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Leasing Contracts and You – Information You Need To Know

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When signing your first contract, it’s tempting to skim over the words and assume everything on that sheet of paper is good to go. However, it’s essential to ensure you don’t miss anything that may cause you issues in the future. A leasing contract is legally binding and works to clarify many potential misunderstandings that could occur between a resident and a landlord.

Here are some general recommendations to keep in mind when it’s time for you to sign:

1. Ensure There’s a Tenancy Agreement to Sign

Having a record of the agreement allows for the protection of all parties involved. We highly recommend not getting involved in a rental situation where your future property manager does not provide a contract. A tenancy agreement lays out the obligations and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant, which can help avoid confusion and disputes later on.

2. Read the Entire Contract

If you don’t feel comfortable reading it or don’t have the legal knowledge to understand the contract, don’t sign it immediately. Either look it over with someone you trust or ask for a copy to read over on your own time before signing.

Make note of the following aspects of the contract before signing:

  1. The amount and due date of monthly rent.
  2. The format in which rent is accepted (may not necessarily be on the contract).
  3. Services included (utilities, parking, and other amenities).
  4. Any potential fees the landlord may charge you and reasons for these fees.
  5. Maintenance responsibilities of residents.
  6. Guidelines for subletting, evictions, and conduct.
  7. Agreement of apartment condition.
    1. Contracts will often include an agreement claiming that the apartment is in pristine condition. However, if you know that there are specific damages or maintenance issues, it’s important to note this in the contract to establish that you will not be held responsible for something you didn’t do. 

3. Ensure the Validity of the Agreement

When leasing a property, verifying the tenancy agreement is valid and legally binding is important. A valid agreement is one that has been entered into freely and voluntarily by both the landlord and tenant and that it meets all the legal requirements for a tenancy agreement in your jurisdiction. To guarantee this, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Check the terms of the agreement: Ensure the terms of the agreement are clear, fair and reasonable for both parties. 
  • Assure the agreement is signed by all parties: This includes the landlord and tenant.
  • Check for any illegal terms: Review the agreement for any terms that are illegal or contrary to the law in your jurisdiction. For example, it may be illegal for a landlord to require a tenant to waive their legal rights or to charge an excessive security deposit.
  • Ensure the agreement complies with local laws: This may include laws related to tenant rights, security deposits, and eviction procedures, among others. If you aren’t familiar with the local laws, it’s important to enlist someone who can help you make sense of the contract, especially if some parts of the agreement feel off or suspicious.

4. Review Termination Clauses

It’s important to know what is expected of you if you wish to end your lease agreement early or once it has expired. An early termination fee may be required, or a sublet arrangement may be allowed. It’s also wise to understand the specific situations in which a landlord can evict you (for personal use, renovations or bad faith evictions) and your rights. 

5. Understand the Repercussions of Breaking the Lease

Breaking a lease can have serious consequences, both financially and legally. Before signing the contract, ensure you fully understand the penalties associated with breaking the lease early. These penalties may include paying the remaining rent on the lease term, forfeiting your security deposit, or being held liable for the landlord's expenses in finding a new tenant. Understanding these consequences can help you make an informed decision and avoid surprises down the road.

6. Seek Clarification on Ambiguous Terms

If there are any terms or clauses in the lease agreement that you find unclear, don't hesitate to seek clarification from the landlord or property manager. It's better to address any uncertainties before signing the contract rather than dealing with misunderstandings later. Asking for clarification can help ensure that both parties are on the same page and prevent potential conflicts in the future.

7. Pay Attention to Red Flags

Be wary of contracts without clarity on important terms such as rent increases, maintenance responsibilities, or eviction procedures. Additionally, watch out for hidden fees or charges that the agreement may not clearly disclose. It’s also vital to be cautious of any clauses that seem unfair or overly restrictive, as they could potentially infringe upon your rights as a tenant.

Our team at CLV Group has ample experience executing leasing agreements. If you have any questions, our team will be happy to help you out. For more information, get in touch with us today or browse our current apartment listings.