Skip to Content

5 Things to Look for When Signing a Lease

Unsigned Winston-Salem Rental Agreement ContractOne of the major slip ups a Winston-Salem tenant can make is not thoroughly reading the lease before signing it. This is a big problem due to the fact that no two leases exactly the same, and several landlords may add on things in the lease that you probably shouldn’t agree to. A lease is a binding legal contract, so only if a particular clause violates state law, you could find yourself responsible for anything from unauthorized guests to tree removal. Before you sign anything, read the entire lease heedfully. And, as you read through the lease, watch out for these five things in particular.

1.   Documentation of Property Condition

In preparation for signing a lease or moving into a new home, it’s vital to observe and check if your landlord has a system for documenting the property’s condition. This is significantly important; if you don’t have some measure to document the property’s condition before you move in, you could pay the price. To protect yourself, be certain to ask and learn as regards your landlord’s documentation process and take measures to report any existing damage before you move in.

2.   Termination Policy and Fees

Normally most leases cover a specific time period, but indeed, others may renew on a month-to-month basis. Irrespective of which technique your lease utilizes, it’s relevant to know for certain the specified policy related to closing or canceling the lease and what fees might be involved. Most leases may require advance notice that you’re leaving, often 30-60 days. But there are others who may charge serious penalties for terminating a lease. To cite an instance, if you sign a 12-month lease but then need to move after six months, your lease may require you to pay a cancellation fee, the remaining rent on the contract, or both. You may likewise forfeit some or all of your security deposit. Since every lease is different, it’s imperative to read these policies meticulously and, if you have any concerns or questions, air them out before you sign.

3.   Roommates and Subletting

One usual misperception about renting a home is that a renter has the right to sublet all or part of their home to others. However, quite a lot of leases include clauses that strictly forbid renters from doing so. If you had been planning to sublet your home during an extended absence or get a roommate to help you with the rent, you’d need to check your lease closely to make sure that it is acceptable. The last thing you need is to be caught illegally subletting your place – that can cause you to be evicted or held financially responsible for any damage your illegal tenant may have created while residing in the residence.

4.   Pet Policy and Pet Fees

If you are going in search of a new home for not only yourself but also for a precious pet, it’s essential to check your lease thoroughly for your landlord’s pet policy. Making an effort to hide a pet from a landlord that doesn’t permit them on the property is not an ideal plan – quite a lot of tenants who try this always end up being discovered. If pets are approved, there may be additional fees or a deposit required. You should equally determine to identify and see if that deposit is refundable if your pet doesn’t do any property damage. The only exception is if your pet is a service or emotional support animal. In that case, your landlord must accept the animal on the property and cannot charge you additional fees. If you are in this particular situation, discuss it very clearly with your landlord to avoid any troubles moving forward.

5.   Cleaning and Other Responsibilities

As you read through the lease, take very careful note of which responsibilities are assigned to whom. In the majority of leases, the landlord will provide several services while requiring you to do others. A lot of customary duties many times (but not always) given to a tenant involve lawn maintenance, light bulb replacement, utilities, and cleaning. Quite a lot of landlords, though, elect to provide these services and have the property cleaned professionally between tenants. Others think and expect the tenant to do it themselves or bring in their own professional cleaning company to get the job executed. Either way, you need to find out your assignments and resolve whether you are comfortable doing them before you sign the lease.

Conclusively, it’s imperative to take the time to read your lease carefully. Be sure that you know and understand, and ask for clarification, as needed. Certain parts of your lease may be negotiable, so if it states things you don’t want, consider asking your landlord for revisions. You are the one who has to bear with the lease terms and the more you know and understand, the fewer surprises you’ll run into by and by.


While doing research on every potential income property is a lot of work, Real Property Management of the Triad can help lighten your load. We offer free rental property analyses for investors, which can help you more easily identify whether the income property you want to buy is a profitable option. Contact us online or call us at 336-355-6677 or 336-777-7444 to learn more!

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

The Neighborly Done Right Promise

The Neighborly Done Right Promise ® delivered by Real Property Management, a proud Neighborly company

When it comes to finding the right property manager for your investment property, you want to know that they stand behind their work and get the job done right – the first time. At Real Property Management we have the expertise, technology, and systems to manage your property the right way. We work hard to optimize your return on investment while preserving your asset and giving you peace of mind. Our highly trained and skilled team works hard so you can be sure your property's management will be Done Right.

Canada excluded. Services performed by independently owned and operated franchises.

See Full Details