Apartment Lease Agreement Lingo 101

New renter reviewing their apartment lease agreement with pen in handTalk about nerve wracking! Applying for an apartment and reading over the lease or rental agreement can definitely bring beads of sweat to your forehead. Lease agreements are contracts that define tenant-landlord relationships and often use confusing “legalese.” Even the simplest apartment leases can use some pretty uncommon terms and phrases. Do you really know what everything means? It may be good to double check your lease know-how before signing on the dotted line. Here are some quick and easy definitions for common lease terms to help you understand what you’re signing.

The basic lingo: What you need to know to get started

Landlord/Owner: Pretty straight forward. This is the person you are renting the apartment from. The owner of the property.

Lease Term: This is the length of time that the leasing agreement is in effect. Usually one year, but some landlords will agree to a short-term lease for six months, three months, or even month-to-month. Read more about different types of lease terms.

Premise: The property being leased in the agreement. In other words, the apartment, condo, duplex, studio, or bedroom you’re looking to call home!

Tenant: That’s you! The future resident of the property being leased.

Lessee: You again! The person signing the lease as the tenant.

Leasor: The person renting the apartment to you. It’s probably the same as the landlord, but it could also be a property manager or someone else in charge of leasing the apartment to renters.

Eviction: Oooo, this is a scary word. This means that your landlord is kicking you out of the apartment or ending your lease before the lease term is up. Your landlord typically has to notify you in writing before evicting you, and often only under certain circumstances such as failure to pay rent. Find out what the eviction laws are in your state.

Default: This is a failure to meet the requirements of the lease. For example, you might be in “default” if you fail to pay rent or if you try to move before the lease term is up.

Liability: Legalese for “problem.” You might have seen it on signs in locker rooms, waiting rooms, and parking lots that say things like, “Management is not liable for lost, stolen, or damaged property.” Translation: If your stuff gets messed up or stolen, it’s not their problem.

Speak fluent legalese: Know that lease agreement like the back of your hand

Possession: The lawful occupation and use of land. As a tenant, paying rent gives you “possession” of the land but not “ownership” of it.

Quiet Enjoyment: Quiet enjoyment means that tenants in possession of a property have the right to privacy. In other words, the landlord can’t come barging in whenever they want to check up on you.

Abatement of Rent: This basically means you don’t have to pay rent under certain conditions that make the premise unlivable, like if the roof caves in or there’s a fire.

Base Rent: This tricky little term means that there are certain conditions under which your landlord could raise the rent within the lease term. Usually, landlords have to wait for the lease to end before raising the rent. Make sure you are clear on when and how your landlord might increase the cost of your rent.

Arrears: Sounds like “a rear.” If you get behind on the rent, this is legal term for all the back rent you owe.

Parties to a Lease: Nope, this isn’t referring to the next seriously awesome bash you’re throwing. This term refers to anyone who agrees to a lease. This includes you, the landlord, the property management, and any roommates also living with you.

Waiver: Agreeing to give up something that you are entitled to according to the law.

Severability: This means that if part of the contract you are signing (in this case the lease) is later found to be illegal or invalid, the rest of the contract is still binding. Essentially, any invalid parts can be cut out without affecting the rest of the contract.

And the hunt begins! Time to apartment search like a pro

Now that you know how to read common terms found in lease agreements, you’re ready to look for your next home on ApartmentSearch.com. Start searching, save your favorite properties, and find your next apartment on ApartmentSearch.com. You could receive up to $200 in rewards. Seriously!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

What’s the Difference Between a Joint Lease and an Individual Lease?

Renter on bed, debating over individual or joint lease apartment optionsFilling out the application for an apartment and then reading through the lease can be a confusing process. We understand.

One of the things that might be a bit hard to understand before you sign on the dotted line is the difference between an individual lease and a joint lease. We’re going to break it down for you.

Individual Lease Apartments vs. Joint Leases

An Individual Lease

As explained by the University of Kentucky, an individual lease means you’re financially responsible only for your part of the rent and other expenses associated with an apartment. Under this scenario, each roommate has his or her own lease. So, if your roommate moves out unexpectedly and each of you has an individual lease, then the landlord can’t force you to cover your ex-roommate’s part of the rent. Think of this as a “by the bedroom lease.”

“Individual rental agreements mean that each tenant is responsible for their own behavior and decisions separately,” according to Tenants Union of Washington State.

A Joint Lease

On the other hand, a joint lease — in legalese, this refers to the lease’s “joint and several liability” clause — puts full financial responsibility for the rent and related expenses on all of the tenants, the University of Kentucky says. In this situation, all of the roommates are listed on a single lease. Think of this as a “by the apartment lease.”

“Unfair as this practice seems, this clause is enforceable. If may be a good idea to have one tenant responsible for paying the rent and have all roommates pay that person,” the University of Kansas recommends.

Tenants Union of Washington State gives this example of what can go wrong if you have a joint lease:

You and two roommates share an apartment, and all three of you are listed on the joint lease. Each of you is supposed to pay one-third of the rent. But if one of the roommates fails to pay, the landlord could send a notice to all three tenants demanding payment of the one-third of the rent that hasn’t been collected. If that rent isn’t paid within a certain period, all three roommates could be evicted — not just the roommate who didn’t pay his or her share of the rent.

Under a joint lease, you also could be left paying for damage caused by a roommate. The Tenant Resource Center offers this example:

Joey punches a hole in one of the walls one night and then relocates to Mexico for work a couple of weeks later. Kyle, the remaining roommate on the joint lease, moves out of the apartment, but still lives in the same town. Since Kyle is easier to track down, the landlord likely will come after him for money to fix the damaged wall.

Tips for Handling Joint Lease & Individual Lease Situations

To avoid sticky lease situations with roommates, experts offer these tips:

  • Get an individual lease for each roommate, instead of a joint lease covering all of the roommates.
  • Carefully screen roommates before moving in. Pick a roommate who’s responsible, not flaky, and who’ll pay his or her fair share.
  • Avoid surprises by reading through the lease to make sure you know what your rights and responsibilities are.
  • Consider going to court. If a roommate moves out and you had a joint lease, you can sue the ex-roommate in small claims court to try to recover the money that you were stuck paying for something like a hole punched in a wall.

Whether you’re aiming for a joint lease or an individual lease on an apartment, you can start your apartment hunt on ApartmentSearch.com and always come out on top. Regardless of the type of lease you sign, you’re eligible to receive $200 in rewards!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com