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More Q&A About Renewing Your Lease in Madison

We’re trying to publish as much information as we can about renewing your lease in Madison. This can lead to some pretty confusing questions, especially for people renting for the first time. Here are some common questions we get:

Q: It’s my apartment. Don’t I have rights to it right up until the day my lease ends?

A: Legally, you don’t. Property owners can rent your apartment to another tenant any time during your lease period, although there may be some state or local ordinances depending on location.Regardless, the smart owner – and the one you really want to rent from – will try and work with you as much as possible and let you know the approximate time line over which your apartment may rent.

Allowing current occupants to hold apartments until the last minute would cause complete chaos throughout the city. Think of the amount of uncertainty that would occur if everyone had to wait until August 15th to find out where they could live! The longer a property owner waits, the more prospective residents they may lose to other, more readily available units.

The current system is in place to let the marketplace more or less dictate when new apartments will be rented. It may make renters decide sooner than they’d like, but it’s preferable to the alternative.

Q: What if I renew my apartment and then want to change roommates or relocate?

A: If you’re in a nice apartment in a desirable location, you’ll likely find someone to take over your lease or a new roommate eager to move in. You may want to check with the owner of your apartment on the likelihood of that happening. There are usually fees required when breaking a lease, but re-renting or subletting is a possibility.

Q: If I don’t renew my apartment by the deadline, can I change my mind and renew later?

A: Sure, any owner would be happy to welcome you back. But keep in mind that you’re always at the mercy of the marketplace. If you’ve been sitting on your renewal paperwork for too long, somebody from the outside market may snatch your place up. Be clear with your landlord and try to have concrete dates in mind. For example, “I don’t know yet, but I’d really appreciate having until ___ date to decide” is always much better than “I don’t know when I’m going to make a decision.”

Q: But then, what are the options if I’m uncertain about my future?

A: Again, keep the lines of communication open with your landlord. Let them know where you’re at, and what your plans are. A good owner should be able to keep you updated on the demands for your apartment, or new openings that might be ideal for you. Additionally, pay attention to whether or not your apartment is being posted for showings! If there is a lot of foot traffic where the landlord is showing prospects your unit, you should probably be more concerned and make decisions. If there haven’t been any showings, you probably have less to worry about. Either way, communicate!

You’re in a situation where neither you nor your landlord is dictating the renewal of a lease. It’s the marketplace. The best thing you can do is to communicate with your landlord and let them know what you want, so when the market moves, you’ll know what your options are.

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