Whether renting a house or an apartment, you will likely be asked to sign a lease. This document lays out financial and behavioral expectations for both tenants and landlords.
A House or Apartment Lease is a Legally Binding Contract
Pay attention to detail and be prepared to live up to everything agreed upon. Some renters think they can hide certain prohibited activities – smoking or pets, for instance, but even those renting a house with no neighbors nearby can be caught. When your landlord finds you’ve broken the terms of the house lease, he can legally evict you.
All Roommates Share Responsibility for the Rental House or Apartment
Renting an apartment with roommates helps you share costs, but also forces you to share responsibility. Most rental agreements specify the number of occupants, with each non-minor resident signing the document and, therefore, sharing the responsibility of making sure all terms are met. Bringing roommates into a rental apartment without including them on the lease is almost always prohibited.
Your Apartment or House Lease Specifies Financial Obligations
A comprehensive lease should lay out all financial terms as well as penalties for violation. You should be made aware of any required deposit or renter’s insurance before renting a house or apartment, as well as the rent amount, regular due dates, which utility bills you will be paying and your financial responsibility when it comes to repairs or upgrades of the dwelling.
How are Late Payments for a Rental Apartment or House Handled?
The lease should also detail any grace periods for late rent and procedures in the event that you cannot meet your financial obligations, up to and including eviction. Remember, however, that your landlord is also bound by this contract, so a house or apartment lease provides some measure of reassurance, provided you live up to the specified terms.
What if a Landlord Breaks the Lease Agreement Terms?
Suppose you are renting an apartment in which the lease states the landlord will pay utilities, and you come home one day to find the water has been cut off. You do have legal recourse, but it is likely confined to the ability to terminate the lease without penalty. Renter’s rights vary from state to state, so consult an attorney before simply walking out on your financial commitment.
How Long is an Apartment or House Lease Valid?
Six months and one year are common time frames for renting an apartment or house. You may have some luck finding three month or even month-to-month leases, but this is more often allowed with a rental apartment after an initial six month or one year lease term has been completed. If you are specifically interested in a rental house as opposed to an apartment, the lease is likely to have a longer duration.
Can Someone Stop Renting an Apartment or House Without Penalties?
You may need to terminate your lease by no fault of yours or your landlord’s – a new job in another city, for example. When this happens, you generally forfeit any initial deposit you made. Other penalties, including payment of a certain amount of rent or a flat termination fee, may be applied as long as they are detailed in the original agreement, but the cost is usually less than in other cases of lease termination.
What are the Warning Signs of a Bad House or Apartment Lease?
Some landlords attempt to stipulate illegal terms. A landlord cannot prohibit you from obtaining utilities and services, nor hold renters responsible for standard repairs or maintenance, although when the dwelling is a rental house certain yard work may be negotiable. Avoid signing leases with blank lines included, as the landlord could write in clauses after the fact. If anything in the document seems questionable, have it looked over by an attorney before signing.