You’ve finally found the perfect place to live and you’re ready to sign the lease. Out comes a massive document filled with fine print and countless provisions, don’t worry though, you have Legal Resources! As part of the Legal Resources Plan, Members have access to an attorney review of their lease.
Here are a few of the things an attorney will check for when reviewing a lease.
- How long does the lease run? While a one year lease is typical, a month-to-month lease might offer you greater flexibility if you are living someplace for a short time, such as during a school semester.
- If the lease prohibits you from using the premises for a home business.
- Is there a limit on the number of people who can live on the premises?
- A clause prohibiting pets. The landlord might be convinced to drop the provision.
- Review the provisions in the lease relating to ending the tenancy. How much advance notice do you have to give to the landlord? If you don’t give notice on time, will the lease automatically extend for another lease term?
- The lease may have a provision saying that if you break the lease you will automatically have to pay the landlord a stated amount of money. This kind of provision is called a “liquidated damages clause.” It means that the landlord will not have to prove the actual amount of money damage your breach would cause. These provisions can be very unfair to the tenant. Don’t get stuck with one!
- When is rent due, and are there late fees? Is there a grace period for late rent before a penalty is enforced?
- What are the security deposit requirements? Does your state require that the deposit be returned with interest and an itemized statement of deductions from the deposit? Does the lease reflect that requirement?
- Who is responsible for utilities?
- What are the landlord’s responsibilities to make repairs and perform maintenance?
An attorney’s advice is a valuable tool to have at your side in many matters both in and out of the courtroom. If you are a Legal Resources member, contact your plan attorney directly when you have questions about a legal matter. If you’d like more details on ways attorneys can help in everyday life, contact the certified paralegals on our Member Services Team at 800-728-5768.