Questions You Should Ask Before Signing A Lease

Questions You Should Ask Before Signing a Lease

A For Rent sign outside home

Moving into a new rental property is such an exciting process! Sure, it’s also super time-consuming and can be pretty demanding, but finally settling in can bring so much joy. I recently made the move from my college house into a full-on adult apartment and I was giddy with anticipation! Anything that came my way from the apartment complex was immediately completed and returned, all the T’s crossed and I’s dotted – including the lease. It didn’t dawn on me until after I had sent it back that I probably should have read it more thoroughly. Luckily, my lease outlined understandable guidelines and didn’t have any weird rules or vague statements releasing the complex from responsibility.

Before signing a lease, make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. Your lease is more than just a piece of paper with boring writing on it – it’s a legally binding contract! Most leases are pretty straightforward, but once you sign it, you’re locked in for the near future.

Here are nine important questions to ask your landlord or leasing office before signing the rental agreement.

  1. How long is the lease term?

    Most leases are a year long, but the timeline will occasionally change depending on the best rate or what’s convenient for both you and the property owner. You may also want to consider asking what the penalties are for terminating a lease early. You probably aren’t planning on breaking the agreement, but if you’re offered a job in a different state or extenuating circumstances arise, it’ll be handy information to remember.

  2. Are utilities included?

    Clarify which utilities you are responsible for and which are included in your rental agreement. The utilities included vary greatly depending on the owner and can dramatically alter your monthly rental fee if you’re not prepared. Ask about utilities like water, electric, gas, internet, cable, and trash pickup before signing a lease.

  3. Do you allow pets?

    If you already have a pet or plan to get one soon, this will be an important question to ask. Most rental facilities offer some kind of accommodation for pets but may still require an extra monthly fee to protect against potential damages. Some apartment complexes will also have a specific list of pets that are allowed, detailing what kinds of dogs they do and don’t allow on their premises.

    Service animals, however, are a different story. You may be entitled to special accommodation for your service animal; consult your legal representative to know your rights prior to initiating a discussion with your potential landlord.

  4. Where do I park my car?

    Some facilities offer free parking in a garage or car port and some require a fee to access the parking amenities. Be sure to clarify where you can park your car, if it’s free, and how many cars are allowed per tenant on the property.

  5. When is rent due and how can I pay it?

    Rent is generally due on the first of the month, but you might want to clarify with the property owner to be sure. And is that rent taken in check form? Can you electronically transfer it? Ask before you move in to avoid any confusion or late fees in the future.

  6. Is the security deposit refundable?

    Couple looking at white wall with paint supplies around themThe treatment of security deposits is typically regulated by law, but in general, security deposits are refundable as long as the property is in good condition when you move out. Your landlord may, however, be entitled to withhold part of your deposit for damages that were incurred during your stay or if you break the lease. As long as you keep the rented space in good condition, you should have nothing to worry about!
  7. What kind of maintenance services are available?

    Depending on whether or not you live in an apartment complex, you may have on-site property management that will fix any issues you may have. On-site management quickly swooped in and resolved an issue my sister had with her dryer after she realized that she had never emptied the lint tray. Of course, I would suggest that you regularly empty the tray (since it’s a fire hazard), but property management will be there for those types of mishaps.

    If you’re looking to rent somewhere without on-site management, it may be more difficult to get someone on the premises to fix issues that may arise. In this case, you may consider renting elsewhere. Try not to end up with an overflowing tub at two in the morning and no one to help!

  8. What kinds of amenities are provided? Are these complimentary?

    Amenities like a community center, pool, fitness center, washer and dryer, and storage space can add that extra bit of value to your rental property. Which are the most important to you? Some properties have laundry facilities in each specific apartment, while others can be accessed through the basement of the building. Make sure to clarify if these amenities are included with the rental fee or if there’s an additional charge to access the spaces.

  9. In what ways can I personalize the property?

    If you plan on painting the walls or installing curtain rods or a wall TV mount, you may want to first discuss what kinds of customizations are acceptable and which are not allowed. My experience is that as long as you leave the property in the same condition as when you first entered, you should be good to go.

No matter what your landlord or leasing consultant says, make sure you read the entire lease. Yes, it will be time consuming, and no, it will not be particularly interesting, but it will make you well aware of the expectations the owner has for you as well as the things you can expect from your property owner.

