Signing A Lease: Ready to rock and roll your way to a new place to live?
Have you found the perfect place? Then you need to sign a lease, and quickly. Because until you have a properly and fully executed rental agreement, you don’t have a locked in place. It’s possible someone else could swoop in and snag your place.
So, what’s involved in signing a lease? Three main things.
The Rental Application
The rental application is the usually the first step toward signing a lease. The rental application is a simple document that provides all of your background and contact information. Its like a first step in the process so we know who you are and how to reach you before you move in to our of our places. Although most places in Bloomington charge an rental application fee, we currently do not. In case you run across this fee, you should know that its a common practice and is used to cover administrative costs and labor to process your application and sometimes to perform background checks.
The Lease or Rental Agreement
The rental agreement itself is the next step toward signing a lease. It sets forth your rights and responsibilities as well as those of the landlord, i.e. us! It includes important things like when you can take possession of the place, who is allowed to live there, who is the primary point of communication for all correspondence (and for the returned deposit money when you move out). The lease is really the basic agreement between you and any of your roommates and us. When it doubt, its the first place to turn when trying to determine who needs to do what.
The next thing to handle when signing a lease is the deposit. The deposit is an amount of money you put down to cover any damages you cause while you live in the unit. If you leave the place without any damage and destruction, you get it all back. If you mark up the walls, damage the carpets, melt the siding or have something else happen, then the cost of repairs is deducted from the deposit before the remainder is returned.
Totally trash the place, you may get zero, and may even get a bill. Like a personal home, you have to keep the place in decent shape, and a deposit protects the landlord when you don’t return the place in good shape.
The deposit is usually equal to one of your installment payments.
First and Last Month Payments.
So, in addition to a signed lease and a deposit, you are also responsible for a first and last installment payment. These do not have to be paid when you sign the lease and pay the deposit but they must be paid before you can move-in!
Now your new place is truly signed, sealed, and, almost delivered!
How does it become delivered? You Move In! And that’s a different subject we can help with!
Something different: Leases, Contracts and Mercury Retrograde. So, if you happen to be into astrology, then some people believe its a bad idea to sign a contract of any kind during something called mercury retrograde. In fact, oddly, but truly, “signing a lease during mercury retrograde” is the most frequently search keyword on Google that starts with ‘signing a lease,’ go figure! Heck, you can even check if mercury is in retrograde!
So you signed a new lease. Terrific!
Now you have installment payments to make. Usually you have to make your first and last installment payments, plus a security deposit, when you sign the lease.
As a courtesy, we generally allow full year lessees that are moving in in the fall to pay the security deposit at signing, the “last” installment (see below!) in May, and the first in August for those moving in for fall.
So, what’s with the “installment” versus “monthly rent payments”?
Your lease is for about 350 days
Here’s how it works: you are actually leasing the apartment for a period of approximately 350 days (that period is fully specified in your lease, look it up!). You agreed to pay a specific amount (again, see your lease) for that entire period of time. Please note that all our rates and offers generally represent a cash discounted price.
12 Equal Monthly Installments, for convenience
The entire amount could be paid before you move in. That would be AWESOME, so feel free to do that if you want. However, we allow you to make 12 equal monthly installments on that full amount. These are not rent payments for the month, instead they are installment payments. If you actually had a lease for the entire year, which is never the case, then the cost, and the related monthly installments, would be higher.
(Really 13 installments)
(Okay, your lease total is divided into 12 installments, but there is also the security deposit, or SecDep, which makes for 13 total installments, 3 due at some time before you move in. The rest due each month of the lease period, except the last one).
Monthly Installments in Action: Complex Istanbul
Let’s look at an example. Let’s say you lease a 1 Bedroom Unit in Apartment Complex Istanbul (which is really nice, by the way, but a bit far from campus).* You agree to lease the apartment for a total of $9600 for the duration of the lease (approximately 50 weeks). A monthly installment on this amount is $800 ($9600/12). You would also, of course, owe a security deposit equal to 1 monthly installment. If the lease had actually been for all 52 weeks, then the total lease amount would be approximately $9984. Again, we do not offer such full year leases.
