Before you sign your rental agreement take the time to read this guide so you can make sure it’s fair and honest!
Signing a lease agreement as a renter may not be as serious a matter as signing your mortgage papers but it’s NOT a trivial, nickel-and-dime matter either.
The lease agreement that you’re presented with is a binding document in the court of law.
And… trifling with it may come to haunt you as a horrible mistake.
But many don’t realize that.
Being caught in the excitement and haste of moving into a new home, many renters don’t bother with auditing the details of their rental agreement…
Never realizing they might be signing themselves into REAL trouble!
So, below are the FIVE red flags to look out for before you sign your lease agreement. They are dead important so make sure you read through them all!
1) See Any Unfamiliar Numbers?
Well, most of the renters are not experts in analyzing a lease document… especially all of its puzzling numbers.
Not everyone is a numbers guy, and that’s fine.
But, since a lease paper is loaded with tons of dates, addresses & monetary amounts many renters simply let them go without tracing each figure back to its source.
That is where they dig their own grave!
If you choose to go without a property broker, as most renters do, make sure you double check every number showing in the lease.
And if you notice any non-refundable deposits, peculiar or excessive fees, or any number that just doesn’t seem right, don’t wait until you move in to bring it up with your landlord…
At that point, chances are you won’t be able to do anything about it.
So double-check and inquire about any numbers in the lease agreement before you sign.
2) Does the Lease Seem Incomplete or Non-Standard?
Sometimes a lease may seem non-standard – as if there’s something out of place.
Sad but true… shady landlords will try out different ways to fiddle with a lease document for their ulterior motives.
But you’ll never be able to spot these discrepancies until you get familiar with standard leases for your state (or province)…
So, make sure you read about the landlord and tenant act in force where you live, and see what your lease agreement is supposed to look like:
- Landlord-Tenant Rights (for each US State)
- Landlord-Tenant Rights (by Canadian Province)
- Residential Lease Agreements (in each US State)
- Ontario Standard Lease Agreement
- British Columbia Standard Lease Agreement
3) Notice Any Strange Clauses?
Now, that’s a red flag that you MUST look out for!
Because you’d never want to be held hostage by strange, invasive, absurd, insanely restrictive, or selfish clauses that a wolfish type of landlord could build into the contract.
If you agree to such a clause on paper you can imagine the trouble you’ll be landing in…
Let’s give you some examples of such clauses:
“The tenant is responsible for all the repairs”
“The landlord has full access into the house at any time”
“The landlord has the right to change any provision in the lease at any time”
See the risks there?
So, you’d better double-check to see that all the clauses included are acceptable to you.
And, if you find an unacceptable clause (or clauses) don’t balk at putting it to the landlord straight away.
If things don’t take a turn for the better from there – this is your sign walk away from the deal.
No house or apartment is worth that kind of trouble.
4) What is the Source of the Document?
Most landlords don’t make up their tenants’ rental agreements from scratch. In fact, many just download easily available, generic lease contracts on the internet.
The thing is, sometimes they will download them from a reputable source (like the state and provincial contracts linked above)…
And other times they will download from unfamiliar websites that might have non-standard documents.
So before you sign, make sure the contract comes from a source that’s approved by the local rental association and is customized and in line with the laws of your state, city, county, or neighborhood.
If you find any unusual points in the contract, talk about them with the landlord or seek help from a local tenant’s union or an attorney to be clear on what should or shouldn’t be there in the agreement.
5) Are HOA Rules Mentioned?
Sometimes a landlord may not let you in on the Homeowner’s Association (HOA) rules, which leads to an off-putting surprise after you’ve signed the deal.
The HOA rules can be very irksome to many since they can come with extra fees, and can restrict tenants’ freedom even more than their landlord’s lease!
Like, you can’t put anything on the balcony, can’t paint your house a particular color, you can’t park your bike in front of the building, do this, don’t do that, blah blah blah…
Although HOA rules are for the harmony of a housing society, many just won’t get along with them.
So, if the landlord hasn’t handed you a copy of the HOA rules attached with the contract, ask for it and before you sign anything – review the extra HOA terms and conditions thoroughly!
The information in this article will help you spot the 5 red flags that might be present in your lease.
You also learned what to do if these discrepancies are found and how to avoid them with some preventative measures – like a discussion with your landlord.
Now, when you’re ready to lease a home you love, take a look at the beautiful and affordable apartments and houses for rent on AQRE Home today!
AQRE Home lets you communicate easily with the landlord directly from our built-in app, and review all documents and contracts online before signing…
So make sure you use this opportunity to carefully review before you (electronically) sign the dotted lines!
After all, a lease is nothing more than paper, but it can be the difference between a smooth rental experience and a landlord that makes you want to pack up and move again.