Summertime is on of the most popular seasons for moving, so many of you are likely facing lease renewals in the near future! Even if yours isn’t for a few months, read on for some things to consider before signing on for another year. In fact, your landlord will often send you the renewal lease two to three months before the end of your lease and you may have to decide if you want to stay 60 days before the end of your lease.
1. Are there any significant changes to the terms in my lease?
Lease renewals are your landlord’s opportunities to introduce new rules or change specifics in your contractual agreement, so make sure to read the full lease (start to finish!) and note anything that sounds different or unfamiliar. If you are content with the changes, feel free to move on. If not, bring them up with your landlord or leasing office so you can learn the rationale behind the changes. It’s unlikely that their changes will make your place un-livable for you, but make sure to pay close attention before extending your lease.
2. How long is the new lease?
Depending on where you live, leases can span from 6 months to a few years. If you’re secure in where you are, you may want to extend your lease past the traditional 1 year into 2 years. Typically, you end up saving money with a longer lease because a 2-year extension increase is less that having two 1-year increases. Talk this over with your landlord. If they propose a lease longer than what you’re comfortable with (i.e. they recommend a 2-year lease when you’re not sure if you’ll be moving in 1 year), meet with them to decide if you can compromise or not.
3. Can I afford the price increase?
Most apartments require an annual price increase, citing the market or various other reasons. (Unfortunately) this is standard, so don’t be surprised! Generally, the increase is a small percentage of what you pay each month. You should also know that depending on the rent regulations in your market, maximum rent increase may be limited by law. Whatever the increase, do some research to find out if it pushes your rent above the market for similar apartments. If the increase is higher than expected, take it up with your landlord. In some instances, they will be flexible with the increase, since it generally saves them money to keep you in your place versus finding a new tenant. Make sure that you don’t overstep your bounds during the conversation by remaining calm and logical. Be prepared to show any research that supports your point. If they can’t budge and you can’t afford the higher rent, it’s time to look for a new place.
4. Are there any opportunities to upgrade?
Lease renewal time also begs the question of upgrades to your apartment! If the complex is undergoing a renovation, ask your landlord what the price difference would be to move into an upgraded unit. If your place is feeling old and dingy, ask what they can offer to improve (landscaping, one-time cleaning service, upgraded fixtures, etc.). While this may not always pan out, it can’t hurt to ask.
5. How about extra amenities?
Likewise, lease renewal negotiation is perfect time to ask the landlord to throw in extra amenities. If the rental market is soft the landlord does not want to risk an empty apartment, so he might be willing to include in your lease gym, storage locker, garage or other amenity that normally costs extra.
6. Am I happy with the management’s track record?
Think back over your time in your apartment. Has management been responsive to your needs? Available to help? Consistently upholding their responsibilities (i.e. changing air filters, maintaining the grounds)? If you’re happy with their contribution, don’t worry about this one. However, if it’s been a negative experience, it’s not likely to change when you extend your lease. If management has been very bad, this is a good time to look elsewhere.
7. Do I love where I live?
Last but certainly not least, do you love it?! If it’s an easy “yes”, and you are comfortable with your answers to the other questions, stay put. If you don’t love it or are uncomfortable with price increases or management, it may be time to move on. If you decide to leave, read your lease and make sure you notify your landlord on time, in writing.