Know the Components of an Apartment Lease Agreement
Reading your apartment lease agreement can feel overwhelming, but it’s important to understand the terms of a lease before you commit. It’s going to define your time in your new apartment, so it’s worth going over to make sure you know everything it says.
Here’s a list of some basic items you’ll find in most apartment lease agreements.
Basic apartment lease information
You have to start with the basics. At the beginning, you’ll find the name of the management company, the names of the renters, the address and number of the unit you’re renting, and contact information for everyone involved. This might seem obvious, but it needs to be there, making it clear who’s liable and bound by the agreement. This could be an issue if, for example, someone comes to live with you later on but their name isn’t on the lease. Your name is, though, so you’ll be liable for what they do.
Apartment lease terms and rent details
How long is the lease for? How much is the rent, and when do you have to pay it? What happens when the lease is up? This will spell out a lot of specifics: are you month-to-month, or leasing for a fixed term, how do you renew or terminate the lease? If it’s well-written, a lot of potential causes of conflict can be avoided. The more things are spelled out in advance, the fewer problems you’ll have caused by uncertainty of how to handle them later.
Deposits and fees
In this section, you’ll find any deposits or fees associated with the rental of this specific apartment. Common deposits include security deposits and pet deposits. Common fees include late payment fees and returned payment fees.
Apartment lease regulations
You can’t do just anything with your apartment once you’re in there. This section is going to tell you what you can do in the apartment in a variety of areas. A few of many possibilities this could cover:
- Guests: Can your friend just come and stay with you for a month?
- Keys: How many copies of the key can you make and give to other people? What happens if you lose a key?
- Pets: Are any pets allowed? Are all pets allowed? Are there restrictions, such as no large dog breeds?
- Painting/decorating: Can you paint the walls if you don’t like the color, or are you not allowed to even nail pictures to the wall?
- Smoking policy: Is it allowed in your apartment, or anywhere else in the building? What are the consequences for smoking?
- Subletting: Can you sublet out your apartment or not?
- Illegal activity: Can you be evicted for illegal activity, such as drug dealing? (The answer is almost always yes.)
Read more: Understand Your Lease Before Signing It
What’s provided in the unit
If there’s more than just an empty apartment, somewhere in the lease will be a list of what’s included: appliances, furniture, etc. Damage to anything provided by the landlord can be taken out of your security deposit, so having them all listed is important.
Other possible sections
There are a few other sections that one might find in an apartment lease agreement.
Repairs: This section will detail who is responsible for repairing specific damage to the apartment unit, and how to inform management when repairs need to be made. .
Utilities: This section spells out which utilities, if any, are included in the price of rent and which utilities the renter is responsible for.
Renter’s insurance: Some apartment community management companies will require their residents to purchase renter’s insurance. If this is a requirement, that detail will be specified in the lease. It’s probably a good idea for you to get it anyway, but this will tell you for sure if it’s a requirement.
Right of entry: There may be instances where the apartment community management staff needs to enter an apartment unit, such as in emergencies or for scheduled maintenance. This section of the apartment lease agreement will detail when management can enter the renter’s apartment and what sort of notice they must give in advance.
Your lease might feel like a large obligation, and it is. It goes both ways: the owner/management is also bound by the lease in what they can and can’t do. The legal power of a lease agreement specifies rights for both parties who have agree to be bound by the lease.
Now that you know the basic parts of an apartment lease agreement, hopefully you’ll feel a little more familiar and comfortable signing it, and free to enjoy your new home.