Looking at a contract is intimidating. Deliberately so, in fact; when lawmaker’s introduced legislation to make contracts more accessible and plain language, a group of lawyers lobbied to prevent it from passing. So, when you are confused and nervous about the rental contract in front of you, know that you are in good company, and make sure to keep an eye out for some important aspects.

1) Renewal Conditions
You need to know exactly what happens when your lease is up. Are you responsible for renew the lease, or does it automatically renew? If you do need to renew, what is the deadline to do so, and what are the consequences for missing it. Be particularly careful about a potential escalation clause in the contract, which will tell you if your rent can increase after your lease is up, and by how much. It might be as a percentage of your rent, relative to the cost of living, or simply a fixed dollar amount; it doesn’t really matter which, just know what the real dollar amount will be to you.

2) Cost to Leave
What will it cost you to leave the property? Is there any penalty incurred for breaking the lease? You never know what life will demand from you, so don’t put yourself in a position where you don’t have a way out.

3) Documented Condition
Is the condition of the rental documented? Does that documentation match up with your own walk-through of the property? You don’t want to be charged for a loose overhead light when you leave if it’s been like that since day one.

4) Utilities
How will the utilities be charged? Will you be responsible for all, some, or none of them on your own? What portion of utilities does the landlord cover, and how does that factor into your rent?

5) Insurance?
See what the contract has to say about insurance. Often, even if there is insurance, it’s only there to protect the landlord; if you’re still liable in certain situations, you might want to look into renter’s insurance.

6) Pet Policy
Nothing could be worse than showing up to your new apartment only to find out your beloved family dog isn’t allowed in. Even if you don’t have pets yet, make sure you know what the policy about pets in the contract is.

7) Other People
Are you allowed to have a roommate? What is the maximum occupancy for your space? Are you allowed to have guests over? If need be, can you sub-let your apartment? All important things to identify in the contract.

8) Security Deposit
What are the conditions that could prevent you from getting your security deposit back? It is very important to have it in writing because you don’t want to be prevented from getting it back. Potentially add in a time requirement, as some landlords, even if they have to give back the deposit, will drag their feet in doing so.

9) Everything is Negotiable
Contracts seem, to many of us, as tools of Them, that we can either sign or walk away from, like an iTunes waiver. In reality, contracts serve to protect both parties, and can be edited by both parties. You may not feel comfortable with this, which is why it’s always a good idea to have professional help. If you’re looking at Monmouth County homes for rent, then contact Sea Verge Oceanside Rentals for help navigating the treacherous world of rental leases.

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