What To Do Before Signing A Lease

Jun 03, 2022 Buying A Home

With home purchase prices at an all-time high, renting may be the way to go. Find out what five steps to take before signing a lease.

A woman packing up moving boxes and smiling

After finding the perfect rental to live in, the next step is signing a lease. Before you sign, be sure to review the lease details. The lease is designed to protect the renter and the landlord, so you need to understand it fully. Here are five steps to take before signing a lease.

Steps To Take

Note Any Previous Damage

You’ll need to pay a security deposit and the first month’s rent when signing a lease. The deposit is usually the same amount as a month of rent. To get the money back when you move out, you want to ensure you don’t cause any damage to your rental OR get charged for damage caused before you moved in.

When touring rentals, take notes of any damage you see, such as a carpet stain or crack in the walls. Before signing a lease, make sure both you and the landlord have a signed copy of the list detailing the damages. If, however, you don’t review the damages until after you’ve moved in, be sure to ask the landlord the deadline for which you need to provide a list of damages and be sure to take photos. Then, when it comes time to move out, you won’t be charged for anything broken that wasn’t caused by you.

Discuss Utilities & Fees

Some leases cover some or all of the utilities. Some do not. Check the lease to see which utilities will be your responsibility. You’ll need to figure out if you can afford the rent and utilities every month.

Ask the landlord about what happens if the rent is late. Leases typically grant about a three-day grace period for late rent. After that, there’s a late fee added to the due rent.

See If The Landlord Lives Nearby

Before signing the lease, ask if the landlord or property manager lives nearby. If there are any issues with the rental, make sure it can get resolved quickly. Remember, the landlord is allowed to enter your property, but they must give at least a 24-hour notice. Look through the lease to see if landlord visits are included.

Read The Fine Print

Read through the entire contract before signing it. You both want to be in agreement with the details. If anything is missing or needs to be changed in the contract, let the landlord know. Don’t rely on a verbal promise. Everything should be written down. After signing the contract, you and your landlord need to keep a signed, dated, and agreed-upon copy for future reference. Having that copy notarized will provide additional protection. If you have concerns about the contract, seek legal advice from a professional.

Do Your Research

If you’re trying to stay within a specific budget, you want to find the best rental for the price level. Compare prices online to make sure you’re getting a good deal. If you’re in a city where rental demand is high, search for a property during weekdays. Some landlords may list the rent higher during the weekend because more people are searching for homes.


It’s necessary to understand and agree to the terms of your lease. Doing so will save you headaches if there are any issues with the rental. Make sure to communicate with your landlord to create an effective, professional relationship.


Copyright BALANCE

A couple packing up a moving box.
Life Guidance for:

First-Time Homebuyer

Buying a home is a big deal, especially the first time around. Use these recommendations to prepare your finances, move through the application process, and know what to expect at closing and beyond.

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