3 things you can ask your landlord to change before you sign a lease

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As with any supply-and-demand scenario, there’s sometimes a bit of confusion about who’s really in charge when it comes to renting an apartment. While the customer may think he or she is always right, a landlord undeniably controls quite a few elements of a rental agreement. At Moveline, we answer a lot of questions from our customers about what they can and can’t ask of a new property manager when they’re deciding whether or not to occupy an apartment, and we’ve got plenty of answers, all of which can either keep you safe, save you money, or save your sanity altogether.

When you’re about to move into a new apartment, it’s important to know what you can (and should) ask your landlord to change before you sign a lease. Choosing whether or not to ask these questions can make or break your quality of life in an apartment before you even spend your first night there.

Negotiating the price of rent

“Never accept a first offer!” we’ve all been told time and time again when it comes to buying a car or negotiating a salary, and with the sticker shock that often goes hand-in-hand with rent, it makes sense to put it in play there, too. The good news is that rent, much like the price of gas, milk, and all the other essentials in life, is a fluid thing. While it may be tough to negotiate a lower rate in a high-demand area, it’s still worth a try.

Particularly if you’re a student, a member of the military or a senior citizen, chances are there’s a discount you can take advantage of, and even if not, the worst thing that can happen is a shrug and an answer like, ‘sorry, but no.’ Also, if you know you need to stay for longer than a year, it’s possible that asking for a longer lease term -- say, 18 months -- could open the door for rate negotiation since you’ll be in the unit for a longer period of time even if you don’t end up renewing. Either way: nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Ensuring your security

It’s pretty much one of the worst nightmare scenarios ever: waking up in the middle of the night to find a stranger letting him/herself into the apartment you just moved into. Whether it’s the drunken ex of the tenant before you or something more nefarious, it’s never okay for anyone to have access to your home without your express consent.

If you feel compelled to have the locks changed before you move in to ensure that no one -- no one -- out there has a key to your place without your permission, by all means, speak up. You’ll likely hear the answer you’re hoping for (in fact, it’s a best practice for property managers to change locks between tenants for obvious reasons), and if not, you can always change the locks yourself and give the landlord a key. Just be sure to check out current tenants’ rights in your state to make sure you’re within the law.

Fixing cosmetic issues

Chances are, you’re going to get charged for anything that’s less than perfect when you eventually move out, so if the carpet’s already showing signs of wear and tear, the screens on the windows (or worse, the ceiling fan) are hanging on by a thread, or the water fixtures are rusty, mildewed or otherwise compromised, ask for it to be updated before you sign your lease. A rule of thumb is to place yourself in your landlord’s shoes and consider everything you’d feel sheepish about asking a tenant to settle for. Now place yourself back in your own shoes and politely but firmly refuse to be the one who settles. Simple as that.

All in all, apartment living can be a blast or a drag, but much of it has to do with how firmly you stand your ground before you move into your unit. Taking steps early on to ensure your comfort, safety and financial soundness will go a long way once you move in all your stuff and begin calling the new place home.


If you’re planning a move, you don’t have to go it alone. Moveline simplifies the inventory process; gets fair, accurate quotes from reputable movers on your behalf; and oversees your move from beginning to end without costing you a dime. Let us make moving easier than you’ve ever imagined, freeing you up to spend your time on other, more important things.