What to watch out for when signing an apartment lease

Dec 13, 2023, 7:00 AM

apartments for rent...

Apartments for rent in Sugar House on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — What do you need to watch out for when signing an apartment lease?

KSL legal analyst Greg Skordas, who has served as a small-claims court judge for about 40 years, joined Dave and Dujanovic to explain the legal fundamentals of apartment leases.


With rents climbing higher, it sometimes makes sense to have a roommate to share the cost.

If you are going to take on roommates to help with rent, make sure you vet them, Skordas advised.

If your roommate suddenly moves out, the landlord doesn’t care, he or she just wants the full rent for the month. In other words, each person is responsible for all and his or her portion of the rent.

Should roommates each sign a legally binding document?

If one of four roommates bails on the rent money, Skordas says the law already protects the others.

“I wouldn’t necessarily sign a commitment between the two or three or four co-tenants, saying, ‘Hey, we’re all in this together,’ although that would be the ideal thing to do. Nobody does that. But the law covers you anyway typically if that happens,” he said.

Take before and after photos

To ensure you get your security deposit back when you move out, Skordas recommends taking before and after photos of the appliances, windows and doors, carpets, light fixtures, etc.

Before you sign an apartment lease, find out who is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

If no pets are allowed in your apartment building and you sneak Fido in and the landlord finds out, you can say goodbye to the security deposit, Skordas said. Work out an arrangement beforehand with the landlord, he advised.

“If you work with your landlord, and the landlord will work with the tenants, these things could work out really well.”

Lastly, he said, know when your rent is due and what the late fee is.

Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.  

Related: For that forever renter, good news on buying a new home

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What to watch out for when signing an apartment lease