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  • Open Lowry article - Published by: Living Well in Lowry by neighbors, for neighbors (serving Lowry since 2002)
  • This article is a transcription from the Lowry newsletter by

Insurance Town and Country: Denver’s Family Owned Insurance Broker

As a homeowner or business owner, it’s rarely a favorite topic to discuss. It’s hardly ever the first thing you like to spend your money on, and at the same time it’s always a good idea to buy some. We’re talking about insurance.

Joan Burkett, owner of Insurance Town and Country, says, “It’s the thing you hate to buy, but you’ll love the fact that you have it when something happens.”

Residential Umbrella InsuranceInsurance Town and Country is a family-owned insurance business serving us in the town (Denver Metro area) and those in the country, specifically the Castle Rock area, since 1997. They are an independent insurance broker business that can shop more than 25 companies to find the best rate for your personal situation.

Back in 1983, Joan’s husband Norman begged her to get licensed so she could help run his insurance office in Kittredge. She really didn’t want to at first because she didn’t think it was her thing. At the same time, she knew her husband was quite the sales guy and she had a knack for explaining things to people. Maybe Norm was on to something after all?

The following decade or so proved to be trying at times, but kept Joan and her family on their toes as they rode out the ups and downs of various agencies and insurance firms. Joan is a firm believer in God and she believes everything happens for a reason. “While insurance is not my passion, it helps fund my passions. I’m truly blessed with this opportunity to support myself and help my community.”

Joan joined forces with her middle son Jeremy in 1997, and shortly thereafter Norman passed away in 1999. Joan and Jeremy’s partnership became a blessing in disguise for her while they both mourned his loss. Jeremy wasn’t easily convinced to join the insurance business either, but it didn’t take long for them to become the perfect business partners. Jeremy’s dream at the time was a career in the NFL. After two years with the New York Giants, though, he returned home with his Mom to get things started. “it’s easier on his knees, ” jokes Joan.

How is Insurance Town and Country different from other agencies?

Well, someone will always answer the phone! There’s no 800 number here, it’s personal and we care. Nicole, our account manager, is amazing! If I could clone her, I would,” explains Joan.

When you visit Joan and Jeremy for the first time, they’ll give you a broad brush review of your individual situation. “We look to see how we can save you money. We can help you understand your current coverage by explaining what you already have. And, sometimes, we even assure you that you’re best off staying put where you are.”

Now that summer vacation is almost over, some of you will be sending kids off to college and taking an inventory of your current policies.

Here are some things Insurance Town and Country can help you evaluate this fall.

Did you know if your child goes to college more than 100 miles from home and does not take a car, you can save money?

denver insurance choicesHave you considered insuring your child’s big-ticket items that he or she is taking to college?

  • When we went away to school, we may have taken a record player, or a stereo and microwave, but kids today take flat screen TC and laptops.

Do you understand your healthcare plan? 

  • It’s no secret that the current healthcare system is very difficult for the average person to understand. Let Insurance Town and Country help you navigate the paperwork to determine what you’re really covered for.

When was the last time you reviewed your coverage and/or your insurance carrier?

  • Joan and Jeremy encourage you to review your policies every three years (not sooner). It’s always a good idea to see how your life and needs change over time, but don’t change providers too often. The next guy might decide not to cover you at all, or you could lose valuable renewal credits.

Have you recently gotten married?

  • You could save 20% on your insurance by combining your policies under one company.

How can you pay just one deductible the next time it hails?

  • Make sure your home and auto is on one policy so the next time we have a major story, you only make one claim and pay one deductible for the repairs.

Yes, insurance companies can be difficult, but you have to be at a place where you can trust your agent and your insurance company. Insurance is not simple so who you choose for an agent does matter. We are invested in getting you a good deal and we want you to have a good claim experience,” explains Joan.

Insurance Town and Country provides a level of customer service and personal care that the larger companies simply  cannot. While it’s not a buttoned-up office, it’s Colorado-casual by design. They’re approachable and they understand the broad range of their clients, from the young to old.

We’re small enough to know your name, but we’re big enough to meet your needs,” explains Joan.

For more information on Insurance Town and Country, visit, or give them a call at 303–388-7216.

