Along with probate law, our law firm represents landlords and tenants. Many times I will have a landlord or tenant asking to consult on a lease after something bad has happened. Some of these problems can be averted. And they can be addressed even before the lease starts. Are you a tenant and about to sign a long term lease? Then consider these six important things before signing the lease:

1. Read the Lease Agreement. This is straightforward, but most tenants do not read the Lease until it is too late. Read the clauses carefully. What does it prohibit? How much is the deposit? Is part of it non-refundable? Does the landlord require cash or cashier’s checks? Does it require extra-ordinary cleaning services prior to vacating the house? If you find something you do not like, suggest a change. If the landlord refuses to make reasonable changes, it may not be a good fit. I have had one landlord tell me it is against the housing laws to make changes to a lease (this is incorrect).

2. Read the reviews of the landlord. The property management company could either be the greatest landlord you have ever had that fixes everything or your worst nightmare. Become informed of people’s experiences.

3. Document damage of the house prior to moving in. Do not trust the landlord to know what is damaged before you move in. After moving in, you may find yourself trying to explain damage that was already there. If you do not have documentation, you may end up paying for that. You could also go one step further and do a home inspection with a professional. If you are in the Grand Junction area, I recommend Apex Home Inspectors.

4. See if you can talk with the previous tenants. Why did they leave?

5. Do not get stuck in the lease. At the end of lease, if do not want to renew, know the requirements for notice. Does the notice require a month in advance of the expiration? It may require written or in some cases, certified mail of non-renewal. Failure to do it correctly may put on the hook additional monthly payments.

6. Read your rights as a tenant. Some clauses are unenforceable.

Even with these examples, review of the lease may be daunting. If you need assistance on a landlord/tenant issue, please contact the Grand Junction Estate Attorneys, Reams & Reams at 970-242-7847 to set up an appointment.