The Crucial Points to Understand about Your Rental Lease
Signing a lease without proper understanding it could lead to disagreements with your landlord or even worse, going to court. Taking the time to read your lease, asking clarification questions, so you understand it and following the terms of your lease, will help you have a better rental experience!
What is a Rental Lease?
Most tenants don’t really understand that a lease is actually a legally binding contract between them and the landlord. As with any contract, it cannot be changed without written consent of both parties. Breaking contracts often results in legal and monetary penalties, so be sure you understand these repercussions.
Legal Safeguards in Leases
Most states have some type of Consumer Protection Laws in place regarding residential leases. In Michigan the following apply: (use this for reference https://www.legislature.mi.gov/Publications/tenantlandlord.pdf)
- Security Deposit
- Domestic Violence Clause
- Senior Living release
Standard Terms Covering the Lease Process
Every lease should cover start & end dates, rent amount & due date, late fees and security deposit. There are several other lease terms you should look for and understand, that are a part of the normal lease process.
- Landlord Right of Entry
- Early Termination Options
- MoveOut Process
Often Misunderstood Lease Terms
We seem to run into misunderstandings with tenants about the same lease issues over and over again. Often a tenant wants something their way, when the lease clearly states otherwise. So, make sure you really understand your lease, especially the terms below.
- First & Last Month’s Rent Myth
- Using Security Deposit for Last Month’s Rent
- Responsibility for Damages
- Withholding Rent Over Maintenance Issues
Lease Terms to Protect Your Rights as a Tenant
While it may seem like most lease terms only benefit the landlord, there are several that should be included to protect your rights as a tenant.
- Right to Peaceful Enjoyment
- Catastrophic Damages to Home
Be sure any lease you sign includes these or ask they be included!
So, there you have it – a quick overview of what to look for in a lease to make your rental experience a positive one. One last word of advice, always ask for a copy of the lease a day or two before the lease signing, so you have time to review it. It should only take you 20-30 minutes to do so, to avoid unpleasant surprises later.