Once all the frustrating and stressful hours of finding a new home are out of the way, it is finally time to sign the lease. Real estate agents and contract lawyers are extremely familiar with this process, and it is important that you comprehend it yourself.
Take specific steps to ensure the signing process goes ahead without any problems. Make sure you are in possession of all the paperwork needed to complete the rental contract. In addition, ensure you have all documents you must present at the lease signing.
This commonly includes a list of your previous residences and references from both professional and personal associates. You may have to authorize a credit check as well. If you have not paid a deposit, you are likely going to make the deposit during the signing.
Check out the following list to make sure you have everything you need for your lease signing. You can then look forward to moving into your new home once the process has been completed.
Identification and Residency
Depending on your situation, you may be asked to provide several forms of photo ID. When initiating the renting process with an agent, you are typically asked to provide any form of photo identification. Depending on your landlord, you may be required to provide a government issued photo ID, such as a:
- State-issued driver’s license.
- State-issued identification card.
- Valid passport.
However, some landlords will agree to accept other forms of identification, such as a photo ID that was provided to you by your school or place of employment.
The original photo ID you provide to your landlord is then photocopied. The original form of identification is returned to you immediately. If you are a non-citizens of the United States, you must provide your:
- Driver’s license, passport or state ID card.
- Visa or another accepted government-issued document.
Your Social Security Number
Not every landlord runs a property check, but many do. This means your prospective landlord needs your Social Security Number. Some landlords may ask you for your SSN card, whereas others simply ask you for information so they can run a check later.
Make sure you only provide your SSN when you are certain you are going to move into a property. This is because each time a credit check is run, it can have a negative effect on your credit rating.
Proof of Ability to Pay Rent
If you have recently changed jobs or you are due to earn significantly less than you did last year, you are asked to provide your landlord with proof of your expected salary. It may be sufficient to simply show a few recent receipts or pay stubs of deposits into your bank account.
Alternatively, ask your employer to state in a letter what your expected earnings will be. If you are unemployed, this is a little trickier.
You must find an alternative method of proving your employment status and salary that satisfies your landlord’s requirements. If you are self-employed, you will likely need to provide your landlord with your previous tax return or your financial information, such as your bank statements.
Most Recent Tax Returns
Before a landlord signs a rental contract with a new tenant, he or she must ensure the tenant can make the regular rent payments. This means they are commonly asked to demonstrate they are working a job that pays enough for them to afford the rent. To see if you meet the requirement, a landlord may ask applicants to provide copies of their tax returns.
If you plan on paying your rent with savings rather than through your salary, be prepared to show information about your bank account. Your landlord must know you have enough money to cover the rent each month.
It is important to note that there is no reason for the landlord to know your routing number or bank account number. Therefore, print out your bank statements but black out this information.
Your landlord may ask you to provide a timeline of your job history, along with contact information for each of your previous employers. This is so your landlord can determine whether you are a reliable person. Do not provide details of every job you have ever had though. Opt for supplying employers from the last five years or so.
You must provide your new landlord or leasing agent with information about your rental history. This is used to establish whether you are a reliable tenant. Some landlords and leasing agents contact your previous landlords to make sure you:
- Got along with your neighbors.
- Followed the building’s regulations.
- Paid rent on time.
Typically, you must provide addresses and telephone numbers for your landlords from the past five years. It is essential that you are honest when it comes to your rental history. If your landlord runs a credit check, they will be able to see any past due balances or collections regarding a previous rental.
If your rental history is less than perfect, be prepared to explain a past transgression as honestly as possible. If all else fails, you may need to obtain a co-signer to get the apartment.
You are usually asked to give references when attending a lease signing, and some people require both professional and personal references. These can include employers, former landlords and friends.
It is always best to get a reference from a landlord when you leave his or her tenancy and a reference from your employer when you leave a job. References you give at the signing must include the following:
- The person’s name
- Contact details
- Your relationship with your reference, such as ‘coworker’, ‘friend’ or ‘family member’
Do not be tempted to hide anything from your new landlord or agent. If you do, this undermines your relationship and has a negative impact on the rental agreement.
Vehicle Registration and Proof of Insurance
If you are moving to a congested area, it helps to have your own parking spot. If your new home includes access to parking facilities or your own designated space, you must provide your vehicle registration number, license plate number and proof of your auto insurance at the time of the lease signing. This allows the apartment building’s administration to identify your motor vehicle.
If you have not paid a deposit for your new home before you attend the lease signing, be prepared to take a form of payment with you. Landlords usually accept many types of payment, such as credit card, money order, cash and check. The latter is a particularly useful method for paying a deposit at a lease signing.
If you are unsure what type of payment method your new landlord will accept, strive to contact them prior to your leasing appointment. This can help ensure that you are prepared on the day of your appointment and that you have left nothing to chance.