Apartment Lease Basics

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When you rent an apartment, you will most likely have to sign a lease. A lease is a legal document that gives you the right to occupy the said rental unit for an agreed-upon. There are many things you might wonder before you sign the lease, such as how much you owe, what the best lease term for you is, and who else you might need to sign the lease. Once you sign the lease, you are obligated to occupy the unit for the set amount of time, and if you break the lease and move out early, you may incur fees and penalties. You can be prepared to avoid many of the problems that renters can face with leases if you follow the helpful tips below.

Fixed-Term Lease or Month to Month Rental Agreement

Most every lease will be a fixed-term lease; the average duration of a lease is one year but can be as long as two years. There is no set number of months required to be in a lease; you can have leases for six months or 15 months if you and the landlord agree. The main difference between a fixed-term lease and a month-to-month rental agreement is that a month to month rental agreement automatically renews every month unless it is canceled with a notice given a certain amount of time before the property is vacated. It is crucial to decide whether you want a fixed-term lease or a month-to-month rental agreement before renting an apartment.

What You Owe at Lease Signing

When you sign a new apartment lease, you should be prepared to pay at least two to four times your monthly rent. This money will go towards paying your rent, including some upfront, a security deposit, and sometimes a broker’s fee or moving fees. When you sign your lease, be prepared to pay for all of these things.

Lease Guarantors

Suppose you’re concerned that you can’t find a landlord who will sign a lease with you because you fear you don’t earn enough money or don’t have a good enough credit score. In that case, you might be able to have someone like a relative or good friend help you out by signing the lease as a guarantor, someone who is also legally responsible for paying for the apartment lease and any damages if you cannot.

Unfair Lease Rules

More often than not, some tenants will find that a certain lease requirement is unfair. Check with your landlord before you disregard the rules as sometimes you may be able to get the rules changed but ignoring them entirely could also get you kicked out.

Breaking Your Lease

If you are a renter with a fixed-term lease and you need to break it early there are some ways you can do so without incurring any penalties or fees, but this is very rare. If you must break your lease, find out from your landlord the ways in which you can do so without having a fee or at least minimizing any fees or penalties you will have.

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