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
  • Deposits
  • 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.

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