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    The Benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance

    Benefits of Long-Term Care Insurance

    Retirement. A time of relaxation.  A time of having no more cares or concerns. A time when you are supposed to finally be able to rest after working so hard for so many years. But what happens when advanced age has an effect on your plans and costs pop up in your time of relaxation? Is your current Medicare insurance going to help you pay for these unforeseen costs? The answer is mostly likely no. Even with Medicare insurance, there will be healthcare needs that unfortunately will not be met as one might expect transitioning into retirement. According to Genworth’s 2015 “Cost of Care” Survey — the average retiree in Colorado will have anywhere from an additional $17,000-$90,000 annually in retirement-specific costs. These costs include payment for Homemaker Services, Home Health Aide, Adult Day Health Care, Assisted Living, and Nursing Home.

    So how is a person supposed to manage all of these expenses? Insurance Town & Country recommends looking into Long-Term Care Insurance. This type of insurance will help manage the costs of all the services that Medicare will not cover.

    Depending on the coverage of these Long-Term Care Insurance plans, the plans and premium can vary. Knowing which plan is right for you will further help to manage the costs associated with retirement. That starts with knowing your own budget and taking into consideration the affordability of the premiums (which can increase with age). What can you afford on a monthly basis? Do you have substantial assets? How much flexibility do wish to have in your choice of care? All of these questions should be considered when looking into Long-Term Care Insurance. The main goal is to help you remain independent for as long as possible.

    Insurance Town & Country is available to help you make the best decisions regarding your retirement. Our experienced insurance experts will help you consider your options for Long-Term Care Insurance and assist you in selecting the plan that’s right for you. Call us today to schedule your consultation, and let your retirement be relaxing! We have offices in Denver (303–388-7216) and Castle Rock (303–688-1251).

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      Weather Hazards in High Country while having Drive in Snow

      Winter Driving help

      Be prepared for hazards you may not see

      Drive in SnowWhile most of us are enjoying the early onset of spring here in Denver, the weather conditions in the high country can be unpredictable during this time of year. The chance of extreme winds, pelting rain, and blinding snow is constantly knocking at the door most especially while having a drive in snow. Even the most experienced drivers can be tested by Mother Nature’s power during a winter storm.

      In order to protect yourself, your passengers, and all vehicles on the road, we suggest these simple tips when driving in fickle mountainous climates:

      • Keep an Emergency Kit on hand. This should include at least the basics of a blanket, boots, shovel, flashlight, and some nonperishable food items.
      • Don’t slam on the brakes. Use a “toe tapping” approach when you are planning to stop or turn, especially if the roads are wet or icy.
      • Maintain a steady speed. No need to stop suddenly or speed up too quickly.
      • Stay the course if you are skidding. Your “locked” wheels will take the lead; follow this lead. Do not steer away or try to brake.

      Despite your best efforts, an accident may still occur while on a mountain trip. If you find yourself in a crash, keep in mind the following action steps. These will help to keep everyone safe while on a drive in snow and assist in letting Insurance Town and Country work through any necessary claims.

      • Don’t stress. While it may be natural to get worked up, or even start thinking irrationally, it is important to stay calm and maintain composure. Stay at the scene (but out of the way), and be sure to utilize your warning lights or road flares to alert other drivers.
      • Call 911. This is a job for the professionals. Let them do what they do best.
      • Reach out to Insurance Town and Country ASAP. Letting your insurance company know about the accident immediately will help speed up any possible resolutions.
      • Maintain innocence. Keep any ‘blame game’ comments limited to your conversation with the police and your automotive insurance company.
      • Obtain contact information. Be sure to exchange names, phone numbers, and even email addresses with any other drivers or witnesses involved.
      • Take photographs. Pictures are very useful when a claim is being settled.
      • Verify the other driver’s insurance is in effect. You can do this by calling the # on their ID card.

      Call Insurance Town & Country today and speak with one of our insurance professionals. Let us help you navigate the hazardous roads of life and work to keep your insurance costs down. We have offices in Denver (303–388-7216) and Castle Rock (303–688-1251).  Call us today to schedule your consultation!

