Things to keep in mind when APPLYING for a home. Part 2
Understanding your lease paper work is extremely important. Review every word and ask questions if you are not 100% sure of the meaning of a phrase. Leases use a lot a legal terms and wording which can leave you assuming the wrong idea about what is or is not covered in your lease. Here are a few key sections to focus on to make sure your crystal clear of their meaning before signing your lease:
- The date your rent is due. Most leases will show the 1st of the month as the rent due date. Some leases will give you a grace period before they charge a late fee for not paying. Please understand that the grace period is not a change on the due date. Rent would be due on the 1st consider late on the 2nd but no late fee will be charged until after end of said grace period. NOT ALL LEASES have a GRACE PERIOD. Read the lease fully to make sure there is not a specific time frame the grace period ends. Example- Late fees start after 5:00pm on the third. Many might take this as “ok, I can still drop it in the drop box” that night since the office is closed. I worked for a company where I would have to check incoming rent by 6:00pm every day and stay late to post rent. This means people would have late fees charged to the account since I would have the rent collected by the grace period listed on the lease.
- Double check the move in date. Is this date on a weekday or weekend? What will the office hours for this day be and can you make it to the office during these hours to pay rent, sign any final paper work and pick up your keys? It is the tenant’s responsibility to plan this out ahead of time. It can not be expected for a business to change the course of their daily routine for these situations. Planning for this can save a lot of frustrations.
- Double check your lease END date. Not all leases end of the last day of the month. Make sure it is not during a time frame where you may be out of town, gone on vacation, in the middle of school exams, during the craziest time frame for your workplace, the rainy season, etc.
- After checking your lease end date, make sure to find the section that talks about lease renewal or notice to vacate. This section will let you know how many days before your lease end date that YOU MUST give your landlord notification if you are planning on staying or leaving. Remember if you wait till the last day to tell the landlord you want to renew, and the landlord expects a rental increase, this doesn’t relieve you of being expected to give a notice. You should be reaching out to your landlord an extra 30 days before your notice is due to see what rental rate is offered.
- Check to see if your required to get renters insurance or not. Even if you are not, it is always strongly suggested and for a range of $15-$25 a month you can get same great plans that cover numerous types of incidents. You can normally save by bundling your renter’s insurance with your car insurance. I always love to give my personal example of my upstairs neighbor catching their unit on fire. Luckily, I was home and called the fire department, but when they had to hose down the unit, all my belongings were destroyed. To recoup my cost, I used my renter’s insurance. This saved me from having to sue the upstairs tenants. If I would have had to sue them I might not have seen any reimbursement and if I did get money back, it could take over 6 months or more.
- Read to see what/ if any HOA rules you must adhere to. These regulations can range from certain days the yard can be mowed, certain moving days, approved parking areas (some might not allow street parking), what trash days you can have your garbage cans out, etc. There are many small rules that can result in fines and even eviction if not followed.
- SUBMITTING MAINTENANCE REQUEST. Most leases will note that any request must be put in writing. Some companies have an online poral for you to submit request. Make sure to know the rules and procedure since if not followed your request can be delayed.
*****If the company has a 24-hour emergency number, STOP and PLUG IT IN your phone immediately. Also send the number to your email and link it to a folder label Emergency Maintenance. ******
It sounds like a simple idea, but it is a life saver when your trying to balance getting a hold of the office while handling an emergency. Knowing exactly were this number is and what number it is will make all the difference.
- Move-in Inspection Form. Most leases will note that you have seen the home/unit and know that it is in habitable condition. It is assumed that the appliances, a/c and structure of the home is all in good condition. (Good does not mean NEW or Prefect). This is where I would have the management notate that I have seen the unit but have yet to perform a move in condition form. This is simple and normally not a problem to add as a lease addendum. If the landlord does not give you an inspection sheet, then you still need to perform a move in inspection that covers each room of the home. Even better is to take clear photos to go along with your inspection. The more photos the better. Take shots of the entire home and not just items that are wear and tear. You should highlight these areas in photos so that come move out time if you are charged for these items you have the proof to show they were preexisting. You must submit this form to the landlord. Normally there is a time frame listed on the form. If a form was not given I would complete the inspection within 48 hours. Send it via email to the owner so that there is evidence of them receiving it. Having a paper trail is everything. This helps settles any I said verse landlord said arguments. If any dispute goes to judgment, what is in writing with have the most clout.