Signing your first lease is a big deal. While the process can be a bit nervewracking, it’s important to thoroughly look over every aspect of the potential contract to fully understand what you’re committing to. Here are a few major aspects of signing a lease you should be aware of before you break out the paperwork.

Costs Owed at Signing

In most cases, landlords will want a certain amount of money upfront when you sign your lease. This can include first and last months’ rent, as well as a security deposit. This is basically the landlord’s security if you happen to fall behind on your payments. Before signing your name, make sure you and your potential landlord agree on how much you’ll owe at signing.

Who’s Allowed (And Who’s Not)

Some landlords are not pet-friendly. Others, however, may charge you a “pet rent” or additional security deposit in order to have your furry friend stay, too. In addition, you’ll need to be aware of any limitations on how long guests can stay in your space. Some landlords prohibit guests for longer than a certain number of days to avoid having extra tenants living in the unit without signing the lease.

What’s Included?

Another major aspect of going over your lease is figuring out what’s included and what you’ll have to pay for. Some apartment complexes or other landlords will include internet, electric, water, and other bills in the monthly rent price. Others, however, may actually charge you extra for amenities such as trash pick up and outdoor pools – regardless of whether or not you decide to use them.

The Trust Factor

If you’re planning on renting with roommates, listen up! Landlords often prefer that one person on the lease is the “master tenant,” aka the person who is financially responsible for rent being paid on time and damage to the unit. Regardless of who becomes the master tenant, make sure you trust your future roommates. This is important, as they could end up costing you a lot of money if you end up being responsible for their payments or damage.

Breaking The Lease

Life happens, and sometimes leases need to be broken. Before committing to leasing a space, determine whether you’ll be living in the same city for an extended period of time and make sure you go over all the repercussions of breaking the contract. For instance, some landlords may keep your security deposit and charge extra fees if you move out before your lease ends. The easiest way to avoid this messiness is to understand the risks you’ll be taking if you do break the lease.