* Where’s Complex Istanbul? I’d like to see it. Hmmm. Istanbul was Constantinople, which is also mentioned in a song by They Might Be Giants. It’s not really an Elkins Apartments complex. It’s at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. AND, yes, there’s an asterisk here because someone asked… in fact, more than one someone…
Two Common Misconceptions about Monthly Payments
So, to give you a heads up, there are really two primary times when people get confused about this who installment versus monthly rent payment thing.
First, folks like you will want to move in early, will check their lease and they find that their lease period isn’t 365 (or 364 days on a leap year!) days. So, they ask: do I get a prorata refund for the 5-10 day difference? The answer is NO. Why? Because the discount is already factored into the total cost of the full period of the lease. If it were for a full year, it would cost more and, again, we don’t do the full year in order to allow time to fix any issues with your place caused by the previous tenants.
Second, and sort of related to the first one, when you sign a lease, you typically put down a deposit and you have to pay the first and last month’s installments before you can move in. Sometimes people, including our staff, will forget and refer to these as the first and last month’s rent. As should be clear by now, this isn’t technically quite correct. Obviously, what is meant is the first and last installment, but its a lot easier to say ‘month’s rent.’
This can cause confusion especially if someone says something like “you need to pay your July installment” when you are trying to move in in August. Which July? Why July? Well, what they mean is your last installment, which is typically for July of the next year, and which is due, along with the first month installment (typically August), before you move in.
Anyway, a lot more than you probably needed to know, but we do very rarely run into these situations and we thought a little (okay, more than a little) explanation might help in those cases.
When are the Installments Due?
Generally, each installment is due the 15th and must be received in the office by that date.
Installment 1, SecDep, due at lease signing
Installment 2, Last Months rent, due based on your lease, but usually May 15th.
Installment 3, First Months rent installment, due Aug 15 (or move-in)
The above 3 payments must be made in full before anyone can move in.
Installment 2 and 3 are DUE on the dates specified in the lease and are subject to delinquent account fees if not paid in full and on time. These are highlighted on the top right of your lease agreement.
Installment 4, due Sept
Installment 5, due Oct
Installment 6, due Nov
Installment 7 due Dec
Installment 8, due Jan
Installment 9, due Feb
Installment 10, due Mar
Installment 11, due Apr
Installment 12, due May
Installment 13, due June
Note: This means you should generally have already paid the July (“last”) payment for the following year before you moved in, so you would not owe a payment for July of the following year. That’s the last installment that you pay before you move in. If for any reason, we agreed to push your last installment to the actual end of your lease (or some other time in between), in order to help you out, then that installment will be due as agreed to, or in July (or whenever the last month of your lease is…). In the end, 13 installments is the key thing on any annual lease. Charged for less. You have been undercharged. Charged for more? Tell us and we’ll fix it immediately.
And do you live with other people? If so, you are all jointly and severally liable for the entire shared account, which means its like having one big bucket, and that’s something else you should be sure you really understand….
Recap: 12 installments+secdep, not 12 monthly rent payments
So hopefully this clear’s up the confusion. You are not paying rent for each of 12 months you are living in one of our Bloomington rentals. Rather, you are making installment payments, on a monthly basis, on the total amount you agreed to pay for the whole period (again, usually about 350 days) that you, and we, agreed to let you live in our of our great places, and we are so very glad to have you. Your first one, and your last one are always due before moving in. As is the SecDep, which is like a 13th installment.
You will find that this is how practically all leases are handled here in Bloomington. This allows time for you to move out, for us to fix the place up as needed, and to move someone else in. If you need more time, we may be able to accommodate you, but this is subject to availability and a holdover fee.