What should I look for when signing a lease agreement?

Signing a lease is a big deal. Although many people will choose to do so without reading, or understanding, the fine print, this action could be regrettable. A lease is a legally binding agreement, and all of the details could have an affect on your life. From cleaning and pets to landscaping and parties, it is very important you understand what is expected from you. Failure to read over you lease could result in a breach of contract or dispute, in which you may need the assistance of a real estate lawyer, like Timothy Kassouni, an appeals lawyer in Los Angeles, CA

If you do not understand your lease agreement, you can ask your landlord for clarification or have a real estate lawyer review it to ensure its accuracy. The following are some points to consider when you sign a lease. 

The Rental Amount and Date It’s Due

Your lease should clearly define the rent you are expected to pay. If you believe the rent to be a certain amount, but it is more or less, you should confirm no error has been made. Make sure that any extra fees are explicitly stated or included in the rental fee (i.e. landscaping, garbage, pets, etc). You should also note the date in which the rent is due, how it can be paid, and where. Confirm whether there is a grace period before rent is deemed to be late. If there are late charges, be sure these are also included in the lease agreement. 

Lease Termination and Renewing

Usually a lease will end on a specific date which is stated in the agreement; however, this is not always true. There are leases which have an automatic renewal unless you give a written notice in advance (typically 30-90 days). 

Your lease agreement should include the details of what will happen in the event you terminate your lease before it’s up. Some landlords will charge a fee equivalent to one or two months rent. If no fee is mentioned, you may be responsible for paying for the rent until the lease is up. 

Roommates and Guests 

In general, you should be able to have guests over. However, there may be a policy that discusses your ability to have a roommate. It is not uncommon for a lease to have a policy that states a guests cannot stay at your property for more than 10-15 days in a 3-6 month period of time. 

Subletting Your Property

If you plan on being away from your property for a period of time, you might wish to sublet it to another person while you are gone. Before you sublet, you should review your lease agreement to determine whether this is okay. Many landlords do not allow it, others are fine with it, and some ask that you get approval first. If you lease does not include anything about subletting, it may be a good idea to talk with your landlord. 

Your Responsibilities

Usually with a rental property, the landlord will be responsible for repairs. Maintenance on the other hand may vary. Mowing the lawn, cleaning, landscaping, changing HVAC filters, minor repairs, and so forth could be your responsibility. This should be clarified in your lease, as well as, any related maintenance fees.