When it comes to renting an apartment or home, renters are bound by a number of restrictions that tend to favor the landlord. Think late payment penalties, decor choices, and early-termination fees. However, don't think you can't ask for your own provisions in a lease. While the landlord certainly has the right to say no, if you don't ask, you definitely won't get what you want.
To find out what reasonable requests renters should ask for, I spoke with experts at residential property management companies as well as property lawyers. Here are their five totally reasonable things to ask for in your lease.
1. A change of locks.
"Believe it or not, many property management companies do not change the locks on their apartments between tenants," says Evan Roberts, owner of Dependable Homebuyers in Columbia, Maryland. "They simply collect the keys from the leaving tenants and hand them off to the new ones." Before you sign, see if your landlord can offer any other additional security features such as more exterior lights, security cameras, an alarm system, or even smart technology such as a Ring doorbell.
2. Special exemptions for banned items.
While your building might not want everyone in the building to have a satellite dish on the roof or a grill on the patio, they might let you have one—but only if you ask, says Coty Thurman, property manager and licensed broker for Living Room Rentals in Portland, Oregon.
3. Your preferred paint color.
It's common practice to repaint apartments in between tenants, and that paint usually is a bland white or gray. But you can add some personality to your new digs before you even move in by seeing if you can stipulate your choice of paint color in the lease. "It is relatively inexpensive to swap out the traditional color scheme for splashes of hues that go with your decor," says Janae Poulton, a broker with J. Hester Properties in North Richland Hills, Texas.
4. An early exit if the neighbors are worse than expected.
Anyone who has rented an apartment—or perhaps even a house—has encountered the noisy neighbors: stomping on the floor above you, playing music or watching TV too loudly, or leaving their stuff outside your door instead of theirs. Make it easy to escape this and other aggravating situations by including an early exit clause. "Ask for a provision allowing the tenant to vacate the premises if he or she cannot enjoy it based on any crimes that occur at the premises, loud noises, or harassment from neighbors," says Shaolaine Loving, an attorney with experience in landlord-tenant issues in Las Vegas, Nevada.
5. Special accommodations for your pets.
If your lease already allows pets, don't be afraid to ask for additional accommodations that make life easier for you and your pets (and that make the experience better for your neighbors). "You want your four-legged friend to love your new place as much as you do," Poulton says. She recommends asking for a pet door to be installed prior to move-in, asking for a dog house, or even a fence around the backyard.