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  • Lease Signing Information

What is a Lease?

  • A lease is a written contract between the owner of the property and the person renting the property.
  • The term of a lease is usually fixed for one year or can be flexible terms in months.  

Contents Of Your Lease

  • Names and addresses of landlords and tenants 
  • Description of rental property
  • Dates of rental and amount of payments
  • Deposits and what they include
  • Renewal and ending of your lease
  • Responsibility for maintenance, repairs and utilities
  • Tenant and landlord responsibilities
  • Charges and Fees for the tenant
  • Liability for injury and theft
  • Policies on subletting and decorating

Before You Sign the Lease Always consider the following

  • Appliances
  • Adequate ventilation, lighting fixtures, electricity, smoke detectors and fire exit routes
  • Plumbing and drainage mechanisms in bathroom and kitchen area
  • If the apartment is furnished, what is the condition of the present furniture?
  • Do windows and doors close and lock properly?
  • What is the certificate of occupancy?
  • Where do you and your roommates park?
  • Where are laundry facilities located?  

Tenant at Will

  • If you do not have a lease then you are a tenant at will. You have a month to month agreement with your landlord
  • You can be asked to leave your apartment with 30 day written notice and leave your apartment with a 30 day notice
  • Although a tenant at will usually does not have as much protection as a tenant with a good lease, you are protected by State Law. A landlord can not raise the rent without giving a 30 day notice in writing.  


  • How much is monthly rent?
  • How many of us may rent and live at this rental address?
  • May I rent from you for a 12 month, 9 month or lesser time period?
  • Where and when must the rent be paid?
  • May each roommate pay his/her portion of the rent with separate checks?
  • If my roommate leaves during the lease, who's responsible for paying the share of rent?  

Renter's Insurance

You will want to weigh the costs and benefits of renter's insurance for your particular situation. Here are some items to keep in mind when looking:

  • What type of coverage?
  • Coverage for damage to personal property from fire, smoke, vandalism, wind, hail, snow and water
  • Coverage of theft of personal property
  • Coverage for personal liability for lawsuits
  • Amount of coverage
  • Living situations
  • Visit for questions

Security Deposit

Any money given the landlord by the tenant to:

  • Protect the landlord against damage to the rental beyond "normal wear and tear"
  • Clean the rental if necessary when the tenancy is terminated
  • Reimburse unpaid rent

Questions to ask

  • How much is the security deposit? When must it be paid? 
  • When is it returned or may it be used as my last month's rent? 
  • Do I receive interest on the deposit?
  • When must will I have my security deposit returned in full?
  • Which bank will hold my security deposit? 


  • The original tenant remains on the original lease and forms a contractual agreement with a sub-tenant.
  • May I sublet or assign my lease?
  • May I find someone who is willing to make a new lease and end my responsibility?
  • Must the landlord approve my sublease?
  • Will you assist me in finding someone to assume a new lease?
  • Are fees charged for these options?

Things to Look for Before You Sign

  • No subletting or assigning of the lease is permitted (or not without written consent).
  • No pets allowed
  • Tenants must provide the landlord with copies of keys.
  • Tenants are required to obtain rental insurance.
  • Illegal Clauses:
    • Your security deposit is non-refundable
    • Tenants may not have cable television installed
    • The landlord is not responsible for repairs and maintenance of the rental.

Be Responsible

  • When signing the rental agreement, be sure you know and understand what you are signing. Always read over the entire lease before signing anything.
  • Be sure that any oral maintenance agreements are put in writing in the lease.
  • If anything is being deleted or added to the existing lease, it should be initialed by both the landlord and the tenant.
  • Always follow oral conversations up in writing.
  • In most situations, with or without a lease, both the tenant and landlord are required to give 30 days notices in writing.
  • Deposits are normally charged (usually one month's rent) and there needs to be a designated time frame that the landlord has to return the deposit to the tenant, or provide evidence as to why all or only a portion of the deposit was not returned.
  • Both landlord and tenant need to do a careful inspection and inventory of the property upon move in. Any damage or necessary repairs need to be recorded.
  • When having a conflict with your landlord, remember to keep communication lines open and remain tactful.