Understanding Your Home Rental Lease

Moving in to a new house can be one of the most exciting times in you and your family’s lives. Whether you’re buying or renting there are many things you need to complete and read. When buying a home there is loads of paperwork during closing, however if you’re renting your home you only need to worry about your lease agreement. Although it doesn’t equate to mounds and mounds of paperwork, navigating through a legally binding contract can oftentimes be confusing. It is important to know what you’ll be signing, which is why we’ve taken a little time to breakdown what a normal rental lease will contain.

Rental Terms and Monthly Rent

The rental terms of your lease should be clearly spelled out in this section, including late charges, monthly rent, and length of the lease. Most of the time a lease is one-year in length or longer, however there are times that you may find a month-to-month (or even week-to-week) lease options. If there have been things that you and your potential landlord have discussed in person, make sure that you remind him or her to include them in the written lease agreement.

Payment Instructions

Included in this section should be wording that clearly identifies when you are to have rent paid. Most of the time this will occur on the 1st of the month or somewhere close, however you want to make sure you aware of not only the rent payment date, but also things like grace period and what this means for your rent payment(s).

Security Deposit

In order to obtain an apartment or rental property of any sort, you are usually required to pay a security deposit. This is used as a security blanket for the landlord in case of missed payment or damages that may be caused through no fault of their own. Don’t be surprised if your landlord is requesting first and last month’s rent as this is typical for renters.

When reading over your lease agreement it is important to ensure that there is a clear definition of why your security deposit could be held, as well as how long a landlord has to return your unused deposit amount.

Lease / Early Termination

A lot of us don’t really pay attention to this area until it’s time to actually end the lease in one way or another. We know that rental agreements are long and a lot to read, but it is in your best interest to pay attention to every area of the agreement including this one, as this is a binding contract. Make sure you are aware of the amount of time you have to give notification to your landlord that you intend to move out or renew your lease. Mistakes in this area can cost you some of your deposit or more if you do not pay particular attention to the specifics. If you plan to stay with the landlord in one capacity or another once your lease ends be sure to get a new lease agreement signed with the specific conditions to the new arrangement.

Maintenance

When renting a house, if you are lucky enough to have that house come furnished with major appliances, then your landlord is generally responsible for all the maintenance on these items that is caused by normal wear-and-tear. Also, if things begin to “fall apart” after you move in by no fault of your own, the landlord would also be responsible for the cost of repairs. Be sure to pay special attention to the section that spells out how maintenance is handled for your new house. It should be clearly stated who is responsible for maintaining and fixing certain items and provide a timeline of when the events should be resolved. Also make sure you are aware of the correct way of reporting maintenance problems in the event of any issues.

Pets

At Buckeye Northwest Realty we love pets! Almost 60% of all Buckeye Northwest Realty properties allow pets in one form or another. You may get the love and companionship of your furry little friend, but nine times out of ten, they will come with an additional fee. The fees can often come in the form of flat, upfront fees or deposits, and monthly ‘pet rent’. This is due to the simple fact that pets have a tendency to cause wear and tear on a home and at the end of the day, when you move out, your landlord is the one who will have to deal with the clean up.

It is very important to make sure you are aware of the pet costs, and the rules associated with the pets. Make sure you are within the limits of the number of pets allowed, types of pets allowed, and also what happens if you violate the terms of your lease agreement in regards to pets

Fees

Most of us are familiar with the typical fees associated with renting a house. They are the things you hear about over and over, security deposit, application fees, monthly rent, pets, and so on. However, these are not the only fees charged by landlords and oftentimes would-be tenants are shocked to find out there may be more to the story. Take careful note to look for such fees as parking fees, utility fees, trash / waste, notice fees, or even third-party billing fees. If any of these are applicable to your forthcoming rental they should be clearly spelled out in the lease agreement.

Subletting / Roommates

Sometimes you need to move out of your rental before your lease is up. If this is the case, there are times that your landlord may allow you to sublet your rental to another individual who would assume responsibility for monthly rent, etc.. However, you want to make sure you have a strong understanding of the ins and outs of this area if this is a scenario you happen to find yourself. Who is responsible for what when it comes to your security deposit. Look for clear and concise explanation on subletting in your rental agreement.

When it comes to roommates, not just a visiting family member or friend, there can sometimes be multiple application fees, rules, or other things that should be clearly spelled out in your rental agreements. If you are planning on having other people being financially responsible for the house you will be renting, be sure you pay special attention to this area of your lease.

Eviction

This area can oftentimes be one of the most important of all. If for whatever reason you fail to pay rent of breach your lease agreement, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an eviction notice. What does this mean? What can you do? How long do you have? Eviction isn’t something that happens overnight. This means your landlord can’t come and just toss your stuff out the same day you are notified of your pending eviction. Now, every state is different and has different laws that govern evictions. There are many steps and each one must be done according to the law. This area of your lease agreement is particularly important, it should answer all your questions on what can happen and what will happen if you breach your lease agreement.

Remember that every state has different laws that must be followed by both tenant and landlord and those rules and laws generally demand that all provisions of your lease agreement be clearly spelled out in that agreement. So take the time to sit and read through your lease agreement thoroughly, and if you need help you can always contact an attorney who can help you each step of the way. We at Buckeye Northwest Realty are here for all of our tenants. If you have any comments of questions about your lease agreement please don’t hesitate to contact us today!

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