What should I ask before signing a lease?

Whether you are a first time renter or a seasoned apartment resident, there are likely many questions you have for the leasing team about your future apartment home and community. How do you ensure you're asking all the right questions? We turned to PRG Real Estate's Senior Property Manager, Heather Powell, to find out what three questions you should remember to ask before you sign a lease.

PRG Real Estate's Senior Property Manager, Heather PowellHeather Powell
Senior Property Manager
PRG Real Estate

Can I see my apartment before I sign the lease?

Ask to see the apartment home you plan to reside in before signing the lease. This allows you the opportunity to choose a different apartment in the community if you decide the location isn't right for you. Once a lease is signed, the community can legally hold you to the lease.

It will also help for a smoother move-in day. Heather let us in on a rule she makes her team follow. She explains, "My team shows the prospect the apartment before they move in with both an office and maintenance team member. This way any concerns are addressed before the actual move. It ensures our resident is satisfied and makes move-in day seamless."

There are occasions where an apartment home is currently occupied and cannot be shown. If this is the case, be sure you are clear on what differences your apartment might have from the model. Often times apartment homes may have different upgrades, such as: wall color, appliances, countertops, and flooring.

Can I sign the lease before my move-in date?

"I recommend the lease be signed before the move-in date, as it gives you the time to focus on the policies of the community," Heather revealed. If you wait until your move-in date, you're likely to be thinking about the moving truck or when the cable provider will arrive. This is a legally binding document and should not be rushed. Don't be afraid to ask for a printed copy to take home and read thoroughly. Make notes of questions to ask the management team as you review the lease.

What are my lease buyout options?

When reviewing the lease terms, ask about your lease buyout options. Many renters assume they can break a lease if they decide to become homeowners. Florida does not institute a homeowners' clause, leaving a renter with two options.

  1. Continue to pay rent for your apartment until the lease ends or your apartment is rented to another individual.
  2. Pay a flat fee that determined by the community.

What is included in my monthly rent?

It is important to make sure you have a clear understanding of the charges due to the community and what is or is not included in your rent. Some communities bill residents for water/sewer/trash and charge per consumption. Other communities may charge a standard rate per month. Asking about this up front ensures you will be able to properly budget for your apartment rent, water, sewer, electricity, and still have some cash left to upgrade your cable package.

We hope being equipped with these questions you are able to sign your lease with confidence. Heather left renters with one piece of advice to help ensure residents continue to feel at ease once moved in, sharing: "As a property manager, I cannot stress enough, if there is a problem please bring it to our attention immediately. We are here to help, and cannot always know what is occurring if we are not told. Residents tend to feel as though they are bugging us… it is why we are here."

These are the opinions of writers and not the opinions of 407apartments.com or any of our advertising partners.