Reviewing the lease is one of the most important part of the rent process. Whether you are getting your first apartment or your 10th, The leasing contract is the piece of paper will dictate your home life for at least the next year.
Leasing contracts are full of riddling and unnecessary big words, meant to confuse buyers. If you have skimmed through your lease in the past and were simply confused, we are here to help you. We are here to point out the important terms to look out for before you sign on the dotted line.
1) The Basics
- The lease term: Make sure you know the exact date when you have to re-up or move.
- Upfront fees: Security deposit, pet fee, rent paid in advance.
- Rent term and due date: How much you owe and when to pay it.
- Late fee: How much you will be charged if you miss your deadline.
- Security deposit return: What you should get back should be clearly spelled out in the lease.
Of course you are an occupant, but in terms of the lease, you’re the lessee. As the lessee, you are the person the landlord can go after if something goes wrong. Typically roommates sign on as co-lessees, meaning they have equal responsibility. However spouse, children and other family members can be listed as co-lessees, meaning they live there but aren’t legally responsible for maintaining the rules of the lease.
3) Condition of Premises
The condition of premises has 2 parts. the first one being, the landlord legally swears the property is being rented in a habitable condition.
If your landlord signs this off and you move into a home where it’s a total dump, you have the legal recourse to terminate your lease.
The second part covers you. by signing you are agreeing to return the property id the same conditions as when you first rented it, minus the wear and tear. If you don’t, the landlord can deduct your security deposit to make the needed repairs or sue you if the repairs exceed what you put down.
4) Pet Clause
The pet clause tells everything you need to know about keeping your pet at home.
- How many pets you can have (if any)
It should also include the pet deposit you paid. If this section is missing or left blank, your landlord could later say he never agreed to your having a pet and terminate your lease early.
The termination explains how the lease will end. But beware, it goes beyond just the end date. Some leases add an automatic renewal clause, which automatically renews the lease unless you inform the landlord in writing that you want to move out in advance. If you aren’t aware and terminate the lease after the notification period, you might be on the hook for an early termination fee.