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Rental or lease agreements are a contract between the landlord and tenant that tenant that defines the terms of the relationship. A lease should contain the following terms:
- Rent - How much is the rent paid per month, the date of the month the rent is due and the late penalty if the rent is not paid within a certain number of days of the due date. In a non rent controlled jurisdictions landlords usually have the right to make residential rent increases without limitation.
- Duration - How term or length of time the rental agreement will be in force. While rental agreements are generally month to month. Leases are often for six month to one year or more.
- Occupancy - The rental or lease agreement should identify the maximum allowable number of occupants (renters) permitted in the unit.
- Utilities - The agreement should state explicitly which utilities the tenant must pay for. Many apartment rentals include water and garbage collection, but usually electricity, gas and telephone are the tenant's responsibilities.
- Security Deposit - If a security deposit is required, the lease or rental agreement should specifically state the amount. The agreement should also state how the landlord may use the deposit or if interest is to paid on it. Lastly, the document needs to be clear as to how the security deposit refund will be rendered. Most jurisdictions have laws that restrict landlords from deducting damages that are deemed normal rental unit wear and tear.
- Landlord Entry - The lease or rental agreement should lay out the procedure for the landlord gain entry to the unit. Landlords are usually required to give notice to the tenant before entering the unit. A tenant's right to privacy vary from state to state.
- Move-in Inspection - Both the landlord and tenant should determine the condition of a rental unit at the time the tenants take possession and make note of (or photograph) any pre-existing conditions.
- Move-Out Inspection - A move-out inspection assesses the condition of the rental unit when tenants vacate a property. This information is compared to the move-in information provided and generally is the basis for a security deposit refund or reduction.
- Disabled Tenants - Tenants with disabilities are entitled to reasonable accommodations for their disabilities, however landlords are not required to substantially impair their ability to do business in making those accommodations.
You may also refer to the LegalMatch Law Library article entitled: What Every Tenant Needs To Know for more information on tenant's rights.