What to Look for in an Apartment Lease Agreement
The apartment lease agreement is one of the most important documents you will sign because it covers all aspect of the tenant-landlord relationship. Experts say it’s vital to thoroughly read the lease and to understand all the terms. Renters should consider a number of issues as they examine an apartment lease agreement.
- The basics. Every apartment lease agreement should cover the basics, such as the monthly rent and the amount of the security deposit, if required and the length of the lease. The lease should spell out when the rent is due and when it is considered late. Consult the lease to determine who should receive the rental payment. In addition, the lease should spell out whether the tenant can sublet to another person and if animals are allowed. Cost, security deposit, date rent is due, how to be paid and to whom, subletting and keeping animals rules, length of lease, number of people living in apartment
- Late payment. The penalty for late payment should also be included in the lease. Some leases spell out more significant penalties for additional late payments.
- Moving out rules. The lease should also include any rules on what the landlord expects when a tenant moves out at the end of a lease. This should include details on the cleaning that is required to get a damage deposit return. Some leases will specify that nails or tacks in the wall be removed, if possible, and that any damages be satisfactorily repaired.
- Breaking the lease. If you want to leave the apartment before the lease is up, there should be a section explaining how to break the lease and the consequences of leaving before the agreed upon lease term. That could include a fee or the forfeiture of a damage deposit, or both. The fee to break the lease could be reduced if significant notice is given to the landlord.
- Landlord’s obligations. The language is sometimes not very precise, requiring that landlords exercise “diligence” in responding to requests for repairs. The lease may spell out whether the tenant is allowed to make repairs and then pay a reduced amount from the next month’s rent.
- Changing lease terms. All tenants have the legal right to change the terms of a lease. Experts say it’s not a good idea to trust a tenant who promises to add certain features but doesn’t put the promise in writing in the lease. Changes are acceptable to the lease as long as both parties initial the change, indicating they are both in agreement.