A lease is a contract that can be enforced in court against you and cost you thousands of dollars, so:
- Read the lease completely before you sign it
- It makes promises you are required to perform and restricts what you can do where you live
- Do not sign a lease on impulse and trust that everything will work out:
Take the lease home if you can and study it before you sign it. The apartment complex wants you as a tenant, so if the sales people pressure you to sign immediately, what will they be like later if you have a problem.
- Do not rely on verbal promises from the Apartment Sales Representative:
Later, the Sales Representative may claim that the promise was never made and the lease will probably contain a provision stating that there were no verbal promises made and that all the terms of the agreement are written down in the lease that you signed. If it is an important promise that induces you to sign the lease, make sure that it is added in writing to the lease before you sign it
- Do not rely on promises in a Sales brochure or flyer:
Remember, the lease will probably include that all promises made to you are incorporated in the writing of the lease. If a promise in an Ad is important to you, make sure the promise is either specifically stated in the lease or the flyer is incorporated in the lease as an attachment.
- Do not expect to walk away from the lease if you change your mind:
When you sign a lease, you are agreeing to stay there and pay rent for the entire period of the lease. It is not like buying a pair of shoes and returning them to the store a few days later. The store may return your money. Your new Landlord may charge you a stiff re-letting fee or even sue you for the rent you promised in the lease. Look closely at the lease to determine what damages you could be made to pay, if you break your lease.
- Do bring your own roommates, if possible:
Some apartments will offer to match you with roommates, but the lease will probably keep you in the apartment even if you later have conflicts with one of your new roommates. Even worse, the lease will probably make you responsible for damage done to the apartment by a roommate or a person visiting that roommate. Hence, if you go home for a weekend and a wild party hosted by a roommate results in damage to the apartment, the lease you signed and agreed to will make you just as liable as the roommate or their wild friend that did the damage. Even worse, if you can believe it, many leases will require someone like your loving parents to guaranty that you will comply with the lease. Accordingly, your parents could be sued for the damage done by the wild friend of the roommate, because out of love they signed the lease so you could be in that great apartment with the wonderful pool you liked so much. If you need a roommate, make sure the lease limits your liability for roommates or the roommate is someone you trust!
- Do ask friends and classmates about the apartment complex before you sign the lease.
A little investigation may keep you from repeating someone else’s mistake.