The most important things to avoid before signing a lease

s: I’m thinking about moving into an apartment building and was thinking about choosing one of the new luxury buildings that are going up all over the place. I haven’t rented in decades, and I’m wondering what I should check in the lease in order to protect myself. Are there certain issues I should be aware of or conventions I should avoid? Any guidance you can provide would be appreciated.

a: There are many things to consider when you are thinking about renting an apartment.

The first issue is to do some research on your landlord by doing a background check and doing a simple online search to look for the name of the building, the owner’s name, the management company, or the address of the building. The landlord can be an individual, a company or several investors, and they may have an individual manager or letting agent who deals with tenants in the rented building.

Many landlords hire a leasing company to handle everything from leasing to maintenance on their buildings. There may be a specific individual or company that the rent is being paid to, and there may also be a process service agent listed so you can do an online search for that person or company.

The second thing is to go to the apartment you are going to rent and view it several times before committing to it. The apartment complex may not be crowded during daylight hours when tenants are at work, but it may be very busy in the evening. By viewing the place during the day and then again in the evening, you will get a better idea of ​​how busy the place is and also whether there is enough off-street parking for you or your visitors.

You should talk to tenants who already live in the building and preferably someone who lives near the unit you will be renting. Some good information you can learn from your potential neighbors is the noise level in the building, if there is a problem with neighbors or management concerns, how quickly the landlord will make repairs and whether or not it is a good place to live.

The third problem is to carefully review the lease contract before signing it. If you do not understand certain terms or conditions, please feel free to contact me or another attorney for an explanation. If your landlord does not provide you with a lease or makes excuses about giving you a copy of the lease, this is a warning sign for you to reconsider renting an apartment there.

Many leases have a term of one year, which means that the rent cannot be increased during that year before the term of the lease expires. Before you sign a lease, find out what amenities are included in your rent and which come with an additional fee such as indoor garage space, pool, exercise room, children’s play area, BBQ area, guest parking, bike storage, utility laundry, media room and garden. Community, dog park and any other services.

Typically, you’ll pay a security deposit and first month’s rent when you sign a lease, so it’s important to make sure you have the financial resources to do this. It’s also important to know what utilities or other expenses are included in your rent payment and which are not. These utilities or expenses can include water, heat, electricity, trash, cable, and Internet.

If you have a pet, you need to make sure they are allowed in your rental unit and throughout the property, as well as know the pet rent and pet deposit before signing a lease. You should ask whether management offers a discount or incentives for signing a one-year lease, such as $100 off rent for the first six months or one month of free rent if you sign a one-year lease.

Another tip to keep in mind when reviewing a lease is whether or not there is a buy-out clause. If you need to move before your one-year lease expires and there is a buy-out clause in your lease, you will be allowed to pay two months of rent to end your lease early.

Finally, make sure the rental apartment is located in a neighborhood you like and feel safe in, that the apartment is the right size and that the place is reasonably priced with the amenities you want.

Kelly Klein is an attorney in Minneapolis. Participation in this column does not create an attorney/client relationship with Klein. Do not rely on advice in this column for legal opinions. Consult an attorney regarding your specific issues. Email rental questions to Information provided by readers is not confidential.

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