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11 Mistakes Every Tenant Should Avoid Before Signing a Lease

11 Mistakes Every Tenant Should Avoid Before Signing a Lease

Moving to a new location always brings excitement and a welcome fresh start. It’s refreshing to change the scenery. And when it comes to your lifestyle and your dwelling, it’s worth it to invest time and attention in order to choose the best rental property for your unique needs.

There are common mistakes to avoid when leasing a rental property. Pay attention to these, and all will go well. Ignore these, and it could cost you dearly.

1. Avoid moving in before taking detailed pictures of the property.

Document all places in which the property is damaged so you are not held responsible for them when you move out. Detail any portions of the property that need repairing and ask that they be attended to prior to moving into the property.

2. Avoid signing a lease without reading it completely

Grab your glasses and read the lease’s fine print. Make sure you understand what you are signing, and ask questions if something doesn’t make sense on the lease agreement. Verify the lease includes your move-in date, the length of the lease, the price of rent, and the amount of your security deposit.

3. Avoid paying more than you can comfortably afford in rent.

Don’t overestimate what you can afford, putting a strain on your finances as a result. Review your budget prior to signing a lease, and verify you have the necessary finances to live comfortably.

Savings, utility bills, entertainment, insurance, phone, vehicle loans, schooling, gym membership, groceries, gas, and vehicle maintenance all need to fit into your budget. The general rule of thumb is: spend a fixed percentage of your income on housing. Although everyone’s circumstances are different, it’s recommended that you spend below 30% of your monthly income (after taxes) on rent. Therefore, if you make $4,000 per month, your rent should be below $900. Avoid putting yourself into a financial strain, and learn to live within your means.

4. Avoid surprise rental rate increase.

Prior to signing a lease, ask the owner if there will be any changes in the rental rate during your lease period. If the rate will stay consistent for the full period of time of your lease agreement, make sure that’s in writing in the lease agreement.

5. Avoid potential disputes about who pays for what.

Before signing a lease, find out specifically what is included in the agreement and what is not. Find out whether you or your landlord are responsible for everything from the lawn care and trash pick-up to utilities. Avoid surprise bills by verifying in writing exactly which responsibilities will be yours and which will be your landlord’s.

6. Avoid moving into a neighborhood you don’t know much about.

Wise Tulsa renters take the time to invest in learning about the neighborhood where they plan to rent. They talk with potential neighbors, visit the neighborhood in the dark, take a walk in the neighborhood on the weekend, and get a feel for the safety and overall vibe of the area. They may even check with the police department about the crime rate in the area to verify future safety.

7. Avoid surprises in the new commute.

Check out the distance from potential rental properties to your place of work, and factor in the traffic flow at the time of day when you commute. Take time to count the cost of living in the new part of town you are considering by mapping out the commute to the grocery store, gym, and the places you enjoy spending your free time. If needed, verify if public transportation is accessible from the location you have chosen.

8. Avoid thinking you don’t need renter’s insurance.

Living in a rental property without covering your possessions by getting renter’s insurance is not wise. For a minimal monthly fee, you can rest at ease knowing your possessions are covered should a fire or flood occur. Your personal property, including things like computers, furniture, electronics, and bikes are all covered under renter’s insurance. Renter’s insurance covers losses caused by weather including: fire, storms, wind, hail, lightning, the freezing of a plumbing system, and the weight of ice, snow, or sleet. The insurance also covers losses caused by non-weather items like theft and vandalism.

9. Avoid making rental decisions based on square footage alone.

The layout of the rental property will greatly affect how functional the space will be for your lifestyle. A great layout can make the property seem much bigger than the square footage may indicate. While touring Tulsa rental properties, bring something with which to measure the space to verify your furniture will fit within its walls.

10. Avoid keeping your pet under the radar.

If you have a pet, let your landlord know it upfront, and find out the pet deposit amount. Everyone wants to do business with people who are honest and upfront, so work out the details of pet ownership in advance with your landlord. Everything will go much better if you are open about your pet.

11. Avoid surprises regarding penalties for early lease termination.

Of course, you plan to stay in the rental property the full length of the lease, but should a sudden shift in your work or family arise, and you need to terminate your lease early — you’ll be thankful to know the details in advance. Inquire as to if you can still get your security deposit back if you need to terminate the lease early.

Take time to do the above list, and you will be well on your way to a positive renting experience. You deserve the very best, and your due diligence prior to signing a lease will help you obtain the best possible fit for a fair price.


See our Rental Listings and call McGraw Property Management  and tell us what you’re looking for. Find out why Tulsa renters contact our agency to help secure the best property for their unique needs.

Posted by: Chris Swift on October 12, 2018
Posted in: Tenants