Understanding Lease Agreements
Once you have decided where you want to live, you may be asked to sign a lease. A lease is a contract between you (the tenant) and a landlord. A lease is a record that you have rented a house or an apartment and offers both you and the landlord legal protections. If your landlord does not require a lease, you should request one.
What’s typically included in your lease:
- Description or address of the premises being leased or rented
- Name and address of landlord
- Name(s) of tenant(s)
- Length of the tenancy/duration of lease
- Penalties for breaking the lease early
- Amount of security deposit and how it may be used and returned
- Rent amount
- Rent due date (including any grace period)
- Late rent fees
- House or apartment rules and acceptable use of the property
7 Leasing Tips to Remember:
1. Read carefully
Read your lease carefully and ask questions before signing.
2. Understand the lease duration.
- Your lease agreement will include a move in date and a move out date. Make sure that these dates are correct.
3. Understand if you can end your lease early.
- Are there penalties?
- Are you responsible for paying the remainder of the lease?
- Can your rent be refunded if you end your lease early?
4. Be cautious of “re-rent” fees.
- A “re-rent” fee is a fee that the landlord charges for finding another person to rent the property if you break the lease early.
5. Be careful about paying for the whole season upfront.
- Be cautious of lease agreements that ask you to pay for the whole season upfront or require payment in installments that are not on a weekly or monthly basis.
6. Understand the terms of security deposits.
- Is the security deposit refundable?
- Are there any mandatory cleaning fees or other fees that will be taken out of the security deposit?
- How and when is the security deposit returned?
If an inspection is required it is within the tenant's rights to request this BEFORE they vacate.
Some lease agreements have a clause that states the security deposit will be withheld if you terminate the lease agreement early.
7. Keep copies of lease documents.
- Get contact information for your landlord - full name, phone number, and email address.
- Get receipts for payment of your security deposit and all rent payments - save these for your records.
- Keep a copy of your lease that is signed by both you and your landlord.
If a lease agreement is not provided by your landlord, you have the right to request one.
Think you’re ready to sign a lease? Take our housing quiz to test your knowledge!
The information provided is intended to convey general information only and not to provide legal advice or opinions.