How do you feel about leases

Girl Ninja and I will be heading to over to our future landlord’s house to sign a leasing agreement today. After looking at about ten different rentals, we finally found a place we love. . It’s a one bedroom, 720 square foot, mother-in-law apartment, attached to a 1.5 million dollar home, about 30min north of downtown Seattle.

The rental is brand new, in fact, it’s so new it’s not even finished yet (we move in on the 15th). While it’s definitely smaller than the 1,000+ square foot two bedroom apartments we’ve been looking at, we just couldn’t pass this place up. Instead of trying to describe it, I’ll just show you the video Girl Ninja took with her iPhone (keep in mind when we filmed this we weren’t planning on showing it to a couple thousand blog readers so the quality isn’t the greatest. Also, if you watch closely you will catch a couple glimpses of me, but fortunately my Ninja-skills kicked in and you never get a good shot of my face).

A few of the details that you may not have noticed in the video: Crushed marble trim/baseboard, custom made concrete counter tops, washer/dryer are in the bathroom behind the door with blue tape, view of Puget Sound and the Olympic mountains from our bedroom, built in surround sound speakers in the living room, and a curved shower curtain bar….I freakin’ love curved shower curtain bars…a lot!!!!

So how much are we paying for this gem? Nine hundred and seventy five bucks per month. That’s a heck of a lot less then the $1,500 we paid for 600 square feet in San Diego. Can I get a booya for some grande savings!?

Okay, so now on to the point of today’s post. The landlord originally wanted a 12 month lease, but after some relatively painless negotiations, Girl Ninja and I were able to secure a nine month lease option (month-to-month thereafter) instead. That way, if we just weren’t happy living there, we could move out before the start of summer 2012 and find a new pad.

We love short leases because they give us the flexibility and freedom to move when and/or where we want. But in this market, a 12 month lease might not be such a bad choice. Rent prices are predicted to rise over the coming years, and with a month to month lease you could literally have your rent jacked up at a moments notice. With the 12 month lease, you lock in that price for a year at a time.

Ultimately, we are confident that we’re pretty fantastic tenants and that the landlord will not raise the rent much (if any) on us at the end of the 9 month lease. If we pay the bills on time and are relatively low key, he will likely keep rent the same to so we don’t move out. He gets to keep great renters and we get to keep rent reasonable.

The Ninja household is allergic to long leases, but we have friends that have signed as long as a three year lease on their rental. Where do you fall in the mix? Would you prefer a month-to-month lease, or a 12 month lease? Are there other pros/cons that I have overlooked?

22 thoughts on “How do you feel about leases”

  1. Considering the cost of housing where you live, I would be renting for a long, long time. Regarding your lease agreement, I think the short term lease is good because life is unpredictable. You might need a 2 or 3 bedroom sooner than you anticipate considering all the social pressure to have children sooner than later 🙂

    As far as rents being jacked up, you should know more about your area than I. In general, looking at the pathetic interest rate my “high-yield” savings account gives me, I do not think the cost of housing or rents will be going up anytime soon.

    • BTW nice find on your rental! Very efficient and affordable! I think you will be able to find a home with the same good luck 🙂

  2. Renting/leasing is not a bad option when you arent paying a ton of money and still able to save for long term goals or the big picture.

    I split a place with 4 buddies after college we each paid 450 for everything. That helped me save down payment money quickly.

    Another place I had was with a former live in girlfriend and I put about 1000-1100 each month for rent and utlities. I thought it was a little on the high end, but was still able to put toward the down payment.

    I know people who pay more rent then they can afford…and they dont even own. Fools.

  3. Love it! Mother in law apts / garage apts are always top on my list when looking for a place.
    I signed a yr lease, which is fine for me. But at the end of the year I only have the option of signing another year, not month to mOnth. I would rather have the latter.

  4. Our last lease was month to month and exactly what we needed at the time since we wanted flexibility and were unsure of our plans. With our new place though I’d sign a two year lease in a heart beat if it gave us a discount. We’re really happy and plan to stay here at least until I finish my MBA.

    PS – make sure your MIL apt is legal where you are. In many areas they aren’t.

  5. Most apartments that I’ve seen charge you (sometimes substantially) more for shorter-term leases. Unless we knew that the extra $ would be worth it, and we had a solid exit strategy we wouldn’t sign less than a 12-month lease. Plus it helps us take our time on any future home-buying decisions… breaking the lease is crazy expensive!

    Nice place… And I kind of wish I would have established more anonymity on my blog than I did. I use my first name and the posts are fed to my Facebook page. Where did I go wrong?!

