Whether you are renting an apartment, a house, or a condominium you likely signed a lease when you moved into the place you call "home" and it may be time for you to renew that agreement. There are considerations you need to take into account before just signing your name "on the dotted line" again.
Does Anybody Read Their Lease?
Many renters sign leases and other legal documents without reading them from word one to the signature line. A house or apartment lease can contain many stipulations that you should familiarize yourself with. Even if you signed a lease last year, you should still read the new lease. Changes get made in rental property rules and regulations and you need to have a thorough understanding of what you are agreeing to when you sign your name to the document. Remember, any time you sign your name to a legal document it is legally binding.
Most lease agreements are standard but do not make the mistake of thinking you know what is on the document. Read every word. Leases don't normally have a bunch of "legal speak" in them. Don't be afraid to read it yourself. The items you need to pay special attention to are:
- deadline to notify your apartment management of your decision to renew
- the method you should use to notify your landlord (writing or email?)
- date of lease termination
Mark Dates and Set Reminders
Be sure to make note of the date you need to renew your lease by. A lot of renters forget to do this and fail to notify their landlord of their decision to stay or go. If you procrastinate on making notification it can result in a lot of unnecessary stress. Set a calendar reminder in your phone for two weeks and one week before your deadline date so that you can make an appointment with the leasing agent or landlord for your property. This gives you the assurance that you won't lose your home or apartment because you missed the deadline date for notification. If you renew your lease early, you that you're residence is secure for at least another year (possibly two).
Renewing Your House or Apartment Lease Saves Money
Some landlords, complexes, and management companies offer discounts if you do an early renewal on your lease. A common discount is that your twelfth month is free. Also, add up how much it will cost you to move and you will see that it financially makes sense to renew your lease agreement (unless there are some serious problems with the property you live in). Moving costs should include:
- rental of a moving truck
- purchase of moving supplies
- possibly paying friends to help you move
- buying food and drinks for yourself and your crew on moving day
- security deposit and first month's rent on new property
Find Out What Your Apartment Is Worth
This doesn't mean finding out the actual value of your house or your apartment. This means comparing the cost of renting your place compared to other rental properties of the same size and quality in your immediate area. Search for the market in rent in your neighborhood or zip code. If your rent has increased and it's more than comparable properties in your geographical area, you will have a bargaining tool when it comes time to renew your lease.
Less Stress is More Peace
Moving is a stressful situation. You have to transfer your utilities, turn in a forwarding address to the post office, and if you have cable you have to switch your service to your new property. The physical exertion required to pack up your entire life in boxes (carefully to be sure nothing breaks) and to move everything on the actual moving day is sometimes just too much if you like where you're living already. Moving causes a lot of headaches and body aches. This is a personal energy investment if you decide to move. Ask yourself if it's worth the difference in rental rates or property before you make the decision on whether or not to renew your agreement.
Build Relationships Where You Live
When you establish residency somewhere you need to build good working relationships with the management of the property. It is also imperative that you get to know the maintenance team. If you're a good tenant, you pay your rent every month by the due date, and you have never had any domestic situations or caused any problems in your community then you should be treated as such. Property owners appreciate good tenants and will likely be more than happy to renew your lease.
Read That Lease One More Time
Read your lease one more time. Be sure you have read all the specifics and make your reminders for next year. Make sure there are no loopholes or portions of the lease you don't comprehend. Before signing, ask your questions and be sure you know exactly what you're signing.