Before signing the lease

Prior to signing the lease agreement, it would be wise to ask your housing provider the following set of questions to ensure that you are fully aware of the terms of the lease agreement and responsibilities that you will acquire throughout the rental process. Be sure to carefully read the actual lease agreement as well.

Questions to Ask

Application

  • Am I required to submit an application?
  • Is there a fee to apply?
  • Is the fee refundable?
  • Do I need to provide a rental history?
  • Will I need a co-signer?

Rent

  • What is the cost of the rent?
  • When is the rent due?
  • Is there a grace period?
  • Is there a penalty for late rent?
  • What is the preferred method of payment?

Security Deposit

  • How much is the security deposit?
  • What are the conditions for return of the security deposit?

Additional Costs

  • Are utilities included in the rent?
  • Are pets allowed? If so, is there additional cost?
  • Are there any other additional fees?
  • Is the dwelling furnished?

Time of Occupancy

  • When is the move-in date?
  • What is the term of the lease?
  • How long am I committing to live there?
  • How much notice is required before moving out?

Roommates/Sublease

  • What is the maximum number of roommates?
  • Do additional roommates sign a separate lease?
  • Is subletting allowed?

Repairs

  • Do you use a rental checklist to document any existing damage to the dwelling?
  • Who is responsible for repairs?
  • How do I submit a maintenance request?
  • Can I make changes (e.g., paint walls, install shelving)?

Parking

  • Is parking available?
  • How many spots are available per unit?
  • Laundry
  • Are laundry machines available on the premises?
  • If so, is there an additional fee to use them?

What to expect when signing a lease

    The following information provides a brief overview of what you should expect in your lease agreement and examples of illegal lease provisions. Please read all the fine print of your lease agreement and if you have questions about it ask your landlord or ASOSU Legal Services for clarification.

    The lease should include

    • Amount of rent Length of the rental period
    • Amount of security and any other deposits, along with the return date
    • Name of the owner and manager and their contact information
    • Name of all the inhabitants
    • Date rent is due, late fees and when they are assessed
    • Who is responsible for repairs and a protocol for maintenance requests
    • Whether changes can be made to the property (e.g., painting walls)
    • Whether subleases/assignments are allowed and under what terms
    • When a landlord may enter your rental unit
    • Whether pets are allowed and if a pet deposit is required
    • Whether the entire property is leased or it is rented by room

    Illegal Lease Provisions

    • Withholding refund of prepaid rent or a deposit without cause
    • Charging a late fee more than 10 percent of the monthly rent
    • Filing suit or claims against tenants in court without notification
    • Terminating the rental agreement and evicting tenants without notification
    • Prohibiting tenants from defending themselves in court if the landlord sues or evicts the tenant
    • Allowing the landlord to switch the locks or otherwise denying entrance to the property if the tenant is late paying rent
    • Allowing the landlord to keep the tenant’s personal property if the tenant is late on rent or evicted

    Other lease considerations

    When it comes to signing a lease or any other legal document, it is important to be prepared for both the expected and unexpected. For example, if you are planning on studying abroad or taking a term off for personal reasons you should be aware of how that will impact you legally and financially when it comes to your lease.

    Terminating Your Lease Early

    • The very first step to take when you’re considering breaking lease is to thoroughly read your rental agreement. Lease agreements generally include a clause that details fees in the case of early lease termination.
    • Tenants are legally responsible for rent until the property is rented again or the lease has expired.
    • A voluntary early termination of a lease can occur at any time by mutual agreement of the landlord and tenant.
    • Not all landlords offer the option of early termination. If this is the case, and you’re still moving out, you could either continue to pay rent or work out a sublease agreement if allowed.
    • Depending on the terms of the lease, you may be liable for the landlord’s reasonable costs of re-renting the property.
    • It is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice before terminating your lease early. Contact ASOSU Student Legal Services.

    Assignments

    • If you must terminate your lease agreement early, assigning can occur only with landlord or property manager approval.
    • Assignment replaces you with someone new and removes you from further lease obligations.

    Subletting

    • When you sublet your place, a third party known as a subtenant takes over your lease.
    • Before you pursue subletting read your lease agreement carefully because many lease agreements do not allow subletting without permission from the property manager.
    • You are responsible for finding this subtenant, and subletting does not release you from the responsibilities of your lease if the subtenant fails to fulfill their obligations.
    • If you have roommates, discuss the idea of subleasing just your part of the lease. It is important that your roommates are in agreement. Find out what requirements your current roommate/s have for your replacement. Since they will have to live with this person, you should have them meet and approve your subtenant.

    Security Deposit

    • When changing assignment or finding a subtenant, there should be some discussion/agreement concerning what portion of the security deposit should be refunded to the departing tenant.
    • Most landlords require the security deposit refund be coordinated between the incoming and outgoing tenants.

     

    Next Step: Moving In