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5 Things to Look for When Signing a Lease

Unsigned Owasso Rental Agreement ContractOne major mistake an Owasso tenant can make is not reading the lease completely before signing it. This can be a very big problem because no two leases are exactly alike, and some landlords may stipulate things in the lease that you should not agree to. As a lease is a binding legal contract, unless the specific clause violates state law, you could have responsibility for anything from unauthorized guests to tree removal. You must read the entire lease carefully before signing it. As you review the lease, keep an eye out for these particular items.

1. Documentation of Property Condition

An important item to check before signing a lease or moving into your new home is the landlord’s system for documenting the property’s condition. This is very important; not documenting the property’s condition in some way before moving in could cost you dearly. Ask also for your landlord’s documentation process and report any existing damages immediately before moving in.

2. Termination Policy and Fees

Check if your lease covers a specific time period or if you have to renew it on a month-to-month basis. Whichever type of lease you have, it is important that you understand your landlord’s policy regarding ending or canceling the lease as well as the fees involved. Some leases only require 30-60 days advance notice that you will be leaving. However, others carry penalties for terminating a lease. For example, if you have a 12-month lease but you move out after six months, you may have to pay a cancellation fee, the remaining rent on the contract, or both. You may also forfeit some or all of your security deposit. Since each lease is different, you must read these policies carefully and address any concerns before signing.

3. Roommates and Subletting

Do not assume that renting a home gives you the right to sublet even a part of it to others. But many leases include clauses that strictly forbid renters from doing so. Before subletting your home or getting a roommate to help with the rent, you have to check carefully if your lease allows it. You don’t want to get evicted for illegally subletting your place or be held financially responsible for any damage caused by your illegal tenant while staying in the residence.

4. Pet Policy and Pet Fees

If the home you are looking for is also for a beloved pet, it is a must to check your lease for your landlord’s pet policy. Hiding a pet from a landlord who doesn’t allow them on the property is not a good idea, and most tenants who try this still get caught anyway. You must anticipate additional fees or a deposit for allowing your pet to stay. You should also check to see if your deposit is refundable if your pet doesn’t cause property damage. The only exception is if your pet is a service or emotional support animal. If this is the case, the landlord has to allow the animal on the property without charging any additional fees. If this is your situation, it is best to be clear with your landlord to avoid any problems later on.

5. Cleaning and Other Responsibilities

As you read through the lease, make a careful note of which responsibilities are assigned to whom. In most leases, these services are divided between the landlord and the tenant. Some common duties of tenants include lawn maintenance, light bulb replacement, utilities, and cleaning. Some landlords prefer that they provide these services themselves and have the property cleaned professionally before you move in. Others, though, expect the tenant to do these or hire a professional cleaning company by themselves to get it done. Whichever arrangement you have, you must know if you are comfortable with the responsibilities assigned to you before you sign the lease.

All of these show why it is important to read your lease carefully. Do not hesitate to clarify anything you do not understand. There could be parts of your lease that are negotiable so do not hesitate to ask your landlord for revisions. As you will be the one living with the lease terms, understanding them clearly will mean fewer surprises for you later on.


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