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5 things to remember before you sign your first lease

Renting your very first apartment can be exciting, but it can also be scary at first. It’s one of the first steps of adulthood — getting your own place where you can do (almost) anything you want. Here are a few things to remember before you choose where you want to live and before you sign your lease.

Are utilities included in my rent?

This is one of the most important questions to ask before you decide to rent. Some apartments pay for all of your utilities; water, electric, gas, trash, heat and internet services. Other places may pay for some of your services, but services such as electric or gas may need to be put in your name because you will be paying them yourself. It’s important to know everything you will need to pay once you start living there. 

Have pets? Ask first.

If you plan on having pets in your new apartment, be sure to ask your new landlord first. Some places may not have a pet fee, others do. Some apartments will require you to put down a pet deposit, and they may ask for monthly pet rent as well. If you have a dog, many apartments have breed restrictions, so keep that in mind.

Bring your checkbook or money order with you.

If you’re signing a lease, it’s more than likely you will be making a payment at that time. Your landlord will usually ask for the first month’s rent and a security deposit, so you’ll be handing over a big chunk of money. If you have checks, bring your checkbook with you. If not, you can easily purchase a money order from a grocery store to give to your landlord. Once you’ve made a payment, make sure you get a copy of a receipt for your records. 

Make sure your roommate is on the lease.

If you plan on having a roommate or multiple roommates, be sure to get them on your lease. They will need to sign the lease and make their own payments as well. It’s important to have everyone living in the apartment on the lease, so everyone is responsible for the apartment. If you plan to sublet your apartment at any time, be sure to go over your landlord’s rules.

Double-check your lease before you sign.

It’s always important to read your lease thoroughly before you sign it. Make sure it has the correct rent amount that you agreed on, what time of the month your rent is due on, your landlord’s contact information, what utilities are included with your lease, and rules for your apartment complex. Remember, once you sign the lease, you’ve agreed to everything in the paperwork. If you skim over the lease, you may miss something important. 

Sara is an Integrative Public Relations Major at Central Michigan University. She hopes to work in a PR agency one day, managing social media for clients. When she's not reading yet another book from one of her three bookshelves, she can be found cuddling her cats, Luna and Selene. 
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