New Rental Agreement? The 5 Things You Must Know Before Signing

Getting a new rental is fun and exciting but once the euphoria fades away it is important to guarantee your new rental truly works for you. Having a good relationship with your landlord is something all tenants hope for, and by following this simple guide, you can avoid headaches now and in the future. Ensure the joy doesn’t end by looking into these 5 Must-Knows before signing and move into your new rental with confidence. Once you have explored these important tips you can focus on what matters – like where the nearest coffee shop is!

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1. The Contract

It is exciting to sign a new contract and property managers, realtors and the like will try to get you to sign a contract as soon as possible. “It is a standard lease agreement,’ or ‘everyone else signed the same contract’ are common ways to get you to sign on the dotted line without reading through all the contract’s stipulations. This does not mean a landlord is trying to hide something, they just want to get paid as quickly as possible, but this tactic can end up limiting you, regardless of how fast you want to move in as well.


Make sure to read through the entire contract – every line, every word. Is electricity included? Do you need to pay for building maintenance? Ask around and figure out what is normal in your area to determine your expenses moving forward. Does the contract require a deposit, first and last month’s rent, as well as another fee for this or that? Understanding the renters’ environment where you are searching can help you negotiate as well as plan for your future expenses. In the beginning, take your time to understand what it is you are signing so you can enjoy your home without hitting any bumps in the road.

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2. Explicit Limitations

Many contracts specify certain rules that the landlord enforces to keep their buildings and units rental worthy. Some of these rules can include no smoking, no pets, no subleasing, or something as simple as no noise after 10:00 pm. Read through these and make sure they align with your lifestyle. Being dishonest to your landlord leaves room for issues that may arise in the future. If you have a dog – tell them! You don’t want your furry best friend living somewhere they are not wanted. By clarifying all of these small things ahead of time you can avoid fines, issues with your neighbors, and more importantly, maintain a good relationship with your landlord. On the plus side, if the landlord is not understanding or difficult to work with – you figured it out before any commitments and can jump ship if need be.

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3. An Exit Clause

Maybe you only want the unit for a short period or plan on leaving at an unspecified date. Contracts should have an exit clause and a clear way for you to understand what you can do, if and when life changes track. We all know work, school, and family throw curve balls at us – life isn’t as simple as a contract tries to make it out to be, so this is a very important point to consider.

Is the landlord trying to sell the place but you are living in it until those buyers come around? The contract should specify when they can show the apartment to potential buyers and how long you have to move out if they do indeed sell it. Do you need to move out early? Having an early exit clause in the contract will help you make those important life decisions with confidence. Normally these consist of if you plan to vacate they require 90 days notice, or if you are required to payout until the end of the lease. Regardless of the wording – read through and make sure these stipulations work for you.

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4. The Property

We know you are excited! But walking through the property with a fine-tooth comb and checking it for any issues is standard practice. When buying a home, new owners almost always require a home inspection before signing, and you should be conducting your own inspection as well. Be diligent in checking your new rental and guarantee you are getting what you paid for. Start by turning on all the faucets to make sure they are working and check that all the drains work as well. A flood due to a clogged drain is not something you want to worry about. Check the heating and air conditioning units to make sure they are up-to-par (and whether or not repairs are covered by you or the landlord). Turn on all the lights to make sure they work and that all doors and windows open, shut, and lock when you need them to. You are paying for a rental – and that rental should have the basic necessities – all in working condition.

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5. Meet the Neighbors

Those living around you in your new rental make a huge difference in the expected living conditions. Do you have a family next door? A newborn? Maybe college kids live in the apartment above? Everyone has different schedules and lifestyles but by understanding the neighborhood and types of tenants around you, you can avoid future issues and discomforts. Consider these things before singing and guarantee your comfort and the comfort of those around you for the most pleasant stay.

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6. Know Your Rights

The game of rentals can be fun and daunting – finding the right place at the right budget is no easy feat but by following this guide you can guarantee a happy, safe home without the red tape. Understand your rights as a tenant, what you are legally entitled to and the contract you are signing. Do your due diligence and reap the benefits of your work in your new, perfect rental.