Since a lease is a contract obligating landlords and tenants for a set period of time, the parties are urged to examine a lease closely before signing it. If there is something you do not agree with you can always attempt to negotiate a change in terms even if the lease is on a pre-printed form. If you are a tenant seeking a landlord concession get it in writing and initialed by the landlord.
A typical residential lease will span one year. However, a month-to-month lease will provide a tenant and landlord more flexibility.
Leases may contain provisions preventing activities and uses of the property. Typical limitations include:
- Limiting the number of people who can live on the premises
- Preventing the unit from being used as a home business
- Prohibiting pets
- Preventing sub-letting or assigning the lease
- Restricting illegal activities
The lease may indicate what type of notice a tenant must give the landlord before moving out. The lease may indicate if proper notice is not given then the lease is automatically renewed. The lease may also indicate what would happen if a tenant does not move out on time.
A lease may contain a clause that requires the tenant to pay a fixed amount of money upon a breach of the lease.
Besides the agreed upon rate, a lease should contain information about when the payment is due, when it is considered late, what happens if it is paid late and what the penalty is.
Other lease provisions you should look for include:
- How and when the security deposit is returned?
- Who is responsible for utilities?
- Who performs maintenance and repairs?
- Is there a lien on personal property for failure to pay rent or cause damage?
You may want a real estate lawyer to review a lease before you sign it. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you understand all the provisions of your lease and make sure there are no unfair or illegal clauses in it.