When you're ready to rent your first apartment, you (along with the landlord or property manager) will sign an important legal document known as a lease. This document will outline all the rules and regulations of your lease agreement, so it's important to read it thoroughly before penning your signature. Furthermore, there are several important questions you'll want to ask before signing your first apartment lease to ensure the apartment is a good fit for your needs.
Is There a Grace Period on Rent?
Start by finding out when rent will be due; generally, most landlords will collect rent on a specific day each month (such as the first of every month). Be sure to find out exactly when you will be expected to make your rental payment and whether or not there is any kind of grace period. A grace period, if offered, typically gives you a few extra days to pay your rent without incurring any additional fines, penalties, or late fees.
What Type of Pet Policies Are in Place?
Whether you currently have pets or plan on getting them in the future, it's important to make sure your rental will accommodate them. Specifically, you'll want to find out if your landlord has any restrictions on breeds/types of pets, or if there is a maximum number of pets you can have in your apartment. Most landlords will also collect a pet deposit, which may be refundable or non-refundable--so plan accordingly.
Will I Be Able to Paint and Decorate?
If you'd like to make your apartment your own by painting and hanging up wall decorations or shelving, make sure you have your landlord's blessing before you do. Details and restrictions on painting and decorating should be outlined in your lease. Some landlords, for example, will allow you to paint so long as you keep the color neutral, and many will allow you to nail small holes in the wall so long as you fill them before you move out.
Do You Offer Referral Bonuses or Similar?
If you refer a friend to rent an apartment in your community, you may be eligible for a referral bonus in the form of a check, gift card, or even a one-time discount on your rent! Be sure to ask your landlord if referral bonuses are offered and, if so, how you go about collecting them. Make sure this information is also in your lease.
For more information on apartments near you, contact your local leasing office.