Apartments for Cheap

Questions and Answers

Your Questions About Apartment Rental Agreement Form

July 29, 2013

Susan asks…

How can I tell if my apartment is on the up and up? And is this an okay neighborhood?

I’m about to send in an application for an apartment on my and my roommates behalf. The roommate is out of town and hasn’t seen the place, so I feel very responsible for anything that goes wrong.
The application asks for typical info, but it also asks for my bank account numbers- this seems off to me (I’ve read that some places like to wire your deposit back to you, but it still seems weird). It also asks for a deposit and first month’s rent in the form of a cashier’s check, money order or certified check, which will make the agreement binding pending approval. Is this safe? Those are basically cash-in-hand forms, so it makes me nervous having no recourse.
Lastly, for any DC natives, the place is betwee 14th and 15th NW just north of W ST NW, right by Meridian Hill Park. Any big caveats to the neighborhood? I know its “transitional” but its transitioning in the right direction as far as I can tell.
Nevermind- I walked by the apartment this morning and asked some of the neighbors about the building. Apparently its the bad apple of the block (drug deals and a brothel on the first floor, supposedly). The rest of the neighborhood is great though, so I’m going to keep looking- thanks for the advice (and I will be asking for tenant references from now on).

Administrator answers:

I would NEVER put my bank details on a rental application form. They have absolutely NO need for that information, either now or if you sign a lease. This alone would give me serious reason to question ever renting from this landlord.

As to the requested advance deposit with the application, that is WAY excessive. An advance payment of $25 – $50 would be acceptable to cover the cost of the credit check and background check. (And in many jurisdictions, anything more than that is illegal, though I can’t speak for DC.)

Neither of these issues endears me to that landlord. I’d personally look elsewhere.

Sorry, can’t speak to the neighborhood.

Donna asks…

How long in advance do I have to tell (by law) the landowner before I can move from the house ?

I found a nice apartment and want to move, but I told the landowner my desicion to leave just a week before the end of the month and she told me that if I leave I would lose the deposit I had given her when I first moved because I’m telling her to late, and she doesn’t have time to find somebody else to occupy the house within a week, Will I really lose the money? I live in New Jersey.

Administrator answers:

Pretty common across the board is a Thirty day WRITTEN Notice. A verbal notice will not suffice if she challenges you for back rent later on down the road. Yes you will lose the deposit if she presses the issue. It is in your rental agreement.

Best way to do it for your records and this will let your landlord know that you won’t take any BS during the process is to:
1. Write a letter stating your intentions

2. Indicate in the letter that you expect an ITEMIZED list of any charges incurred that you are responsible for

3. Note the date you expect your deposit back by (typically 30 days from you move out).

4. Yes it costs $5.00 or so but get a certified delivery form from the post office requesting signature upon delivery – this guarantees to YOU that it landed in your land lord’s hands

I have been sued twice by landlords – but I always had my documentation in hand when i filed my court answer and I won both times…I even got to live in a house for free for 4 months because I discovered and the judge agreed, that my landlord violated the contract – not me, so they couldn’t technically kick me out because even though I quit paying he breached the contract.

Richard asks…

If I complete a rental application and get approved, does that mean I am now bound the apartment?

I am now waiting on more paperwork to fill out but I would like to know if this application means I’ve signed my life to this apartment and there’s no turning back. Currently, I am waiting on more forms to fill but what if I change my mind.

Administrator answers:

Approval of your application means that your rental deposit will be forfeited to the property management company if you do not accept the apartment. Management has set aside a specific rental unit for you. Not accepting it is perceiced by them as a lost rental. Since you have not signed a lease agreement your are not bound to renting the apartment.
Leasing agent Phoenix,AZ

Jenny asks…

How does an “Intent to Vacate” letter apply to a 12-month lease?

I need to move out of my apartment, but only have lived there for 6 months. I have found an Intent to Vacate form on the apartment complex’s website. I wonder if this applies to me. Can you please explain the intent to vacate procedure, on a NOT month-to-month lease. Also what is the general policy regarding these? Are there any extra fees?

Thank you!

Administrator answers:

The intent to vacate can only be given per the notice requirement of your lease – usually 30 or 60 days before the lease ends. It is not valid any time earlier. You are bound by the lease and are obligated ti fulfill your lease terms.

You are wanting to break your lease.

The landlord does not have to let you out of the lease without it costing you $$$.

You have three choices in this situation:

1. Offer to pay to advertise the rental. Offer to have the rental in show worthy condition and allow showings as often as needed in order to get a replacement tenant. Offer to stay until the replacement tenant can move in. This way, the landlord suffers no loss of rent, you are not paying for a place in which you do not live and all you are out is the advertising costs. Your credit and rental histories will not be affected.

2. Negotiate a lease buyout with the landlord. Start by offering the amount equal to 2 months rent. The landlord may require another month. If you come to an agreement, get it in writing. This way your liabilities end with the lump sum payment. Your rental and credit histories will not be affected.

3. Move out without any agreement. The landlord can hold you liable for the rent until either the lease expires or a replacement tenant is found. The landlord can hold you liable for any costs he incurs due to your breach, such as advertising costs, agent fees, etc.

