Most of us blindly sign our lease renewal as quickly as we ‘Accept Terms & Conditions,’ on an app, but did you ever wonder what they could be sneaking into the fine print? Make sure to do your research about what other landlords are charging for similar apartments in your area, and consider the hassle of moving when thinking about renewing. Also keep in mind that your landlord would likely rather have you renew than have to spend time and money finding another tenant; in other words, the ball is in your court when it comes to renewing your lease!
Read on for our top tips to consider when renewing your lease!
- Prior Notice
Landlords are under no obligation to offer you a lease renewal, but if you’ve been a good tenant, most would rather have you renew than spend the time and money to find a new tenant. But be aware, if you do plan to vacate your apartment, almost all lease agreements require written notice (usually 60-90 days in advance of the end of your lease). How much notice you give differs by state, so check your state’s legislature. If you do not comply with the terms of your lease, your landlord is within their rights not to let you renew your lease and instead, put your apartment back on the market.
- Rent Increase
Landlords are usually required to give advance notice to tenants for rent increases above 5 percent (this 5 percent cap differs from state to state). But if you don’t let your landlord know that you’re planning to renew within the allotted time period, these terms go out the window. If you don’t comply with the renewal terms, your landlord is within their rights to raise your rent as much as they please, which means you could end up paying way more than you thought just to stay in your home.
- Negotiate With Your Landlord
If your apartment building is owned by a private, “mom and pop” business owner, it might be a good idea to negotiate your rent with them. If you’ve been a good tenant, try researching other prices of similar apartments in the area. If you find that other apartments similar to yours are going for a lower rate, negotiate a rent decrease with your landlord. If this doesn’t work, you can at least argue that your rent not be increased. This tip may not be possible if your apartment is owned by a large corporation.
- Damages & Security Deposit
Make sure that the language surrounding the security deposit and the penalty for any damages is the same as in your first lease. You can invite your landlord to inspect the apartment to ensure that there were no damages incurred during the first lease, and negotiate a lesser security deposit for the second lease. But above all, make sure that you are not liable for any extra damages.
- Consider a short-term lease
Moving is an expensive, time-consuming hassle, but signing another year’s lease is a big commitment. If you’re not sure that you want to commit to another year, you can see if your landlord will allow you to sign a short-term lease. Remember, it’s easier for them to let you renew than to have to put your apartment back on the market. Some landlords may let you do a short term lease (sometimes even month-to-month), but most will ask for a higher rent in this scenario. This is pretty typical of short-term leases, since the landlord wants to protect themselves in the event that you give them 30 days notice and they can’t get the apartment rented to another tenant in that time frame.
- Skim for any Changes!
Last but not least, read your new lease and compare it to the old one for any other changes! Print a copy of the old lease and bring it to the signing of your new one. Compare them side-by-side, section-by-section and ask questions. Are they going to begin requiring renters insurance? Are they no longer allowing pets? Are they updating or adding any amenities that would justify a possible rent increase? Make sure you understand all of the language in your new lease agreement and pay attention to any differences you see.