Signing a Lease

Leases are legally binding contracts that should be entered into with care. A lease provides the terms of the rental agreement between the landlord and the tenant. Since every lease agreement is different, it is critical that students fully review the document and are comfortable with the terms of the agreement before signing.

What should be included in a lease?

Name, address and other contact details of the tenant and the landlord.

The duration of the lease - the start and end dates. 

How much and the frequency of the payment (also called the rent of the property).

Security deposit if any and the conditions of its return.

The parties who are living in the house – number of roommates

Whether the lease can be renewed or not – and on what conditions.

Determine which party (tenant or landlord) covers the cost of utilities and services, such as heat, water, sewer, lawn care, snow removal, etc.

What to consider when signing a lease

Do not be pressured into signing the lease or any other documents.

Do not sign the lease until you have decided to rent that space.

Negotiate with the landlord to obtain the best monthly rate. Do not simply take the landlord's first offer.

Strive for a one year lease with an option to renew. Leases longer than one year may commit you to a house or apartment that may become unsuitable for you as time goes by.

Get all changes initialed by the landlord.

Keep a copy of the lease (fully-signed).

Upon signing the lease be prepared to pay the deposit.

Date check for the first month of occupancy.

Ensure that everything you and the landlord agree to is fully delineated in the lease. If you fail to do so, you shall be hard pressed to prove any agreements made outside the terms of the written lease.

Ask that separate leases be created for each person, as this will avoid any problems that may arise should one or more of your roommates quit the leased premises.