What to consider when your lease is up

When you rent a home or apartment, you will inevitably have to make the tough decision about whether or not to move. Most leases are for six months to a year making the decision about where to live a recurring process. While it certainly can be easier to stay put, there are some very legitimate reasons to make a move.

Your landlord changes the rules. Your new lease may not be the same as your old one so make sure that you read the fine print carefully. Watch for rent increases, new fees, and changes to any rules. You should also consider this a time to negotiate any changes you’d like to see made.

It isn’t everything you hoped it would be. Spending money on something you don’t like—no matter how cheap it is—is never a good deal. The same goes for your home. One of the benefits of leasing is that you have the opportunity to make a change if you aren’t satisfied—with no questions asked.

You need more. Over time, your needs will change. Maybe you need more space or more services. Maybe you would like more parking or additional security features. If your existing landlord cannot meet those needs, it may be time to move on.

 Location, location, location. Consider your larger landscape. Is your leased home close to things that are important to you such as your work, your friends, and your family? Is the surrounding neighborhood a good fit for you? If your home isn’t in the right location, it may not be the right home for you.

While there are some valid reasons to make a change, it isn’t smart to move for no good reason. Before you start packing, you should consider the following downsides to moving.

There are some obvious costs. The initial cost of leasing a home or apartment can be steep. You will need to make a deposit and could possibly incur costs associated with moving your services (phone, electrical, gas). Of course, there can also be costs associated with moving your stuff.

There are some not-so-obvious costs. If your existing apartment is in less than satisfactory condition, you will likely have to pay for repairs. Also, keep in mind that you may need or want to purchase furniture and décor items for your new home.

There’s risk involved. You’ve probably heard the old saying “better the devil you know than the devil you don't.” The reality is that your new place might have more problems than your existing one. If you are the kind of person that is afraid of the unknown, you might consider staying put.

Importantly, always keep your lease renewal date in mind and plan accordingly. In some areas, such as those near college campuses, landlords have early renewal deadlines—sometimes several months before the end of the lease. Also, you should research whether or not your lease can automatically renew. Some leases renew automatically if you don’t give them notice by a certain date that you don’t want to renew.

Note: This post was included in the Festival of Frugality #234 hosted by NerdWallet .

Kim McGrigg is the former Manager of Community and Media Relations for MMI.

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