It seems obvious to anyone who has had a fight with their landlord that the first thing you rely on in a landlord/renter disagreement is the lease. But many renters barely glance at their lease before signing it, assuming that everything is legitimate and legal. If you are new to renting, there's a few things you need to know about reading a lease that can save you a lot of trouble down the road.
1. Give the lease a full read- Don't skim, don't forget to look up words and phrases you are unfamiliar with, and take notes on anything that sounds weird or off. Ask your landlord about anything you are uncomfortable with before signing.
2. Double-check numbers- If you have agreed to pay x amount per month, makes sure the lease represents that number correctly. This includes the security deposit, how you will get it back, charges for cleaning, etc.
3. Confirm date- Make sure the lease is up to date, and make sure the move in/out dates are correct. Don't sign an outdated lease!
4. Check for legality- You would be surprised to see how many times landlords use phrases like "lessee agrees to wade any and all tenant rights given by the state." This is not legal, and anything along these lines found in the lease should raise a red flag for you.
5. Repairs- What is the policy on repairs? If the sink breaks, how long will it take the landlord to fix it? Will they charge you? This is very important to know before signing the lease.