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The Do's & Don'ts of Signing a Lease

The Do's & Don'ts of Signing a Lease



One of the biggest signs that you are officially adulting is being able to rent your first apartment or buy a home. It signifies that you are able to have a steady income, stable credit, and save up money to invest into your new space. 

Since this is your first time signing a lease, there are certain do’s and don’t’s that you’d want to abide by to save you the most money and least headache...

Do: Ask Questions 



114 pages. 6 Point Font. No bold or Italic. With such an intimidating legal agreement before you.. It can definitely appear foreign.  

After the leasing agent briefly walks you through the document with “sign here.. Sign here… initial here.. Sign here”. You may be wondering what all of this means. 

Typically, leasing professionals can read to you the basis of the entire document in their sleep, skimming past sections and abbreviations. Because of this, especially with your first time, it’s important to  stop and ask questions if you need further explanation. 


Questions to ask: 

  • What happens in the event that I have to leave my lease term early?
  • How is my apartment insured in case of a catastrophe?
  • What type of modifications can I make to my apartment without violating the lease?

Some landlords will even let you take the lease home to read over in privacy before signing it. All you have to do is ask!  Asking questions provides clarity and removes confusion as you’d know your obligations in full. 


Do: Understand All Conditions:

In summary, a lease agreement explains your payment obligation to rent a space as well a list of rules to follow and penalties, if they are broken. There will be a long list of things on the premises -- failure to comply can result in a fine or an eviction. 

For example: 

  • No grilling on the patio or balcony
  • Pets in the home require pet deposit and/or pet rent
  • 60 day written notice before moving-out 

I’d imagine that you’ve worked extremely hard to save up and have your first place so you wouldn’t want to jeopardize it due to misunderstanding. More specifically, you’ll want to understand your rent, water, and/or gas bills which might all be included in your lease.


 Do: Have 3-6 Months of Rent Saved Up


Leaving the nest for the first time can be scary. The most logical thing you can provide yourself in that case, is security, and peace-of-mind. 

Although money doesn’t buy you happiness, the right amount wil:

  • Maintain your stability
  • In the event of losing a job
  • Having to take time off
  • Unexpected expenses. 

Getting an apartment (or renting a home) is a huge deal of responsibility. If not treated responsibly it could damage your credit, deplete all of your funds, or worse… leave you homeless. (See Do’s & Don’t’s of Credit Card) 


Don’t: Move before you’re ready


Some parents decide that once you graduate high school you need to either:

  1. Go away to college
  2. Enroll in Military   
  3. Move out by  certain date 

But if you have the option to stay with family and save up, do it! Doing so will give you backbone to maintain your independence permanently. 


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