Renting a residential or commercial property certainly has some advantages over ownership, but the path to a successful tenant-landlord relationship is rarely an easy one. There do exist unethical landlords who have no qualms about offering unfavorable lease terms, especially when they know a tenant is desperate for the space.
As a prospective renter, it’s important that you’re aware of your rights and advocate for yourself — or better yet, hire a professional to advocate for you. We asked six members of Forbes Real Estate Council to weigh in on how to spot a problematic lease, and protect yourself before you sign it.
1. Work With A Tenant Representative
Consider working with a tenant representative who has your best interests at heart and has expertise in representing renters. Remember, the people listing the properties were hired by a landlord, not by you, and having a professional represent you is the best way to protect yourself. – Margit Brandt, The Next Step Realty
2. Consult A Real Estate Attorney
When things go well, no one reads a lease. Once an issue arises, we read every word and interpret its intent. Get advice from a real estate attorney or consultant who has experience with the type of real estate you are leasing. A lot can happen throughout the term of the lease and building in the flexibility and terms and understanding all the costs involved is imperative to a successful business. – Jill Szymanski, Bar Louie
3. Research Your Landlord
A renter should always take the time to research whether their landlord is the homeowner managing the property themselves, a professional property management company or a real estate agent. Each state has specific laws about who can manage rental properties on behalf of other owners. – Tanya Delahoz, Dwell Summit
4. Consider At The Requested Deposit Amount
Every area has different rules on how much of a deposit a landlord can take for residential and commercial. The best thing to do is go online and check your city website for rules and regulation on tenancy agreements. If you live in a small town, you might not be able to find this online and you will need to go to your local city hall. – Chris Ryan, BEYOND Properties Group
5. Call Out Any Unfavorable Lease Provisions
It boils down to watching out for unfavorable provisions while reading through the lease. Sometimes those provisions include anti-disparagement clauses that make people pay a fine for something like giving a bad review on Yelp. Renters should always read through contracts they are signing and call out areas that are questionable for clarification. – Nathaniel Kunes, AppFolio Inc.
6. Understand Your Rights As A Renter
Understanding your rights as a renter in any particular market is the first step. In some cities, the law requires a landlord to keep your security deposit separate from what the landlord uses to deposit your rent payment. Be a responsible renter and know your rights as well as the landlord-tenant laws — after all, it’s your money.
– Ways To Protect Yourself From A Bad Lease