You should never sign a lease agreement without reading it first. Even if you're not sure what all the legal jargon means, it's important that you ask the leasing consultant questions about things that concern you. More often than not, renters sign their lease agreement without reading it because they feel pressured to sign quickly in the leasing consultant's presence, and they're too afraid to ask about things that concern them.
Before you enter into this legal contract, you should review three things first:
1. Make sure everything that pertains to you and your specific lease is accurate
2. Make sure you understand who pays for water, trash, and sewer, and what the breakdown is
3. Make sure you understand the policy on the return of your security deposit
Keep in mind that you should fully understand everything on your lease agreement, but these three areas above are typically the most important to comprehend prior to signing it.
Leasing consultants often work off of a template that they've saved on their computer to generate your lease agreement. They manually enter in the information that pertains to you and your specific lease terms. Often times, the leasing consultant challenges to change a last name, a lease ending date, or even plans to change the apartment number. What would happen to you if you entered into a contract that ends 2 months from the date you moved in, but you thought you signed a full 12 month lease? If the consultant rented your apartment to another prospect, you have to move out, which is both costly and time consuming!
Who pays for water, trash, and sewer? How is it allocated to each apartment? Most apartment communities divide the cost of these utilities evenly among each apartment. What if the neighbors next door have 5 people living in their apartment using the water frequently, and you're stuck paying a higher bill because of it? I'm sure that would not make you happy, and it might even cause you to want to not move into that community!
Have you ever moved out of an apartment and owed money? I bet you did not know that it's typically the tenant's responsibility to pay for carpet cleaning, painting, and janitorial cleaning upon move-out … Most lease agreements have clauses that state the cost to the tenant go down the longer they return in the apartment. It's helpful to understand how long you need to stay in that apartment before you'll get your full deposit back, because if you plan on moving, and using that deposit for your next apartment, you may encounter a problem!
I hope this has helped to reiterate my point for reviewing your lease agreement prior to signing, as there are some things that should not be overlooked. Next time you're sitting in from your leasing consultant, do not let them pressure you, and make sure you fully understand what you're signing.