Leasing an Apartment
Once you have found the apartment of your choice, you receive a lease agreement. Leases are usually one-year term or 6-month term. So, ask the landlord about the term of the lease. Your rental agreement or lease should be in writing and you should ask for a copy from your landlord. Read it thoroughly and be sure you understand the terms of lease completely before signing it. If there is any language you do not understand, ask a reliable person to explain it to you. At a minimum, a lease or rental agreement should include the following:
- Rent amount
- Required damage deposit
- Length of time the lease is valid for
- Apartment rules
- Lease termination rules
- Landlord’s responsibility for repairing damages
Be sure to thoroughly check the apartment for any damages before moving in. Check all plaster on walls, rugs/floorings, cabinets, appliances, draperies, etc. Repairing these damages should be the responsibility of the landlord. You can tell landlord that your moving in is contingent upon completion of these repairs, and ask for a specific completion date in writing. If the landlord is not willing to make the repairs, at the least, be sure the damages are listed in the lease.
When you are ready to move out, make sure to leave the apartment in the same condition you rented it at first. You are responsible for any damages you cause to the property, and for this reason in most rental agreement there is a security deposit charge before you move in. If you leave the apartment in the same condition you first rented it, you could receive your full security deposit depending on your contract. Reasonable wear and tear are usually expected.
It is always good to pay rent and other payments by check, not cash. When writing with a check, in the Memo section, write the purpose of the check (e.g. rent for February). Make sure you get a receipt with the amount and date from your landlord, particularly if you are paying in cash. If you must pay in cash for rent, get a signed and dated receipt from the landlord.