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Move-In Basics

Read about steps you can take to protect yourself when you move into a new rental. To learn about security deposits and other move-in costs, go here

Make sure that:

  1. The place meets your needs;
  2. You can afford the rent; and
  3. You clearly understand who will pay for utilities or other costs.

  1. Do everything with your landlord in writing, starting with your rental agreement.
  2. Take photos of what your rental home looks like when you move in, and take photos when you move out so you can show how you took care of your place.
  3. Keep photos and copies of everything connected to the rental for at least one year after you move out.

A rental agreement is a written document or spoken agreement that:

  1. Says that you have the right to live in your rental home, and
  2. Lays out what you and your landlord agree to do and not do about the property.

For example, rental agreements usually say:

  • How much rent you pay,
  • Due date for your rent,
  • Where and how to pay your rent, or
  • Other rules about your place.

Yes. Written rental agreements give renters and landlords more protection. They explain what each of you is expected to do. They are also proof of any special arrangements you make with the landlord. A spoken agreement is a legal agreement, but it can be hard to prove that you have a spoken agreement.

Only sign the rental agreement if you agree with all the rules. The landlord will also sign the agreement, and give you a copy. Take a photo of the agreement in case you lose the paper.

It depends on the agreement. Read your agreement to find out. It could be:

  • Month-to month,
  • Week-to-week, or
  • Another period of time, such as a year.

If your agreement is not in writing, then it is month-to-month.

A lease is a written rental agreement for a set period of time and a fixed amount of rent. Landlords cannot raise the rent during the lease period.

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