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Prior to signing any lease, as a tenant, you should be sure to review the following provisions:
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.
Monthly rental and late fees Pet restrictions Early termination provisions Security deposit provisions Lease term Holdover provisions Default provisions Condition of premises and maintenance issues Utilities Landlord contact information
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Every tenant should look for the provisions in the lease that apply to the abovereferenced topics to be sure that they know and understand their lease terms. Below are some frequently asked questions, based upon these different topics:
What is the monthly rental fee? Is there a late fee if paid after a certain date, and if so, what is that date? Monthly rental amount and due date should be clearly identified in the body of the lease. Any late fees or penalties should also be identified, including the date any late fee is incurred. It should be noted that any late payment might be considered a default under the terms of the lease.
Military when you enter into a lease agreement. In many cases.2. the tenant may be responsible for the rent through the end of the term. and if so what are the restrictions. type or size of pets? If I have pets. If I terminate my lease before the end of the lease period. Often. It may be the only way to limit the amount that will be owed by the tenant for early termination. do I have to notify the landlord and do I have to pay an additional security deposit? If so. a tenant with pets may have to provide an additional security deposit. with language such as: “Upon 30 days prior written notice. and typically if allowed.S. upon tenants’ vacating the premises. Tenant shall be entitled to the return of tenant’s security deposit. is it refundable when I vacate? The lease should specifically indicate if pets are allowed. it will require the tenant to pay an early termination fee. This additional deposit if often applied to pet-related cleaning. it will be subject to the landlord’s written consent and the tenant may still be held responsible for any non-payment of sub-tenant’s rent or other default for the balance of the lease term. as if the lease ended upon the expiration of the lease term. If the tenant does terminate early and there are no provisions for that event. damage or wear. May I have a pet in the unit? Is there any limit upon number. which may not be refundable when the tenant vacates the property. if an early termination provision is included. but it is worth making the request. will there be any penalty charged to me? Do I have to pay until the end of the lease term anyway? May I sublease to someone else for the balance of my lease term? Leases do not typically have an “automatic out” if the tenant wants to terminate prior to the end of the lease term. Whether the tenant can sub-lease the unit will be spelled out in the lease. You may wish to attempt to include an early termination provision. This clause differs from state to state but generally allows you to break your lease under certain conditions because you are in the military. Tenant shall have the right to terminate this lease in the event that Tenant’s employment situation is altered. This would be an element negotiated up front with the landlord. Upon vacating the premises. subject to local and individual state laws and landlord’s ability to re-rent the unit. especially in the event that Tenant is relocated out of the area. . 3.” This is unlikely to be a popular provision to a landlord. or Tenant’s employment is terminated for any reason. be sure your lease has a military clause in it. If you are employed by the U. which is often 2-3 months rent.
cleaning.Typical clauses allow you to terminate your lease without penalty if any of the following occur: • • • • You receive a temporary duty assignment outside of the area for 60 days or more You separate from the military (ETS) If your Military Spouse is killed in action or missing in action If you receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) Some landlords will let you add a clause that allows you to break the lease if you are offered military housing but this is uncommon. maintenance and repairs. Can my security deposit be applied to my last month’s rent? When my lease terminates and I vacate. the landlord will apply a tenant’s security deposit to any unpaid expenses of the tenant. Be sure that the military clause covers everyone who signs the lease. Most military clauses will require you to give a 30 day written notice. this is still required. will I receive the return of my security deposit? How long does it typically take? Do I earn interest upon my security deposit? What fees can be withheld from my security deposit? Most leases will identify whether the security deposit will be applied to the last months’ rent. The landlord may only let the military person out of the lease and not let the spouse out of the lease. It is the responsibility of the tenant to supply the landlord or leasing agent with their forwarding address in order to be mailed their security deposit . Be aware that if your lease requires certain things must be done when you move out (such as having the carpet cleaned). but typically any security deposit will not be returned to the tenant until after the tenant vacates and the physical condition of the unit is confirmed. If you do this. including rent. Again. 4. The military clause does not exempt that requirement. Whether a security deposit earns interest should be outlined in the lease prior to signing. Individual state statutes govern when the refund is due to the tenant. you should be able to break your lease without penalty under the circumstances listed here. Be sure it is explicitly stated that the entire lease is cancelled and not just that the military service person is covered by the clause. governed by individual state statutes.
Do I have to pay my own utilities or are they covered in the lease? The lease should specifically provide what. When does my lease end? When do I have to be out? The lease should specifically identify the last date of your lease term. Utilities are generally defined as water. a tenant is much better served to contact the landlord and negotiate a specific extension and the terms of what will be charged ahead of time. utilities are included in the rent. What happens if I default under the terms of lease? What happens if it is a monetary default and what happens if it is a non-monetary default? A lease should specifically provide if there is any grace period or time to cure any monetary or non-monetary defaults. cable telephone. it should be immediately brought to the landlord’s attention and documented so the tenant is not held responsible later. both before and after the lease term. to cure a monetary default is much shorter than a non-monetary default. including possible per diem charges based upon an amount well in excess of regular monthly rental. gas. if any. will my security deposit be applied? The tenant is responsible for returning the unit in substantially the same condition it was in at the beginning of the lease term. In the event a tenant needs to extend the term of their lease. electric. 7. If there is any specific damage to the unit when the tenant begins the lease term. Can I be held responsible for the condition of the unit when I vacate? If so.5. 8. if any. Telephone and electric are most often a tenant’s charge. A digital camera can be helpful to document the condition of the unit. Often the time. . subject only to normal wear and tear. If I am at the end of my lease term and I stay longer. if possible. etc. 9. is that allowed? What will I be charged? A lease will contain specific provisions in the event the tenant fails to vacate as provided in the lease. A tenant should vacate by the end of the last day of the lease term unless they have been granted a further extension in writing from the landlord. as well as whether there are any options to extend the lease term. 6.
A tenant should always ask the leasing agent to point out where any of these topics are addressed in the lease being presented to the tenant. we’ll be there. . Where do I send my payment? How do I contact my landlord in the case of emergency or in non-emergency situations? The lease should specifically identify where the landlord wants their monthly rental to be sent. In the event that a tenant is unsure of what they are signing or cannot locate specific answers within the lease for their questions. A tenant should always ask for emergency contact information about who to contact and where to contact the landlord and/or management company.10. A tenant should always get any lease modifications or concessions in writing and signed by the landlord and/or the landlord’s leasing agent. the tenant should seriously consider contacting an attorney to review any documentation and concerns. An executed lease is a legally binding document. Wherever you’re heading. with all related rights and obligations.
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