Know Before You Rent

What Needs to be Done Once the Apartment Lease is Signed?

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Once you’ve signed on the dotted line for the lease to your new rental housing and the keys have been handed over, what’s next on your must-do job list?

Many renters want to start the moving-in process immediately, but before they plug in their lamp, they’ll need to get the electricity turned on. If the apartment or house has been vacant for some time, there’s a good chance the utilities were disconnected to save the landlord money.

Ask your landlord for a listing of all the utility accounts for which you’ll be responsible. Call these companies to make certain they establish the account for your apartment in your name and get the utilities turned on as soon as possible. This also includes any Internet or cable services you might need.

As soon as you have the lights on, do a walk-through of the apartment – if you didn’t do this with the landlord earlier. Make notes and take photos of anything showing damage. Give a copy of this report to the landlord prior to moving in and store your copy in a secure setting.

Also consider purchasing renter’s insurance. It protects you financially if any of your belongings are damaged inside the apartment, whether due to a natural disaster or something like a broken water pipe. Renter’s insurance also will provide you with funds for replacement if thieves steal your personal belongings.

Finally, notify any service vendors you may use – health care, financial institutions and publications to which you subscribe – of your new address. Also fill out a change of address card at the post office, and watch your mail for a couple of weeks for any companies that might need your new address.