Apartment rentals come with a lease agreement you must sign before you can move in. When the property owner puts that lease in front of you, it's important you read and understand it. You may think if you've seen one lease, you've seen them all. That's far from the truth. Here's what you should know about an apartment lease.
The Lease May Have Omissions or Language that Requires Clarification
What the lease doesn't say can sometimes hurt you. A lease is a legal contract. Once you sign it, everything on it becomes binding for both you and the property owner. Some leases use simple language and point out the terms in great detail. Some other leases may contain thick legalese you may not fully understand.
Take time to go over each point of the lease with the property owner before signing. Don't fear asking questions or requesting clarification on anything you don't understand. You may want to take notes as well. You should also ask about anything the lease doesn't have a direct clause for.
For example, if the lease doesn't mention pets at all, you should ask about the pet policy. If the lease doesn't spell out who has the responsibility for certain repairs, then ask.
All of this can help curtail the possibility of conflicts arising later. If the property owner says one thing, but it's not in the lease, then have him or her draft a new lease or otherwise add the extra clauses.
Missing clauses can work for or against you. A missing clause about pets means the property owner will have no grounds to say anything if you do have one. However, missing information about repairs can mean the property owner expects you to foot the bill for things you aren't aware of.
The Lease Must Adhere to Your State's Landlord-Tenant Laws
Familiarize yourself with some of your local tenant-landlord laws. If something is on the lease that violates the law, then it's not legally binding. In all cases, the law trumps the lease provisions no matter what.
You don't need a law degree. Just find your state's resources concerning landlord-tenant disputes and questions. You can usually find applicable laws just by searching "landlord-tenant laws" with your state's abbreviation.
The Lease Isn't Set In Stone or Completely Unchangeable
A property owner may tell you they cannot change the lease provisions for you. It's understandable if the lease contains reasonable language and provisions. If the lease contains things that make you uncomfortable, or things that don't make sense, then ask for changes.
Property owners absolutely can make changes before you sign the lease. It doesn't matter if it's a long-term or short term apartment rental. Remind them the changes you're requesting will only help to maintain a good tenant and landlord relationship.
Keep in mind most property owners and apartment rental companies like Miami Apartment Rentals aren't out to get you. They want to have a good, mutually beneficial relationship with their tenants. Read the lease and ask questions. A professional property owner will have no problem helping you figure out exactly what the lease details mean for you.
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