The lease is a legally contract, which once signed, binds both
parties to the terms of the lease. Before signing a lease, read it
carefully and make sure to understand all terms within the lease. You
may want to have an advisory agent (i.e. parent, lawyer) review the
lease and clarify any ambiguous information within the lease. You may
be able to alter the lease with the permission of the landlord. After
you are certain of the terms of the lease and feel confident in the
contract, then it may be the time to sign. However, do not feel
pressured to sign a lease if you are uncomfortable with the terms of the
Repairs - If nothing is stated, the landlord may
deduct from the security deposit in order to pay for repairs. Check for
a clause dealing with repairs. If one is not stated, discuss who will
be responsible for certain repairs and under what conditions will
repairs be warranted.
Rental Payment - The amount of rent due should be clearly specified. Find out the penalty for late
payments as well.
Length - The dates of the lease period should be
specified. Examine this section closely. Find out about rent increases
during the time of the lease.
Security Deposit - This amount should also be
clearly stated. Discuss with the landlord the conditions for the return
of the deposit. Ask about the time period for its return as well.
Utilities - Check to see what utilities are
included in your rent agreement. If you must pay utilities, ask where
you can find estimates for how much specific utilities will cost for the
Landlord's Access - Some leases may allow the
landlord to enter the premises at any time. Protect your right to
privacy by adding a clause to the lease stipulating the landlord give at
least 24 hours notice to have access to the premises.
Rules of Behavior - Read this section carefully.
If the landlord states that there are no parties in the residence, abide
by that statement. Violating this could lead to eviction. This may
also pertain to pets and quiet hours. Check to see if there are any
additional restrictions that may inhibit your comfort of living.
Addendum - In addition to the standard lease, many landlords will add additional terms to
the lease. These are also legally binding.
Get everything in writing. This will help protect
you from any surprises that may come up. Once again, understand
everything in a lease before signing.