What to Look for in a Short-Term Lease

No rental is forever but some are shorter than others. If you land an internship or a short-term job, there’s a chance you’ll be looking for an apartment with the possibility that you could only be there for a few months. In these cases, it’s tempting to bite the first low-hanging fruit you find on Craigslist. Knowing that you have a place secured when you arrive removes a huge amount of worry off of your shoulders. But as any experienced renter who has fended off bugs, broken appliances, and unresponsive landlords can attest, haste can come back to bite you. Even if you only expect to be moving for a short period of time, make sure that your lease (or even an informal rental agreement) is clear about these three points.

1. What are the options for early termination and extension?

Short-term moves are often open-ended. If an internship works out, it could turn into a job and permanent relocation. On the other hand, it could turn out to be awful and leave you scurrying back home. Secure a term for your lease and include options for extension or early-withdrawal with a 30-day notice. 

2. Who’s responsible for repairs and what’s the response time?

Make sure that it’s clear that the landlord is responsible for any repairs. The last thing you want to have to do is replace a dishwasher for an apartment you live in for a couple of months.  Equally important, how responsive is your landlord? Stuff breaks. Roaches and rodents make unwelcome appearances. Toilets leak. If you are  in the apartment during your summer internship and your landlord takes his sweet time to fix a broken air conditioner, it can put a damper on your whole experience. Make sure that you put a response time in writing. Within 24 hours of your call is good for non-emergency repairs. (Obviously, an Old Faithful erupting from your toilet requires immediate attention.)

3. How do I get the security deposit back?

Even if you’re only moving in for a few months, a landlord may require a full month’s rent as a security deposit. With a short-term rental, losing this money could be a real bummer. Ensure that the writing in the lease specifies that this money is returned to you, provided the apartment is handed back over in equal or better shape than received. When you arrive to move in — before moving in any of your belongings — take extensive photographs of every room and any existing damage or problem spots that you find in the apartment. This proof will win your case, if the landlord blames your for some old damage and tries to keep your security.

Many landlords will ask you for a reference or two. It’s okay to ask them, as well. If you’re trying to secure the rental long-distance, ask the landlord for a couple of current or former tenants who you can speak with about their experience.

Finding a short-term place to live is just like any other rental.  And that’s the point — don’t graze over the details because it’s just for a few months. By covering all of your bases before signing a lease, you’ll be in a better position to assert yourself if problems arise.

Our today’s guest bloggerKenneth McCall builds creative and innovative tools for customers seeking self storage units. Kenneth is a managing partner at storage.com; which provides self storage in Miami and units in Florida and other Gulf states, as well as around the country. In his spare time he likes to get outside, ideally with a boat and water-skis.

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