If you do not pay the amounts above, the landlord can sue you. The judgment will include not only the costs mentioned, but court costs and accrued interest until the judgment is paid.

Your rental and credit histories will be ruined. The judgment can be renewed for up to 20 years and the landlord can garnish wages or bank accounts, place liens on (future) personal property, etc.

Future landlords will deny renting to you due to the unpaid judgment. Many employers check credit, so you can be scrutinized for having the open judgment against you. Insurance companies and other creditors pull credit and adjust your rates dependant on your credit, so you will be paying higher rates for many years.

You cannot sublet unless the landlord gives you permission to do so.

Subletting can be a bad idea, because you are essentially the subtenants landlord and remain liable to your landlord for the entire lease term. If your subtenant fails to pay rent, damage the place or default in some other way, you are responsible to evict them. You are still responsible to pay your landlord any rent or damages owed. You then have to sue your subtenant to collect from them.

Daniel asks…

Getting deployed for Basic training does my deployment papers break my lease?

I just received my deployment papers from the Army saying next month 23 April 2011. I will be in basic for 9 weeks and MOS training for 12 weeks. While at basic I will receive where I will be deployed to. My lease at my apartment ends in September of 2011. I will be in the infantry and I will probably deployed to Afghanistan ( says my recruiter ). Does my deployment papers break my lease to my apartment?

Administrator answers:

You need to get that 30 day notice to your landlord stat!!!!

I. Landlord–Tenant

A. Generally. As a member of the military, there are special laws that can have a substantial influence on your rights in property rental and ownership. Perhaps one of the most important areas affected by these laws is that of landlord-tenant law. A landlord-tenant relationship is contractual in nature, and exists where a person agrees that a residential or commercial dwelling will be used by another person for a certain amount of money and period of time. Such legal relationships are normally covered by formal (usually written) agreements called leases and are strictly controlled by the terms of the lease, as well as various state and Federal laws that apply. As each state has different laws that effect a military member’s rights in the landlord-tenant relationship, each case is unique, and requires individual attention from a qualified member of the legal assistance team. (For example, the Commonwealth of Virginia has passed a law that in many cases provides greater protections than those extended by Federal law. See generally §55-248 of the Code of Virginia.) However, general information regarding individual rights in such cases is provided below, and should be considered in any military landlord-tenant matter.

B. Right to terminate leases early. Under section 535 of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (50 USC App. §§ 501-596, “SCRA”), a military member has the right to terminate a lease, if after signing the lease: the tenant enters military service (which includes a reservist being called to active duty); or the tenant signs the lease while in military service, and then receives military orders for a PCS move, or to deploy, or as an individual in support of a military operation, with a military unit for a period of not less than 90 days.
1. How to terminate leases under the SCRA. The military tenant who terminates a lease under the SCRA must do so by giving the landlord written notice of the terminate the lease, accompanied by a copy of the military tenant’s orders. The notice must be “delivered” to the landlord by hand, private business carrier, or by U.S. Mail, return receipt requested. A form developed by the Marine Corps can be used to give notice of termination under the SCRA. The military tenant can use this form (or any other form designed for such use), or provide notice by letter.

2. Effective date of lease termination. The SCRA says that the lease terminates “30 days after the first date on which the next rental payment is due and payable after the date on which the notice…is delivered.” For example, if a tenant delivers notice to the landlord on the 20th of the January, and normally pays rent on the 1st of each month, the lease ends on 1 March, (the tenant must pay for February’s rent).

Michael asks…

How should I go about renting my first apartment and how much should I save?

I want to be moved out by the end of summer…….
If I started with my paycheck next week, do you know how much of that I should save (by the way, I make close to a 1,000 every paycheck……..but it’s every 2 weeks I get paid which sucks.

Administrator answers:

As a starting point you should start saving one third before taxes which should cover rent, insurance and utilities. Also take into consideration how you are going to get to an from work and are you allowed to bring your lunch to work or do you have to spend extra?

The other thing to do is investigate how much an apartment might cost. You could contact a rental agency without forming any formal agreement and find out what an actual cost might be in your area. Be sure to include up front money Deposit and First&Last. Start saving that money out of your pay to see if you can really do it, if not adjust to a range where you could still eat at McD’s and go to a movie once in a while.

Sharon asks…

How 2 evict a roommate of (3) years?

We got sexually involved, with no attachments. Now I have a steady girlfriend. How Can I evict her from my house. There is no written rental agreement. And there is no legal forms for evicting a roommate.

Administrator answers:

If it’s your place, tell her she has to leave. If it’s her place or you are both on the lease, then you should leave but make sure she takes over the lease completely if it’s the latter. It’s an apartment, nothing has to be very legal between roommates. She may be bitter, so just cover your butt and be the better man and leave. You could also look for someone to take over your lease so she doesn’t have to go through the trouble. If you find someone and she doesn’t like him/her, then at least you did your part and you can wash your hands of the whole thing. It would obviously save a bunch of trouble to make sure she likes her new roommate…so you could at least offer her that courtesy.

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