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        Plan for a Healthy 2016 with Great Health Insurance!

        health insuranceThis year you’re going to do it!  You’ve made your resolutions and you’ve already hit the gym a couple of times, but you’re not in the greatest shape.  You’re in a vulnerable position where you could easily overwork yourself, strain a muscle, or hurt yourself on one of the machines you’re not quite sure how to use.  Not to mention that it’s super cold and icy, what if you slip and fall on the ice or get sick because your immune system is compromised?  How are you going to pay to visit the doctor?  Let us help.

        Insurance Town & Country offers several flexible health insurance policies that fall into various plan categories.  Each type of category has its pros and cons, but we’re sure that there is one that meets your needs and fits in your budget.  The coverage definitions are listed below, read over the short description of each and contact us at either of our locations listed below for a more in-depth assessment of your needs to find the plan that makes sense for you.

        Copay - The copay is the amount of money the insured must pay out of pocket for a particular visit or service.

        Coinsurance – Coinsurance means that the insured pays a certain percentage (usually 20% or 30%) of the total cost of medical care. A coinsurance plan may or may not be combined with a copay provision.

        Deductible – The deductible is the amount that the insured must pay before the plant starts paying. These plans always cover preventative care services even before the deductible has been reached. A wide range of deductibles are available, depending on whether the coverage is for an individual or family.

        Health Savings Account - Health Savings Accounts (HSA) must accompany a high-deductible plan. Participants qualify for a tax deduction on the money they deposit in the account. Preventive care is always included in these plans without having to reach the deductible first.

        Denver Office                                                             Castle Rock Office
        1735 E. 17th Ave. #3                                                    513 Wilcox St. #200
        Denver, CO 80218                                                      Castle Rock, CO 80104
        303–388-7216                                                 Phone: 303–688-1251
        Email:                        Email:


        Merry Christmas from Insurance Town & Country!

        Merry Christmas to all of our friends, family, clients, and strangers!  This December 25th is about much more than exchanging gifts.  It is the day Insurance Town & Country, celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.

        This holiday season we at Insurance Town & Country want to do more than just wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.  We want to thank all of our clients for their business and we want to encourage those of you who are not clients, to give Insurance Town & Country a chance to earn your business.  We wish all of you the best in 2016!

        Warm regards,

        Joan, Jeremy, and the whole Insurance Town & Country Team


        Group Health Insurance: The Perfect Gift for Your Employees

        The holiday season also means that it’s flu season. High stress, cold weather, and family gatherings make a perfect storm of germs attacking the weakened immune systems of your employees. If you’re employees are sick, it’s best that they can afford great care and stay out of the office while they are on the mend. The next month is prime time for employees to start requesting additional hours, working overtime, and coming in when they should probably just stay home so that they can save up for Christmas gifts. While your workers have good intentions when this happens, it will likely lead to less productive employees and consequently worse customer service and a lower bottom line.

        We recommend providing employees with great health insurance options. If your workforce isn’t afraid that getting the necessary medical care and prescriptions will be too expensive, they will be more willing to seek out treatments and preventive care that will keep them healthy, productive, and present at work. Contact us at either of our locations below to discuss your current insurance policies, your company size and the level of care you want to provide. Our Commercial Insurance Specialists will work with you to find a plan that fulfills your needs and fits your budget; after all, an investment in your workforce truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

        Denver Office                                                             Castle Rock Office
        1735 E. 17th Ave. #3                                                    513 Wilcox St. #200
        Denver, CO 80218                                                      Castle Rock, CO 80104
        303–388-7216                                                 Phone: 303–688-1251
        Email:                        Email:


        This Thanksgiving be Thankful for Great Insurance

        As you join your family and friends around the dinner table this Thanksgiving and give thanks for all you have, we want you to feel safe knowing that your belongings and loved ones are protected. The holidays are packed with love and excitement, but they can sometimes lead to a number of insurance claims. Below we have described some of the most common holiday insurance claims and linked to more information about the policies that we provide which protect against those kinds of claims. We hope that you don’t need to make a claim with us this holiday season, but we’re always glad to know that you are protected if you do. Contact us at either of our locations listed below if you have any questions regarding any new or existing policies.

        Auto Insurance Claims: Worsening weather, darker evenings, and holiday stress lead to a lot of automobile collisions. Whether you hit an ice patch in the road or get struck by a drunk driver, a good auto insurance policy can help get you back on the road without taking presents from under the tree.

