Questions to Ask Before Signing a Lease

young couple with moving boxes

Before you sign a lease, make sure you and your budget can support all the expenses associated with renting your new place. And remember to carefully review the terms of the lease so you know what you are on the hook for—financially.

Follow these steps to help you get started:

Move-In Costs

Find out the average cost of rent and deposits in the areas you will be looking to move and start saving before the big day. Move-in costs generally include:

  • First month’s rent (sometimes the last month’s too)
  • A security deposit
  • Utility set-up and deposit costs
  • Pet deposit
  • Moving costs (from pizza for helpful friends to a moving truck)


Make sure the rent fits into your current budget. Crunch the numbers carefully to be sure you can comfortably afford to pay the rent, utilities and your other expenses too.
Choose your rental carefully. A spacious house or town home may have higher utilities costs than a cozy apartment or condo. One way to trim expenses is to invite a roommate to live with you. Just make sure it’s allowed in the lease.


Carefully study the ins and outs of a lease before signing. How much will you have to pay if you need to end the lease early? How much notice must you give your landlord before moving, say for a new job? Does the lease allow for roommates? Pets? What are the financial consequences of being late with your rent?


Are utilities such as electric, gas, and water included in the rent? If not, find out the average cost for each utility bill.


A great thing about renting is someone else is responsible for the upkeep of the building and the property. But not all services on your rental unit are free. Will you be charged a monthly fee for lawn mowing, snow clearing, or trash pickup, for instance, or are those expenses factored into the cost of your rent? Be sure to ask your landlord.

Renter’s Insurance

To protect the personal items in your rental unit, including furniture and electronics, from theft, fire, storms, and other damage, purchase a renter’s insurance policy. You may be able to get a basic policy for as little as $12 a month.