Tips and Tricks for Signing Your Lease

Milva Garcia

Milva Garcia

Sun Apr 11 2021 3 min read

Moving to a new apartment is always a fun adventure especially if you have been living on campus for the majority of your college years. Sometimes you need a guide on How to Successfully Move Off-Campus, but if you are already further ahead in the process you should be just about to sign your lease. A lease is a contractual arrangement calling for the lessee to pay the lessor for use of an asset, in your case the asset is a property. 

Here's what you should ask before signing your lease:

  • Do a walkthrough of the property and note any damages
  • Ask your landlord what is included in the rent and if utilities are not included in the rent ask what the average monthly cost of these is
  • If you have an ESA (emotional support animal), ask if there are any additional fees for having a pet
  • Is wifi included?
  • Ask if you having a parking spot is included or if you'd have to pay for it separately
  • Is there a washer/dryer in the unit?
  • Also, take pictures of the apartment and email them to your landlord as proof of any damages that were not caused by you so you can get your full security deposit back

It's recommended you also do some research on your own time such as

  • How secure is the area?
    • You can use tools such as Areavibes or North American Title to determine this. Make sure the area you are moving into is safe because you don't want to wake up one morning in a rush and find your car's window is broken.
  • What are the rent prices nearby?
    • You can use this as leverage when negotiating your rent price (more on this later) and make sure you're getting the best bang for your buck.
  • How convenient is the area?
    • This is based on personal preference, but for example, if you depend on public transportation you want to make sure there is a bus stop near your apartment or a convenience store around the corner. If you have a car you want to make sure that the nearest highway exit isn't far away to make your commute easier.

Read your lease thoroughly and remember that this is a legally binding contract so ask how long you have to sign your lease upon receiving it without incurring any additional fees and make sure you take advantage of that time to read through your lease thoroughly before signing it. If you reached any verbal agreements with the landlord make sure they are included. You should always try to negotiate the terms of your lease so try and save some money. Ask about things like waiving fees, including the parking spot at no cost, or lowering the rent price. Come prepared to do that by researching properties near you and comparing costs and amenities. Never make the first offer because some websites like Zillow can show you what the price for the rent was during previous years and you could use that to your advantage. 

When you're ready to sign:

  • Make sure all roommates are present and in agreement about the terms of the lease
  • If the security deposit is due at the time of signing have it ready to be transferred to your landlord. If you're struggling to get the money together or are waiting on your FAFSA use or tool to get a 0% interest loan to help pay your security deposit.
  • If you are signing for the upcoming school year, figure out when and where you can get your keys
  • Ask when your move in and move out dates are
  • Never sign an apartment lease without having a walk-through with the landlord.
  • Have renters insurance ready. Some places require it but we recommend getting it even if they don’t just in case any unforeseen event happens. Need help finding the best renters insurance?

At the end of the day, you just need to trust your gut. Moving to an off-campus apartment is a learning experience and EDUrain is here to help make it easier for you by offering you tools that will help you get your dream apartment at the perfect price.

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