cover injuries that are suffered in the common areas?



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