It's an exciting moment when you get the call saying that your apartment application has been approved and you get to start the process of moving in.
You'll head over to the apartment complex and meet with the manager and then begin to go over the lease and other paperwork that's required for review and/or signature.
When you have the lease in front of you it might feel daunting. So much text, single spaced on several sheets of paper. Yes, you're required to go through the lease and sign away what feels like your life. But it's good to remember that the lease is not only there to protect the property management company and apartment manager, it's there to protect you as the renter as well.
In other words, the lease is there to clearly communicate the expectations of all parties involved. To help this process go a bit easier when you go in to sign your lease, let's go over the most important items you should be on the look out for. We want you to feel prepared walking into the apartment manager's office!
Leases typically have two parts to them, the hard numbers and the written agreements.
The Hard Numbers
When you first look at your lease, you'll find a bunch of items that have a "hard" number attached. These are numbers that you are agreeing upon and can't be easily (or at all) changed once you sign on the dotted line. The majority of these numbers may look familiar to you because you would have seen in the apartment listing when you applied for it!
The "hard" numbers may include but aren’t limited to dates, monetary amounts, etc.:
- Unit number (also known as the dwelling space)
- Monthly rent
- Security deposit
- Due dates and late fees
- List of all occupants
- Lease type (month-to-month, yearly, etc.)
- Move-In date
- Amount due at move-in
The Written Agreements
Outside of the "hard" numbers, the rest of the lease will be all about the rules, procedures, disclosure or addendums that go along with the complex you are joining.
The written agreements may include but aren’t limited to:
- Maintenance agreements & procedures (who is in charge of what)
- Policy on renter’s insurance
- Restrictions on altering unit
- Rules on noise, pets, guests, parking, liquid furnishing (ie: water bed), destruction of premises, amenities, entry of staff, lead disclosures, keys, etc.
You'll also want to be on the lookout for the section that lets you know the actions in which you can be immediately evicted over (you'll want to stay away from those!).
Tips for Renters
TIP #1: It might seem annoying and tedious but make sure that you read everything on your lease, even the fine print. The apartment manager should encourage you to take your time and they mean it!
TIP #2: If you don’t feel comfortable reading the lease in front of the manager or would like more time to process what you're reading, you can request that you take it home to review.
TIP #3: Ask questions and gain clarification if you don’t understand something. When you're done signing your lease, you should know everything that's expected of you and of your apartment complex.
TIP #4: Get everything in writing. If they say they're going to fix this or include that, make sure that you have it in writing so that they can be held accountable for the actions that they said they'd do.
Signing an apartment lease for apartments doesn’t have to be scary when you have a basic understanding of what will be on the lease.
Once you've got everything signed and you are ready to move in make sure you complete all 13 of these move-in must dos! Moving in can be overwhelming and exhausting, making you forget some of the simplest things. This list of 13 Things To-Do Immediately After Move-In will be a life savor and have you feeling moved in and at home in no time!