If you are renting an apartment, or planning on renting an apartment, your lease agreement is key to understanding your rights. In particular, there are a few specific terms you should pay close attention to if you want to protect yourself from potential abuse. Here are seven important things you should know in your lease agreement:
1) Rental terms
○ Among the most important items in any lease agreement are the terms of rent. This not only lays out how much is owed, but when rent is due and what happens if it is not paid in a timely fashion. For obvious reasons, rent disputes are a common source of landlord-tenant suits, and thus should be given due care.
2) Deposit requirements
○ It is common for a lease agreement to require a security deposit as part of the signing requirements, and the lease should lay out exactly how much that is and what it can be used for. It may also lay out requirements for other deposits, such as pet deposits in apartments that permit pets.
3) Subletting rights
○ Every landlord has different requirements about whether their tenants have the right to sublet. The lease agreement should lay out in clear terms whether subletting is permitted, and what the landlord may require as part of a sublease.
4) Right to access
○ Every tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment, meaning they have an inherent right to be left in peace unless there is good reason to do otherwise. However, landlords may lay out certain terms about when they may access your apartment, such as to conduct inspections or perform maintenance.
5) Lease renewal terms
○ Your lease agreement should also have terms on when and how it can be renewed. For example, some leases are renewed on a monthly basis, while others are renewed annually or bi-annually. Some lease agreements may also have automatic renewal clauses, depending on the exact language.
6) Landlord obligations
○ Your lease should also explain what obligations your landlord has under the agreement. This includes, for example, the requirement to maintain a safe and habitable living space, as well as the requirement to allow you to stay in your apartment so long as your lease is valid. Also note what repairs your landlord is required to perform under the lease and whether items such as air conditioning is provided.
7) Penalties for breaking the lease
○ Finally, your lease agreement should explain what happens if you or your landlord breach any of the terms of the lease agreement. For a tenant, a breach could result in the landlord seeking to evict you in court. A landlord’s breach could result in the landlord forfeiting their right to some or all unpaid rent or future rent, depending on the nature of the violation or breach.
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.