        Health Insurance & Life Insurance: As we mentioned in Auto Insurance Claims, a lot of people experience holiday stress. This could come from the anxiety of hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for your family, exhaustion from working a seasonal part-time job, or even the depression of not being able to make it home to see your loved ones. In any case, this increased stress can lead to serious medical issues that require hospitalization and in some cases result in death. We offer Health and Life Insurance Policies that can help keep your family protected from possible bankruptcy due to a head-of-household illness or death.

        Homeowner’s Insurance: Big meals and exuberant decorations, both of these are fire risks. Deep fryer fires, Christmas tree fires, or knocking over the Menorah, our traditions can leave our homes in an unfavorable position during the late months of the year. Additionally, strong winds, extreme cold, and other severe weather can do a lot of damage to your house. Finally, if you are travelling for the holidays your house is at risk for burglary and theft, without sufficient Personal Property Insurance you may be left out in the cold if your presents end up under someone else’s tree.


        Denver Office                                                             Castle Rock Office
        1735 E. 17th Ave. #3                                                    513 Wilcox St. #200
        Denver, CO 80218                                                      Castle Rock, CO 80104
        303–388-7216                                                 Phone: 303–688-1251
        Email:                        Email:


        Great Business Insurance for Denver and Castle Rock

        At Insurance Town & Country, we pride ourselves in our customer service.  Our customers are our friends and family, they are our neighbors and the members of our professional groups.  It is our relationship with our customers, our relationship with you that drives us to work harder to make sure that your insurance policies work for your growing business.  Below we have listed several of our popular business insurance policies with a short explanation of their purposes.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the insurance needs of your small or medium business, please contact us at either of our locations listed below.

        • Commercial Property Insurance
          • Protects your Building and Business Personal Property.
        • Commercial General Liability
          • Prevents major financial losses if your business is sued or held legally responsible in the event of bodily injury or property damage.
        • Commercial Auto Insurance
          • Provides a diverse and extensive set of policies to protect the mobile parts of your business, including their cargo.
        • Business Owners Policy (BOP)
          • Combines various coverage options into one convenient package for more benefits than a typical business insurance policy and better savings through competitive pricing.
        • Inland Marine Insurance
          • Protects your mobile equipment and tools while not on your premises from theft and damage, including during transportation or at a different location.
        • Commercial Umbrella Insurance
          • Provides additional coverage for your business for a variety of situations including accidental injuries, libel, slander, or invasion of privacy, company vehicle accidents, and more.
        • Workers Compensation
          • Covers the expenses that originate from an employee being injured on the job, including medical expenses/treatment and the replacement of lost wages from injury time off.
        • Crime Insurance
          • Protects your business against crime and employee dishonesty.

        Denver Office                                                             Castle Rock Office
        1735 E. 17th Ave. #3                                                    513 Wilcox St. #200
        Denver, CO 80218                                                      Castle Rock, CO 80104
        303–388-7216                                                 Phone: 303–688-1251
        Email:                        Email:


        Veteran’s Day: Respecting Our Military Families

        Veteran’s Day can raise several emotions for different people,  pride, patriotism, and honor, are a few that come to mind; but for many families with loved ones deployed overseas, Veteran’s Day is a reminder of the fear and uncertainty of the safety of their sister, father, cousin, son, best friend, or significant other.  In America, we are fortunate to have a diverse population who celebrate this holiday in their own unique way.

        Everyone at Insurance Town and Country wants you to thoughtfully experience Veteran’s Day this year.  Whether you make the time to speak with your loved ones based far away, volunteer or donate to veteran support group, or just spend time appreciating the beautiful parks, towering skyscrapers, and museums filled with art and history that American Veterans have risked their lives to provide unto you, please keep the brave men and women of our military in your thoughts today.

        Thank you to all of the members of our armed forces for your service and valor.  We invite you to stop by either of our locations and tell us about American History… Tell us Your Story.

        Forever in gratitude,

        Joan, Jeremy, and the Insurance Town & Country Team

        Denver Office                                                             Castle Rock Office
        1735 E. 17th Ave. #3                                                    513 Wilcox St. #200
        Denver, CO 80218                                                      Castle Rock, CO 80104
        303–388-7216                                                 Phone: 303–688-1251
        Email:                        Email: