Before signing the lease on your first apartment, don’t forget to read the fine print. That’s where you’ll find the details of your responsibilities as a tenant. Failing to read them could cost you big money as a first-time renter.
Before moving in, the landlord or property manager will ask you to inspect the apartment and list any and all broken or damaged items. If a vinyl floor covering is gouged or torn, write it down. Dings or scratches on hardwood floors or cabinets, carpet stains, broken tile, defective blinds – all should be documented. Failing to turn in the list could leave you wide open for repair expenses when you’re ready to move out.
Landlord duties to the renter
The landlord is responsible for maintaining the exterior areas and ensuring that everything works properly inside your apartment, including all plumbing fixtures, the heating, and air conditioning system, and all appliances. In addition, the landlord is required to provide working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Tenants may be expected to provide batteries for smoke and carbon dioxide detectors, new light bulbs for fixtures, and new filters for the heating and air conditioning system. Check your lease or ask the landlord to be certain. If you rent a house with a lawn, you may be required to mow the lawn. This is typically a negotiated portion of a lease agreement. Pest control services are another option that may be the tenant’s responsibility, depending on the details of the lease.
When something breaks
If you, or a guest, break something due to negligence or carelessness, you must pay to fix it. When something breaks due to normal wear and tear, it’s typically the landlord’s obligation, unless the lease says otherwise.
Remove all pictures and hardware from the walls, then patch holes. Clean the interior thoroughly, including the insides of appliances, cabinet interiors and exteriors, and all other surfaces. Some leases require professional carpet cleaning.
Some landlords require that tenants keep the space in show-ready condition for potential future tenants. They may also require tenants to pay to keep the utilities in place until the last day of the lease period regardless of when the tenant moved out.
Don’t forget to notify the landlord of your new address so your security deposit can be returned. Most laws allow a landlord a minimum of 30 days to return it.
Related – Seven Tips for Being a Good Tenant