Understanding Your Lease
This is it. You found the place you want to live in, with the people you want to live with. Now what?
What is a Lease?
The lease is the agreement between the landlord and the tenant for renting a property. The lease can be oral (spoken) or in writing. If the tenant does not have a written lease, he/she has an oral lease. In either situation, it is a binding legal contract.
Understand Your Lease Before Signing It
Leases may contain many legal terms you may not understand. Fully take your time, ask questions and do not be scared to have a dictionary with you while going through your lease. NEVER SIGN ANY LEASE BEFORE READING IT CAREFULLY. Despite what the lease says, there are basic Tenant's rights and responsibilities.
Here are some important points to consider when signing the lease agreement. Make sure these terms are spelled out in the lease, and if they are not, request to get all terms in writing.
Who is the landlord and who is the tenent? What is the location that is being rented? Is this a yearly lease, or monthly-to-month lease?
What is the rent, and when is it due? What is owed in terms of a security deposit or additional fees? Is a co-signer or guarantor required? What is the landlord's policy for late rent? How will all the money be exchanged?
Individual or Joint lease?
If there is multiple tenets, i.e. if you have a roommate, are you responsible for your roommates portion of the rent if they fail to pay?
What are the rules on subletting?
Who mows the lawn? Who shovels the snow? What happens if something in the home breaks?
What is the pet policy? Is there an extra deposit or fee if you have a pet? Is this extra cost refundable?
Can you paint the walls? Can you hang curtains? If so, must you return the walls to the original color/condition upon move out?
If the reason you renting the property is because there is a gym on site, make sure that use of ammenity is in the lease. After all, what happens if the landlord suddenly decides to remove the gym?
Put all Promises in Writing:
What if you see the property and you love it, but the carpet is dirty? Although the landlord may have stated he will have it replaced before you move in, make sure that it is put in writing. The lease sets forth the obligation which the tenant owes to the landlord and the obligation which the landlord owes to the tenant. If the tenant has a written lease, every agreement between the tenant and the landlord must be put in the lease including any promises by the landlord to make repairs or add or include amenities.
As you may begin to realize, there is a lot of information that should go into lease to protect all parties involved in the transaction.
Signing Your Lease
The tenant must make sure that all blanks are filled in or crossed out of the lease and that all changes are made before signing. If the lease needs to be notarized, have it notarized. The landlord needs to sign the lease as well in order to complete the contract. Ask for and get a copy of the lease after it is signed and keep it for your records.
If you feel you need legal assistance, please contact TURN.
1315 Walnut Street, 3rd floor
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19107