Should I have a lawyer review my apartment lease?
We show you how to review a residential lease agreement.
You could be a seasoned renter, or this could be the first time that you're renting. Irrespective of which you are, reading a rental lease agreement can feel confusing. Usually, they're full of legal jargon which could leave you confused. Around 37% of the population of the United States rents their homes. This means that when it comes to reading confusing rental agreements, you aren't alone. If you want to review your lease agreement, you could find that it gets difficult.
What Is An Apartment Lease?
An apartment lease is a contract that essentially outlines what the terms are between the landlord and their tenant. Once both parties sign the lease agreement, then that agreement is legally binding. The lease agreement could be different depending on where you choose to rent. They could have different clauses, or they could end up looking completely different based on the terms of your lease.
You could be wondering how to review a residential lease agreement. Here are some common terms associated with leases that you should know:
These are the twelve-month leases and are the most common. The lease could also go up to fourteen months or last even longer. In this rental agreement, both the parties agree to comply with the lease rules. This is applicable for the time stated within the lease. You're usually asked to follow the community rules, to pay rent monthly as well as to pay fees for pets, should you have any.
It's also common for the landlord to not change anything that's already in the lease, before it reaches its expiry date. Usually, you're expected to follow through with the terms of the lease, but there are some landlords who could allow you to end your lease early.
Another lease available to you is a month-to-month lease. These are better suited for short-term and medium-term rentals lasting less than a year. It's also possible to change the terms of the lease. Both you and the landlord can do this. However, a proper notice will need to be submitted indicating what the change is. Usually, the proper notice period is around thirty days.
Lease Agreements: What Do They Look Like?
Leases can tend to differ, depending on the landlord or property management business. There could be hard legal terms present in the lease as well. You could hire a lawyer to check your rental agreement. However, the lawyer fee for rental apartment is usually quite high. In this case, you may want to review your lease agreement by yourself. A more affordable option would be to hire our services. We can help you review your lease agreement.
So what should you consider as important when it comes to looking at your lease? If you're wondering how to review a residential lease agreement, these are the things you should be paying attention to:
1. Premises And Parties
A lease needs to start with a section dedicated to premises as well as parties. This is the introductory part of your lease. Here, you'll usually find space where you can write your name. Should you have children or roommates, then you'll need to write their names as well.
Occupants need to be at least 18 years of age to sign the lease. This section also establishes the roles, which means you should read it carefully. Sometimes, this section also comes with your new home address. The landlord's address should also be present.
This section is responsible for stipulating what the lease terms are. It can also include what the cost of your rent is. When you're looking through the terms, pay careful attention. Ensure that the rent amount, fees, and start and end dates on the lease are all correct. Should you find any problems, your landlord will be able to fix it for you.
3. Rental Payments
You'll also find a section dedicated to rental payments. From here, you can understand when and where you're supposed to pay your rent. This is also where your grace period can be found if you have one. The grace period give you, the tenant, a few days past your due date before any late penalties come your way. Usually, rent is due on the first day of each month. It is important to note that the rent for the first month could be an amount that is prorated in situations where your lease begins in the middle of the month.
4. Security Deposit
Most apartments will require you to pay a security deposit before you're able to rent it. You'll need to pay utilities, rent as well as application fees. Sometimes your credit score will be a factor in the amount of security deposit a landlord requires, but most often it is a set amount equal to either one or two months' rent. Before you sign your lease, you should verify what the deposit rent amount will be.
5. Late Charges
In this section, you'll find out what your late charges are in case your rent is paid late. This section could either be separate, or it could come in the payment section itself. Note that not having insufficient funds in your account does can also incur additional fees beyond a late fee.
The way utilities are billed to you could vary wildly across states and cities. This is partially due to environmental constraints. The age of buildings also plays a role. As an example, older buildings in New York City or Boston will have a very different way of billing than a new apartment in, say, Phoenix. There are some times when the utilities could be included in the rent. However, usually you'll be charged separately for at least some utilities.The most common is electricity, since that is usually the easiest to separate for each unit by the landlord.
In case the community you're living in doesn't allow pets, then this needs to be stated in the lease. This section can provide you with additional rules when it comes to your pets. You'll know what the pet rules are, as well as what the violation penalties are. You'll also learn about pet fees as well as if there is a pet deposit.
Should you be joining a community that is pet friendly, then you could also be asked to provide additional information about your pet. The monthly fee for pets should be clearly stated in this section. In many cases, especially with larger apartment complexes in dense cities, a weight limit will be placed on pets.
This is known as the occupancy clause, and is important for you to understand regarding your lease. It can sometimes be difficult to decipher who is allowed on the premises outside the named occupants in the lease. For all issues with your rental agreement, we are here to help.
Your occupancy clause lets you know what the rules are that your guests need to abide by should they want to either stay in your rental property or visit it. Your occupancy clause could indicate how long a guest could stay in your home. This is usually no more than ten to fifteen days. Should anyone want to stay longer then you may need to get permission.
9. Common Sense Clauses
This section is about conduct as well as activities that could be considered criminal. Certain activities, such as drug use, could lead to eviction. This section will state what those rules are.
10. Repair and Maintenance Clause
In this section, you'll be informed of who has to pay for the repairs, if any are needed. If you stay in a community or in a mobile home, then you may not be allowed to get third parties to do repairs. You may need the approval of your landlord for this. You'll also be provided with rules on keeping your apartment clean.
11. Right Of Entry
There are certain conditions where the landlord can enter the property you're in. An example of this is a safety inspection. However, the landlord should give you a notice, which is usually of 24 hours, that they will enter.
12. Moving Out Early
There are also clauses provided regarding early termination. Usually, different landlords have their own rules for their section. You should know what these are, in case you want to suddenly move.
13. Resident Default
Finally, this is one of the most important sections of the lease. This part states that if you don't follow the rules, then you can get evicted. There are several ways you can default, such as by not following the community rules or by not paying rent.
Should You Hire A Lawyer?
Aside from what we have been covering here, every lease is different. Some may contain extremely complex language, the meaning of which you may not be aware of. A part of knowing how to review a residential lease agreement is knowing what terms like 'automatic renewal', 'lessee', 'lessor', 'abatement' and more mean. We can help you with this. All our experts have at least ten years of experience reviewing leases just like yours.
You always have the option to hire a lawyer to look at your apartment lease agreement. If a landlord ever tells you this is not the case, they would be incorrect. While it's true that a lawyer can help you review your lease agreement, they'll also charge you more for their services. It can be difficult to find a competent attorney willing to take on such a small job. It also oftentimes takes days or even weeks sometimes to get a lease reviewed by an attorney.
Level On Demand's lease review is not only more affordable, but give you a full review by a real expert in under a day! Signing a lease agreement should only come after the document has been carefully pored over. And this is where we can help you. We have the knowledge and expertise to understand what your rental agreement states. Our easy to read summary helps you quickly identify any potential issues or missing clauses that could be helpful to you as the tenant. With our help, you'll know the intricate details of your rental agreement. That way, you can go ahead and sign it without worries. Get in touch with us to get your apartment lease reviewed today.