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The lease is a legally contract, which once signed, binds both parties to the terms of the lease. Before signing a lease, read it carefully and make sure to understand all terms within the lease. You may want to have an advisory agent (i.e. parent, lawyer) review the lease and clarify any ambiguous information within the lease. You may be able to alter the lease with the permission of the landlord. After you are certain of the terms of the lease and feel confident in the contract, then it may be the time to sign. However, do not feel pressured to sign a lease if you are uncomfortable with the terms of the lease.
- Repairs - If nothing is stated, the landlord may deduct from the security deposit in order to pay for repairs. Check for a clause dealing with repairs. If one is not stated, discuss who will be responsible for certain repairs and under what conditions will repairs be warranted.
- Rental Payment - The amount of rent due should be clearly specified. Find out the penalty for late payments as well.
- Length - The dates of the lease period should be specified. Examine this section closely. Find out about rent increases during the time of the lease.
- Security Deposit - This amount should also be clearly stated. Discuss with the landlord the conditions for the return of the deposit. Ask about the time period for its return as well.
- Utilities - Check to see what utilities are included in your rent agreement. If you must pay utilities, ask where you can find estimates for how much specific utilities will cost for the specified residence.
- Landlord's Access - Some leases may allow the landlord to enter the premises at any time. Protect your right to privacy by adding a clause to the lease stipulating the landlord give at least 24 hours notice to have access to the premises.
- Rules of Behavior - Read this section carefully. If the landlord states that there are no parties in the residence, abide by that statement. Violating this could lead to eviction. This may also pertain to pets and quiet hours. Check to see if there are any additional restrictions that may inhibit your comfort of living.
- Addendum - In addition to the standard lease, many landlords will add additional terms to the lease. These are also legally binding.
Get everything in writing. This will help protect you from any surprises that may come up. Once again, understand everything in a lease before signing.