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A Maryland University of National Distinction
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Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

It is essential that as a new tenant you make sure that you fully understand the responsibilities involved with signing a lease. Before you sign your lease make sure you ask the following questions and that they are documented in the actual lease. If there are any additional things that you feel should be included in the lease, you can request that your landlord add them to the document.

  • boxAre there any application fees?
  • How long is the lease?
  • What are the costs for breaking the lease?
  • After the initial term of the lease, do I have to renew it or will I be able to lease month to month?
  • When is rent due and is there a grace period?
  • What is the penalty for late payments?
  • What utilities are included in the rent?
  • What is the approximate cost for utilities that are not included in the rent?
  • Are there any costs for setting up the utilities that are not covered in the rent?
  • Is the apartment furnished or unfurnished?
  • Is parking included in the rent or are there any additional parking fees?
  • Where is the parking area?
  • Are there any recreational facilities and are there any costs associated with using them?
  • How big is the hot water heater and is the hot water heater shared with any other apartments? (This is a relatively important question if there is a small heater, or if there is one shared with your neighbor who likes to take hour-long showers right before you have to get up, you may end up taking cold showers more often than you would like.)
  • How much is the security deposit? How much of the deposit is returned at the end of the lease? What will prevent me from getting my security deposit back?
  • Is sub-leasing allowed?
  • What happens if I accidentally break an appliance? How is routine maintenance completed for the unit? Are maintenance people on call 24 hours a day? If not, whom should you call if there is an emergency?
  • Am I allowed to paint the walls or hang pictures?
  • Am I allowed to have overnight guests?
  • What are the procedures if I decide to have a roommate later?
  • Is renters insurance required? Are there any noise level restrictions?
  • Where are the smoke detectors and do they work?
  • If there is no washer or dryer in the unit, where is the laundry room located and what is the cost?
  • Can you get cell phone reception inside the apartment?
  • Am I allowed to have pets? If I don't have one now and I get one at a later date, will my lease change?

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