Lease clauses are pretty much uniform, and knowing what to expect ahead of time can help you prepare for many scenarios. Every lease agreement contains legal language that won’t come into play, until there’s a law suit. However, there are clauses that will apply as soon you sign the lease, and those are the ones you’ll want to know and understand mainly. Here are 4 lease clauses to consider:
1. Restrictions on Pets
You may not have a pet now, but you might decide that you want one in the future. Lease clauses concerning pets can be very restrictive. Some landlords view pets as a risk, because if not trained properly, they can damage the apartment. It’s important to think ahead as to whether you want to sign a lease agreement that denies your ability to keep pets on the premises. If you do own a pet right now, you should read the clause on pets very carefully to see what is required, especially whether the landlord is demanding a security deposit. What does the lease clause say in regards to returning any pet security deposits? Also, some pet clauses limit the types and the number of pets allowed. Assess your current situation and future plans before signing the lease. It can be hard to get the landlord to change this clause later.
2. Late Fees
An important lease clause to consider pertains to late fees. This might seem like a minor detail at first, as some late fees are only $25, $50 or $75. However, those fees add up and can become due only a short time after the rent due date. It’s important to pay attention to when your rent will be considered late. For example, if your rent is due on the first of the month, will the late fee apply if you pay your rent on the second of the month? Pay close attention to this, because it’s easy to make a mistake in this area and owe additional monies that would be better spent on paying for food and transportation.
If you tend to travel a lot, you might consider subletting your apartment while you’re away. However, if your lease prohibits subleasing, you could get evicted for subletting. Watch for lease clauses that allow or prohibit subletting. If you expect to sublet, negotiate with your landlord before signing the agreement, allowing you to legally do it under the agreement.
Some landlords choose not to wait for a judge to determine damages for tenants breaking the lease. Instead, they state the amount the tenant must pay for breaking the lease early or wrongfully. This is referred to as liquidated damages. The landlord doesn’t have to prove any actual damages if you sign an agreement with this lease clause. Therefore, you should not sign such a lease agreement, because you could be paying a much higher amount than you would otherwise.
Ask lots of questions if you don’t understand any lease clause in the agreement you’re presented with, and do your research. Remember, once you sign the agreement, you’re bound to its terms.