Lease Checklist: what to look for before you sign

Leases are legally binding documents. It is important to read the ENTIRE lease and make sure that you understand it in its entirity before signing. Follow the checklist below of important things to look for in your lease agreement: 

  1. Rent: How much you owe each month and how it is to be paid. Montana law states that rent is due at the beginning of the month. The lease should specify exactly what is included in your rental payment (utilities, garbage, disposal service, etc.)
  2. Security Deposit: The security deposit is supposed to be paid before you move into your rental. Security deposits generally amount to about one month's rent; however, in Montana there is no limit as to what the deposit can be. 
  3. Landlord/Tenant responsibilities:  Who is responsible for what in regards to upkeep of the property. You will want to be sure that it clearly states who is responsible for lawn care, snow removal and trash pick-up.
  4. Late fees: the rental agreement should explain what the landlord's policy is regarding late rental payments. When is the payment considered late and how much will you be charged?
  5. Length of the lease: the lease should state the length of the tenancy and whether your lease is week-to-week, month-to-month or longer.
  6. Subletting: the lease should let you know what the landlord's policy is on subletting: wheter it is not permitted at all, if written consent is required beforehand, or if no consent from the landlord is needed. 
  7. Pets: what is the landlord's policy regarding pets. If allowed, are there any limitations and what additional fees are involved. 
  8. Other rules: the lease may also include additional rules covering things like use of common spaces, placement of indoor furniture outisde, whether smoking is allowed in the premises, etc.

WHAT ELSE TO EXPECT:

  • Application fee: Most property management companies charge a non-refundable application fee. Submitting an application for a particular property does not guarantee that you will have the opportunity to rent it. 
  • Co-signers: Property management companies often require each tenant that does not meet certain credit requirements to have a co-signer. This person is responsible for rent payments should any of the tenants neglect to pay.