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Leases and Rental Agreements
Many people sign a lease rental agreement without much thought. After all, the landlord does this for a living, especially if it is an apartment lease. Surely the agreement was reviewed by an attorney and it is legally binding.
Needless to say, most landlord tenant lease agreements are reviewed by an attorney – the landlord’s attorney – who has designed it to protect their interests and it is legally binding.
Before signing a lease rental agreement, it is always best to have it reviewed by your own attorney. An attorney who is working for the tenant will make sure that the agreement addresses the “what ifs” that tenants regularly face.
Good Intentions vs. Bad Situations
When you first enter a lease rental agreement or apartment lease, the terms may seem alright to you. Leases usually define a timeline, for instance, agreements to lease the property for a year or five years.
When a landlord tenant lease is prepared for the landlord, it usually doesn’t make acknowledgement or terms to protect the tenant and allow them an option to get out of the lease when facing the unknown and unexpected events of life.
You may sign the lease rental agreement with good intentions thinking that you can live there for the term of the lease – no problem. But what if you lose your job, get transferred, get divorced, your spouse dies, or you run into problems with your roommate carrying their load of the bills?
If the apartment lease or lease rental agreement does not address such instances, the landlord can actually get a judgment against you for the full term of the lease, even if you move.
Deposits and Damages
Security deposits are usually taken to cover damages that you may leave to the apartment or house. There may be terms written into the lease rental agreement concerning the return of the deposit and it may say that the deposit can or cannot be applied to unpaid lease payments.
In some states, it is required that the landlord return the deposit in a certain number of days with a statement for deductions. From time to time, the lease rental agreement states the law, and sometimes it doesn’t. Whether or not is stated, the landlord is bound by it.
Sometimes the landlord will try to apply normal and wear to the deposit, and depending on the state you live in, this may be against the law. In such cases, you need an attorney to make things clear to you and the landlord.
Occasionally landlords attempt to apply damages that already existed when you moved in and deduct them from your deposit. An attorney can help you prepare documentation of preexisting damages that will prevent this from occurring before you sign the lease rental agreement.
In most states, the amount that can be required as a security deposit is limited by law. In reviewing the lease rental agreement, an attorney can make sure that the amount of the deposit is in compliance with the law.
If you are bound by a lease rental agreement and the landlord isn’t living up to their responsibilities, like plumbing repair, heating and cooling, leaky roofs and so forth, it is possible to break the lease. In doing so, you need to consult an attorney and find out about your legal rights. Do not just move out and expect to be able to prove that the landlord defaulted.
If you fall behind on your payments or if the landlord decides that they want you out, you do still have rights. There are laws that exist concerning evictions. Your landlord cannot tell you to get out by the end the week. If you run into a problem like this, it is best to have a lawyer by your side.
Usually a landlord tenant lease says that a default is cause for breaking the lease, but whether or not the lease rental agreement says that, the law overrules and a lease can be broken if the landlord fails to live up to their legal responsibilities or if the tenant fails to pay rent, is a nuisance or continually makes damages to the property. Terms of default on a landlord tenant lease or an apartment lease vary from state to state. An attorney can tell you which laws apply to your individual situation.
The Difference between a Rental Agreement and a Lease Rental Agreement
A rental agreement is usually a month-to-month agreement. It may contain terms for ending the agreement, like a 30 day notice. A lease rental agreement is usually for a longer, preset term – for instance, for a year, two years or five years.
A good lease rental agreement provides terms for either party to end the lease. A bad landlord tenant agreement only provides an out-clause that benefits the landlord. Many tenants sign them without changes and then get stuck in a rut with legal complications.
There are advantages and disadvantages of both a rental agreement and a lease rental agreement and they are opposite from landlords and tenants.
If you are a tenant, the rental agreement is most advantageous because you are only committed to one month at time, so if you decide to move, or your life decides you will move, your obligations are limited. The disadvantage is, the landlord can also require you move when you are not ready.
Most landlords prefer a lease rental agreement because it prevents them from having vacancies and the expenses involved with that. However, if they decide to sell the property or to use the property in another manner, the landlord tenant lease can become a problem.
At any rate, when signing a lease rental agreement, an apartment lease or a rental agreement, it is best to have your own attorney review the contract and make sure that your interests are covered, whether you are a tenant or a landlord. Your interests will be protected throughout the lease, even if things don’t go as planned.