Signing a lease is exciting. It means you’re getting a new home, making changes in your life. As exciting as it can be, however, signing a lease is also a big deal. You are entering into a contract with a landlord or a rental company, and before you make this commitment, there’s a lot to consider. This is not a situation that you should rush into or enter into lightly. Make sure to do your research and understand exactly what you’re signing. That’s where we come in! Here’s a list of some of the many things you should be thinking about before entering into a lease.

The Building

When you’re moving to a new place, you want to make sure to check out the entire building, not just your unit. Sure, everything may look and work great in the apartment you’ll be living in, but remember that you’re paying for the amenities of the building as well. Make sure you’re given a tour of every part of the building and the grounds before you sign your lease so you can ensure that it’s up to your standards. You don’t want any surprises after you sign on the dotted line!

Location

Think long and hard about the location of your new place before you sign a lease. Sure, your rent might be cheaper if you live in the suburbs, but will it offset your expenses for gas for your car? If you have kids, are you in a good school district? Are you near a grocery store, bank, and movie theater? Are there any restaurants nearby? Is the train and/or highway easily accessible? How long will your commute take every day? The location is key when it comes to choosing the right place, so make sure you consider yours carefully.

Value

Once you’ve decided that you like the location of your new place, you’ll also want to make sure you’re getting a good value. Price shopping is always a good idea. Even if you have no intention of living anywhere else, it’s still a good idea to check out a few places nearby to make sure you’re getting a fair deal on your place.

Parking

If you have a car or plan on getting a car at any time in the future, you’ll want to ask about parking options at your building. Find out if there are spaces available and how much they are. Will you be parking in a garage or outside? If you have guests over, is there anywhere for them to park?

Neighbors

There’s nothing worse than moving into a new place you love and realizing that you have terrible neighbors. We’re not talking about neighbors who just aren’t very friendly, we’re talking about neighbors who are loud, up at strange hours, messy, etc. If you can’t sleep at night because your neighbors are up partying until 4 a.m., you probably won’t be very happy. Go introduce yourself to yours before you commit to your place.

Lease Renewal/Subleasing

Signing a lease is great because it’s a short-term commitment. If your situation changes or you just want a change of scenery, you can move after a certain amount of time. After all the work and hassle of moving, however, if you love your place, you’ll probably want to stay. Make sure you have the option of renewing your lease at the end of it, so you don’t have to worry about being kicked out of a place you love. On the other end of the spectrum, if something comes up and you have to get out of your lease early, make sure you understand whether or not subleasing is allowed and if your landlord will try to help you in this situation.

Internet, TV, Electricity, and Utilities

Make sure you understand what you’re responsible for paying for and what you need to set up yourself. Some places come already set up with Wi-Fi and cable, but some places don’t. Find out how your electricity and utility bills work and what you’ll be responsible for paying each month.

Rent Due Date

This one seems pretty obvious, but make sure you understand when your rent is due and what the penalties are if you’re late.

Alterations

Find out whether or not you’re allowed to make any alterations to your place. You’ll want to know whether or not you can paint the walls, decorate, and make any other changes while you’re living there. Don’t assume that just because you’ve signed a lease that the place is yours to change as you please.

Pets

While you may not have a pet when you move in, if you think you may ever consider getting one, you’ll want to find out if this is allowed and if there’s a monthly pet fee.

See, we told you there’s a lot to think about before signing a lease! Most importantly, remember not to rush. This is a big decision in your life and anytime you enter into any type of contract (and we’ll remind you again, that yes, a lease is a contract), you want to make sure you’ve done your due diligence. Once you’ve considered everything above, if you’re still ready to sign on the dotted line, then congratulations to you on your new home!