A surprising number of people do not pay much attention to their lease agreement before they sign and commit themselves to what is a binding contract. Because of this, a surprising number of tenants (and even some landlords) will find themselves shocked to discover what their lease actually requires from them. Here are five terms you should be familiar with in your lease agreement, in case you get in a dispute with your landlord:
- The limits on occupancy of the apartment
- This may seem like a relatively small issue, but legally speaking, the only people who are supposed to live in an apartment are the people listed on the lease agreement, as well as their minor children and spouses or romantic partners. This is important for two reasons: first, it designates who can legally stay in the apartment, and second, it notifies the landlord who can be held accountable for unpaid rent or other lease violations. You should also check to make sure if your lease permits subletting, if you intend to sublet to someone else.
- The requirements on payment of rent
- Typically, most lease agreements carry terms describing when rent should be paid, and what forms of payment are considered acceptable. While these should be cut and dry, you should make sure you are aware of what your lease requires to maintain your apartment. You should also check to see if your landlord will penalize you for being late on your rent.
- The terms of any deposits or fees
- Almost every landlord requires their tenants to pay a security deposit to cover potential expenses for repairs and maintenance. Your lease should tell you how much you must pay for your security deposit, as well as how it will be repaid if any remains at the end of the lease. You should also check to see if there are any additional deposits or fees, particularly if you have pets.
- Any requirements about maintenance or alterations
- Often, a lease agreement will have terms that determine a tenant’s responsibilities for maintaining an apartment. This usually includes ensuring it is clean and alerting the landlord once it becomes clear there is something that needs repair. They lease may also have restrictions on what types of alterations a tenant can make to the apartment, such as painting the walls or installing any permanent fixtures.
- Any terms relating to the landlord’s right of entry
- Normally, a landlord is supposed to leave a tenant alone and respect their right to privacy. However, a lease will often state when and upon what conditions a landlord can enter the apartment, such as to perform necessary repairs. Being aware of these terms can help you if a landlord decides to violate your privacy for reasons other than those permitted by your lease agreement.
If you are in a dispute with your landlord and want to know more about protecting yourself, do not wait until it is too late. You should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling landlord-tenant disputes, who can advise you on your rights and help you avoid the risk of eviction. Contact the skilled landlord-tenant attorneys at Hobson-Williams, P.C. Contact us online, toll-free (866) 825-1529 or (718) 210-4744 to discuss your rights and the solutions available to you.