Don’t put pen to paper just yet! At least not until you do some homework first on that rental agreement first. Remember, once you sign that lease, barring some seriously extenuating circumstances, you’ll be locked in until your rental term expires.

So what can you do to ensure that your living space will be a happy one? Here are some tips to help you feel better about signing your rental agreement.

1. Inspect the premises during your first visit.

Checking out the rental space for the first time should be more than just seeing the place you will be living. Inspect it as if you were the landlord making sure that the outgoing renters cleaned up and did not damage the property too much. Document everything. Damage on the wall? Take a picture. Carpet stains? Take a picture.

If you can, make sure that everything works as it should. Bring your phone charger along and test out all of the outlets. Check on the water pressure in the sinks and shower. Flush the toilet once or twice. These little things could make a big difference once you’re in.

2. Do homework on the landlord and rental area.

Yelp can usually be a great way to see if the space you’re moving into will work for you. But if you’re renting a room in a house, try to chat with people that are either currently living there or on their way out.

3. Make sure terms discussed are in writing and printed in ink.

Especially the move in date and leasing terms. Sometimes landlords or property managers will have spots on the lease where move in and move out dates can be written in. Try to get the dates printed on the lease instead of written in if you can.

4. Ask questions about certain terms.

What’s the pet policy? Can the locks, doors or windows be changed? Can you hang decorations on the wall? Does the rent include utilities? Do you need renters insurance? How soon can you move in? What is the late fee if you miss rent?

Most importantly: What are the outs of the lease? How much would it cost to break the lease if you need to? Can exceptions be made?

5. Read the lease.

It sounds like simple advice but you’d be surprised how many people don’t read what they are signing. That is a big no-no, especially when it comes to renting. Make sure you know what you’re getting into. Always read before you sign anything. Always!

6. Know your rights as a renter. Understand state and local laws.

For example, landlords are required to provide tenants with maintenance. You can always Google “state rental laws” to see what might stick out as illegal clauses in your lease.

7. Establish a good relationship with your landlord.

At the end of the day, a tenant and landlord have a business relationship. The tenant wants a great place to live and the landlord is trying to capitalize on an investment. You two will be locked into this business relationship for the duration of the lease. Might as well try to establish a positive business relationship! You never know how the landlord might waive late fees if your paycheck falls on a day after your rent is due.

About Thayer Innes and Freeman Bunting Insurance Agencies

At Thayer-Innes Insurance Agency and Freeman Bunting Insurance Agency, we strive to provide comprehensive insurance solutions to support Ann Arbor homeowners. Our homeowners’ policies can be tailored to meet your specific risk exposures and provides much more coverage than a traditional policy, giving you the peace of mind you deserve. For more information about our products, contact us today at (855) 395-6316.