What Every Renter Should Do Before Signing a Lease

For some people, the rental agreement is a source of great anxiety. For others, it is simply a piece of paper they want to sign quickly so they can move into their new home. Rental leases are certainly quite important and should be carefully regarded. This is why it is important for you to properly prepare ahead of time.  I have often told Clients (quoting a much more senior attorney here) that 90% of what I can do for a client is only available PRIOR to the tenant signing the lease  agreement.

Thus, we have outlined six (6) things every renter should do BEFORE they sign on the dotted line.  

*) See An Attorney

No guessing games are being played here — you should contact the Laurent Law Office, P.L. as soon as possible.  This is so important that it merits something more than a number — an asterisk.  Because even if you are patient enough to read the lease, intelligent enough to actually understand it, and aggressive enough to ask your landlord to make appropriate amendments it is always best to discuss with an attorney that is practicing in the field.  One reason is that even if you have done all of the above — you may be completely unaware of a statutory amendment or binding Florida Supreme Court caselaw that may provide an unsuspecting interpretation or hold a certain part of the statute as unenforceable or unconstitutional. Law & Order is only a television show while this is real life — get an attorney and contact the Laurent Law Office at HLaurent@LLOLegal.com and 786.4543.7198.

1) Read EVERY word

Yes, leases are oftentimes incredibly dense and packed with confusing “legalese.” No one would ever confuse a lease with a thrilling New York Times best-seller. Nonetheless, the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself as a renter prior to signing your lease is to read it. Do not skim it, do not skip seemingly unimportant sections or feel pressured by the landlord to hurry through it. Read every word on every page.

2) Understand the lease

There is a big difference between reading and understanding. As we just mentioned, leases are full of legal terms and phrases that you may not understand if you don’t have a background in law. Make sure you understand everything you read. Leases are binding contracts and as such should be taken very seriously. Ask as many questions as you need to fully understand every clause, and you may even want to have a tenant-landlord attorney review the terms of the lease agreement before signing.

3) Add to the lease if necessary

To the degree that you can do not accept a verbal promise from a landlord as proof he or she will adhere to what they told you. If you negotiate a special condition such as allowing pets or that the landlord will fix something before you move in, make sure the lease reflects this in writing. If you want to guarantee that your expectations about the property will be fulfilled, they must be in writing within the lease.

4) Walk the property

If you can help it, never sign a lease for a property sight you have not independently personally and physically (not virtual) visited. You need to thoroughly examine the rental unit inside and out and check closely for damage or other issues. Photos and videos do not necessarily reflect the present condition of the property, so you need to have an in-person walkthrough before committing to signing a lease agreement

5) Research the neighborhood/commute

Not only should you closely examine the rental property, but also the surrounding neighborhood. Do your research and make sure the neighborhood is one you truly want to live in, as you will likely not be able to change your mind after signing the lease and moving in. Another factor to consider is your commute to work or other places of import. Time the drive from the potential rental unit to your place of business at rush hour and at other times. Once again, you don’t want to discover that your commute will be unbearable after you’ve already signed the lease.

6) Research the landlord

Whether you are looking to rent from an individual landlord or a property management company, conduct significant research on the internet to see if anything seems fishy. Look for online reviews or public court records that could indicate the landlord has had issues in the past with tenants. If possible, it is very important that you sign a lease with a reputable and trustworthy landlord.

If you are a renter looking to sign a lease on a property, and you have questions or need assistance, please contact the Laurent Law Office today and learn how we can help.

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Written by LaurentLawOffice


Laurent Law Offices, P.L. is committed to helping renters and landlords alike to achieve a fair and reasonable resolution to any dispute. Attorney Hegel Laurent has been a tenant for the vast majority of his life and he understands the intricacies of Landlord-Tenant law codified in Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes. He received his J.D. from the prestigious University of Pennsylvania Law School and he is passionate about representing both those who rent property or those who own rental property.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail.Click here for full disclaimer