Most landlords require one month's rent plus a security deposit (usually equal to one month's rent) upon signing the lease. Moreover, you will likely need additional cash to cover moving expenses and utilities (power, telephone, etc.). For customers who have no credit or poor credit, utility companies like Seattle Public Utilities and City Light often require a deposit in order to start service. You should plan on having enough cash to cover all of these expenses as well as a reserve amount for unforeseen expenses.
It is essential to have a written rental agreement when moving into a rental unit. It is just as essential to understand the terms and conditions before you sign the agreement. Be wary when the landlord does not offer a written rental agreement. A rental agreement is a legally binding contract that establishes the terms between you and your landlord. Without a written agreement, you are considered a month-to-month tenant by verbal agreement.
This type of agreement is set for a specific period and offers no automatic right to renew at the end. This is something you need to consider carefully if you have no desire or intent to move at the end of the agreement. It only gives the landlord the option to decide. The terms and conditions as well as the rent amount cannot change unless by mutual agreement for the duration of the term.
This type of agreement is just like it states, a month-to-month rental agreement. In Seattle, a landlord has to give one of 18 "just cause" reasons to terminate a month-by-month rental. You can terminate the rental agreement with a minimum of 20 days written notice in advance of the end of the monthly rental period.
For example, if you want to move out by March 1, you would need to provide a written notice to your landlord no later than the February 8. You might appreciate the flexibility of this arrangement but be aware that the terms of your rental agreement, including the amount of rent, can change with proper notice during a month-by-month agreement.
This type of agreement is set for a specific period but automatically reverts to a month-by-month agreement at the end. This is a good option for you if you want some security and flexibility when the initial agreement ends.
Your landlord must provide you with a copy of your rental agreement. You are entitled to one free replacement copy.
Your lease is a legal document outlining your agreement with a landlord. Make sure to read it carefully!
Here are some terms that you will see in a lease agreement: