Agreements between you and your potential landlord can take several shapes.
A simple verbal agreement can be used to signify a contract; however,
you are heavily exposed to the integrity and honesty of the landlord.
More commonly, you will sign a written lease that details the obligations
of the landlord and yourself. A lease is a legal document that will stand
up in court; therefore, make sure you know exactly what you are signing.
A typically lease should contain the following:
The names and dated signatures of
all parties involved
The start and end dates of the lease
The amount and timing of rent payments,
including late fees
Both parties duties and obligations
Inserted clause stating broken lease
The amount and conditions surrounding
the return of the security deposit
The tenant's right to sublet (renting
the dwelling to someone else while still under the lease)
The following are illegal elements of
a lease (verify against local statutes for validity):
Letting the landlord hold your personal
property in absent of rent payments.
Obligating you to be at fault
in any dispute arising between yourself and the landlord.
Holding back a security deposit
when there has been no damage done to the premises.
Retaliation by the landlord due
to complaints/lawsuits including: shutting off water, lights, air,
other utilities, or locking you out of the premises.
Things To Consider
Breaking a lease will usually result in extra out of pocket expenses.
If you voluntary break the lease, you may be responsible for the balance
of the lease due or any penalties indicated in the leasing agreement.
Even if you receive a job in another town, you may still be penalized
for lease infringement; however, talk to your landlord and they may dismiss
the remainder of the rental payments if they feel it was done for a valid
reason. Also if you know you are going to have to break the lease, try
subletting to someone who is willing to stay through the terms of
the lease( caution you may be held responsible for the actions of the
Eviction- Eviction is a legal process,
which end result is the landlord forcing the tenant to vacate the premises.
The first step of an eviction is a written 'notice to quit'. Although
not forcing you to move, this notice serves as a warning for eviction
if the situation in question is not corrected (we suggest seeking legal
advise). Next, the landlord can summons you to court, where a judge will
hear the case. In order to be evicted, you must be in violation of the
lease agreement. You cannot be evicted because of your race, religion,
or sexual preference. Importantly, you cannot be legally forced from your
apartment without going through the courts.
Roommates- Beware, some of the bitterest
enemies started out the closest of friends. When deciding to roommate
with another person, keep in mind you may be adversely affected or
legally responsible for their damages or unpaid rent under the leasing
agreement. It is important to ask the landlord about your responsibility
for your roommate's unmet obligations before signing any leasing agreement.