How to Sign a Lease for an Apartment

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It's spacious, has plenty of closets and is in a great location--you've found the apartment of your dreams. Now, all you need to do is sign the lease. But before you sign your name on the dotted line, there are a few things you need to do before entering into a legal, binding agreement.

  • Submit an application. Many apartment complexes require an application to check your credit score and ensure you'll be a good tenant. Generally, there is a fee, and this must be paid up front. The application also asks for references and contacts for previous landlords.

  • Look at the lease document in advance. Once you decide to take an apartment, the landlord or superintendent asks that you sign a lease agreement, which includes legally binding clauses. If it is not offered to you, ask for a copy so you have the time to read through it before you sign.

  • Read the fine print. Determine the terms of the lease by looking for clauses that address the length of the lease, conditions that must be met such as on-time rent payments, pet ownership, repair policies and damages.

  • Ask a lawyer to review the lease language. If you are unsure if the lease is fair to you as a renter, have an attorney who specializes in real estate look over the document. He can determine if there are any clauses in the lease that you should be aware of or that may be improper.

  • Sign the lease, and present the security and rent checks. Set an appointment to sign. Turn in the lease document, and make sure you have sufficient funds to cover the security deposit and the first month's rent. Be sure to get a copy of the signed lease so you can file it with your important papers.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the renters' rights in your state when looking over a lease.

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