Top 10 questions to ask before signing a lease

Erika Puch

After months of searching you have found the perfect apartment: two bedrooms, a spacious bathroom and a garage. You can’t wait to move in.

But before rushing into a lease, there are 10 questions you must ask not only your landlord but yourself.

Can I live with my roommate until the lease is up?

This is important because roommate problems can lead to tense living situations. When choosing a roommate, consider sleeping, cleaning and other habits.

“You should never live with your best friend,” Christopher Boerum, junior political science major, said.

After only three months of living with his best friend, Boerum had to move out because of personality differences.

Does the neighborhood and surrounding community adhere to my lifestyle?

Carol Crimi, attorney at Student Legal Services, said the location of an apartment will make a big difference in what sort of behavior is considered acceptable. Look at the practicalities of the location as well as the neighbors, Crimi said. If neighbors would be upset if you’re playing loud music, for example, this could be a factor in choosing your apartment.

Will I be responsible for the rent if I move out?

Many student renters do not realize they are contractually obligated to pay for the duration of the lease even if they are no longer living in the rental unit, Crimi said. There are some exceptions to the rule such as military deployment. If you do need to move, communicate with your landlord as they may be able to find other options.

Can I be assured there will be adequate parking?

Cortney Ours, leasing director for Eagles Landing, said each resident of her complex is issued a parking pass and two temporary visitor passes per month. It is important residents keep these passes visible to limit the risk of getting towed.

Who is in charge of the maintenance?

According to the Ohio Bar Association, the landlord is obliged to supply a reasonable amount of hot water and heat at all times. General upkeep is also usually a responsibility of the landlord, but some rental units require that the tenant take care of the yard work. Ours said her staff handles anything in their tenants’ apartments that may need maintenance attention.

Can I take a tour of the rental unit before moving it?

If possible, always view the apartment before signing the lease. Crimi suggests testing the appliances to make sure they are in working condition and checking for leaks or cracks in the ceiling. Consider the form of energy. Is it electric, gas or both?

“I wish I would have seen the exact apartment I would be living in, instead of the demo,” Boerum said.

Who is responsible for paying the utilities?

Some landlords will pay some utilities, while others will not pay for any. Find out this information early, as you maybe able to shop around for the best deal. If your landlord bills you directly for the utilities, make sure you receive a copy of the actual bill, Crimi said.

How will I get my security deposit back and how long will it take?

Crimi said the best time to think about the security deposit is not at the end of the lease but at the beginning. Oftentimes renters may lose money out of the security deposit because of items such as carpet that may have been ruined before the tenant entered the rental unit. To avoid this problem, Crimi offers this advice.

“If it is in bad condition when you enter, make sure you document it,” Crimi said. She suggests taking pictures and immediately notifying your landlord.

Do I need a co-signer?

Depending on your credit and income, you may need a co-signer before you are able to rent. Co-signers and renters must understand and be aware of their responsibilities. Make sure your co-signer is only responsible for your actions, Crimi said.

Can you clear this up for me?

“Read the lease and make sure you understand it,” Crimi said. “Ask questions until you do.”

Contact Student Wellness and Recreation Center reporter Erika Puch at [email protected].