The rental agreement between a landlord and a tenant is called a lease. The lease is communicated in writing in a legal document that is prepared by the landlord. The lease is made up of legal stipulations known as terms.

The landlord may choose to include a possession clause in the lease. The tenant receives right of possession of the rental property in exchange for the required deposit and payment of rent. The term “possession” refers to the landlord’s responsibility to deliver the rented property to the tenant on the first day of the lease period.

What Does a Possession Clause Do?

A “failure to deliver possession” clause often stipulates that if the landlord is not able to deliver possession of the premises on the start date of the lease, the tenant does not have to pay until the possession is delivered. This means the tenant can hold off on paying rent until he or she can move in.

This creates a problem for many tenants. They have left their previous residence on the last day of the month and now have nowhere to go and nowhere to store their possessions. They also can’t rent a new place, because they have signed a lease that is still binding. They now have to make their own arrangements and bear the expense themselves.

How Do I Get Around a Possession Clause?

Without a failure to deliver possession clause, the landlord would be responsible for incurring all of the costs related to delay of move-in. The landlord would have to pay for a hotel room or other lodging costs, as well as pay for the costs of storing the tenants possessions until they can be moved into the leased residence.

It is important to read every lease very carefully and ask questions about potential or actual possession clauses. The basic deal between a landlord and a tenant is that a landlord must deliver possession in exchange for the payment once the lease is signed by both parties. Tenants can protect themselves by requesting removal of a failure to deliver possession clause from the signed lease. Both the landlord and the tenant should agree on each and every clause in the lease so that the rental agreement process is smooth and there are no surprises.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

Landlord tenant law may seem straightforward, but there are many details that a lawyer can help you attend to. If you think you may have illegally been denied possession of a rented property, you should talk to a landlord tenant lawyer, present him with a copy of your lease, and get his legal opinion and advice about your best options.