  6. You make it sound as if you haggled to get the shorter lease just so that you would have a shorter lease – with no clear purpose of NEEDING a shorter lease. If GN is going to be teaching, why would you want to move before the summer? I don’t exactly understand your thought process on that one. Do you feel like you’ve won something by obtaining a shorter lease?

    When I first got divorced, I rented an apartment that required a one year lease. I could afford the payments and it was a nice place with a great location, so I signed the lease. Once that year was up, I was allowed to stay on a month to month basis and was only required to give 30 days notice. I found another place a few months later that was a huge place and lots better deal and signed another year lease.

    • We did win something. A shorter lease which means we can move out sooner if we end up deciding to. Buy a house, move to a larger apt, or move somewhere else for the summer. Shorter leases offer flexibility.

  7. I find it really really weird that you guys didn’t talk to each other for those 2 mins – especially when you were kind of standing near each other lol –

  8. We actually negotiated a longer lease for a lower price. Like NoDebt MBA said we wanted to be stay in one spot for 2 years while my husband got his MBA. We got the rent down $200 by signing a 2 year lease. Oddly enough, we are moving soon and going to have to get out of the last month…23 months is the longest we have lived anywhere since 1997!
    Looking ahead we will look for a year lease and, if anything, try to negotiate a lower price by offering to pay more months up front.
    Nice place, I am uber jealous of the smaller square footage to clean! Sweet!

  9. We signed a three year lease on our house but we specifically asked for that because we knew what time frame we would be looking to buy a house. Our lease will be up right when we are ready to buy.

  10. I’m in between. I wouldn’t sign a three-year year, but I also don’t think I would ever sign a month-to-month unless my circumstances made that necessary. While a month-to-month offers flexibility, it also means the landlord can kick YOU out whenever you want, and I didn’t want that kind of instability. (I’m on a month-to-month now because my initial lease ran out years ago, so I’ve been on a month-to-month ever since.)

    Besides, if you live in a major city with a high vacancy rate, term leases mean nothing. Here in Toronto, there is a really low level of unrented units in the city, so landlords totally don’t care when people move out because there will be someone else. Everyone signs a 12-month lease, but I’ve never heard of anyone wanting to move out earlier and the landlord being anything but fine with it. I know of people who have broken a lease AND not even given 30 days notice, but were accommodating with the landlord trying to find new renters, so it was a non-issue. Most of the time, people will find a new place, and then give notice to the current landlord once the new lease has been signed.

  11. Leases usually protect the tenant against surprises! After all, you can usually break a lease by just giving a 30 day notice. The apartment looks very nice.

  12. Just wondering. With your reluctance to sign a long term lease are you sure you are ready to settle down in a house anytime soon? BIGGEST mistake I ever made was buying a condo in a town I used to live in. Can’t dump it now, would have to pay someone to take it and I owe $104k on it.

  13. I just signed a lease this weekend too!! Its an 8 month lease to match the school year with the option to extend for an extra month but the landlords don’t want me there for the summer. That suits me fine. I was hoping for a flexible lease so that I’d be able to leave at the end of school if I wanted. As teacher’s college is just a year in Ontario and the job market is fairly sparse I’m going to be looking into jobs across the country and having this flexibility is great. My last lease on the other hand was 2 years and I was able to negotiate a lower rent because I was able to ensure the apartment would be occupied longer. At that time in my life I had 2 years of my undergrad left and knew I’d stay in Ottawa for the summers. I have also done 4 month sublets following a trip to Europe.

    Point being the terms of the lease are really dependent on your life situation. For you, it makes sense to stick to a 9 month lease because you may be buying soon. And it would suck to be stuck paying rent and a mortgage. Either way I LOVE LOVE LOVE the kitchen in your new place!!

    • I also forgot to mention that in Ontario we have the Tenant Protection Act which prevents landlords from randomly increasing rent no matter what kind of agreement you have. They can only do one increase/12 months and it’s cap at a certain percentage every year (this year is 0.7%). Additionally, there is a required number of days that must be given prior to eviction (I think its 60) and they cannot kick you out between November and March because the winters are too harsh. Washington state might have some sort of similar protection laws in place that are worth looking into.

  14. I am tempted to say that we are looking elsewhere because we need to find a cheaper place. We want to see if they love us enough to lower the rent for us. I think they will lower it, because we are hassle free renters.

  15. When I moved to Atlanta, I didn’t know what neighborhood I wanted to live in, so I intentionally found a 3-month lease (it was a sublet) so that I could “test drive” a neighborhood before committing to being there for a year. It was an awesome decision on my part. I ended up loving the area and staying there, but I’m happy to have the flexibility.

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