Go to navigation Go to content
Phone: (404) 474-0804
Jason R. Schultz P.C

Tips for Renting an Apartment: 10 Things to Look for Before Signing a Rental Agreement

Renting an apartment is a big deal. Depending on your lease, you might be stuck there for months or even years. To ensure you know what you are getting before you move in, check out these 10 tips for renting an apartment in Atlanta.

Tip #1: Never Rent "Sight Unseen"

Always go in person to check out an apartment before signing a lease agreement. Regardless of how good the apartment complex looks on its website, we all know that photos posted online are not always accurate.

The photos might be from when the apartment complex was newer. The condition of the complex might have deteriorated due to poor maintenance since the photos were taken.

Walk through the complex, looking for areas that need repair. If you see things that are broken, or areas that need painting or updating, you should be concerned about whether the landlord keeps the property in good, safe condition.

Spend enough time at the complex to be able to determine if the neighborhood is safe and if the building where your future apartment is located is secure.

Tip #2: Talk to the Neighbors

While you are at the apartment complex, ask the people who already live there about the neighborhood.

Is it safe? Have they been the victim of crime while in the area? Is the complex noisy? Does the landlord keep the property clean and safe? Have they had a problem with bugs?

Find out if the landlord does repairs promptly. Are the manager and maintenance crew responsive to problems? 

Tip #3: Read the Lease Agreement

Do not ever assume the property manager will give you a lease agreement that is fair to you, much less one that is in your best interests. The owner, not you, paid to have the lease agreement written.

Expect the terms of the lease agreement to be beneficial for the landlord, not you.

If something in the lease is up to interpretation, go with the worst-case scenario. If the worst-case scenario on a particular term in the lease agreement is not acceptable to you, discuss it with the landlord or manager and see if he or she can change the wording to clarify it. Do not ever sign a lease agreement that has blanks where there should be terms written. 

Tip #4: Do not trust a verbal agreement

If you have any concerns about the apartment or about any terms that are in the lease agreement or should be in the lease agreement, discuss your concerns with the landlord before signing the lease agreement. Make sure that everything of importance is included in writing on the lease agreement itself.

A lease agreement is about real property. The law requires that agreements concerning real property be in writing to be enforceable. If the landlord is ethical, he will not mind putting his promises in writing. If he will not put them in writing, you will not be able to enforce them — and he knows that.

Tip #5: Know What to Look for in an Older Building

If the apartment complex is older, ask the landlord if there is any asbestos or lead-based paint anywhere on the complex. Make sure the landlord puts his statements about asbestos and lead-based paint in writing.

Tip #6: Pets

Pets are a frequent source of conflict when people are living in close quarters at apartment complexes. Make sure the landlord's pet policy is in writing.

Can you have a pet? Is there a limit on size, number, breed, or species? Are there leash laws or rules requiring you to pick up your animal's waste? Do you need to pay a pet deposit or pet rent? If so, how much is it? Is it non-refundable? 

Make sure the lease covers the issue of other people's pets. Are they allowed to roam free, even on your patio? What are the consequences if other people's pets damage or soil your items or patio? How diligent is the apartment complex about making sure animal waste does not accumulate in the common area.

Tip #7: Parking

Parking can be a huge issue at apartment complexes. Will you have an assigned space? How many? Is there a fee? Where will guests and visitors park?

Tip #8: Utilities

Find out if the lease agreement discusses utilities. Are any utilities included in the monthly rent? Are there limitations on the amount per month? If any utilities are shared among the complex, find out how the complex calculates it. Will you be responsible for paying water, trash, or sewer bills?

Tip #9: Security Deposit

Check the lease agreement to make sure the amount of security deposit the manager quotes you is the same as in the lease. Make sure all the terms concerning the security deposit are in writing.

Is the deposit refundable? Under what circumstances can the landlord keep your deposit? How soon does the landlord have to return your security deposit after you move out?

Tip #10:  All's Well That Ends Well

Finally, make sure the lease agreement contains all the information you need to move out smoothly when you are ready to live somewhere else. When and how do you have to give notice? Make sure you write, sign, and date the notice, and request a signed and dated acknowledgement that he received it.

Even if you enjoyed living at the apartment complex, a move-out filled with conflict can tarnish your happy memories of the place.

Even if your apartment seems perfectly safe, accidents and injuries happen. If you were injured due to possible negligence at your apartment complex, call a premises liability attorney from the Law Office of Jason R. Schultz today at 404-474-0804 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.


Live Chat