How to Read Your Rent Contract

Before moving into a rental property, chances are you will have to sign a rent contract. Understanding the details of this rent contract before signing it and moving into a property is very important for all the tenants who will be living in the home. Even though all rental contracts will be slightly different, the basic information contained in all of them will be nearly the same. Additional clauses may be offered for special circumstances, and these clauses should be discussed in detail with the landlord to be sure the understanding is mutual before any signatures are added to the rent contract.


Standard Information: Property Address, Rental Amount, and Term of Agreement


This information will be standard in all rent contracts. It will include information on the property address, the amount of rent that is to be paid each month, the due date of the rental amount, and if any lease is required, the length of the lease. It will stipulate what happens at the end of the rental term. Does the lease need to be negotiated for another year or will it go month-to-month? 


Common Clauses: Disturbance and Illegal Use of the Property


This information will basically say that the tenants agree to remain quiet and not to do anything that will cause damage or excessive noise to bother the other tenants or the building. It also says the property will not be used to conduct illegal activity of any sort. As long as you are quiet and mind your business, there is not much to worry about. Having guests over means that you are responsible for them and will ensure they too will abide by these rules.


Common Clauses: Other Regulations, Termination, Loss and Damage


Other regulations clauses usually state that the landlord can add and change regulations without having to come to you for your agreement. Though it sounds bad, it is traditionally used to cover small incidents where say for instance, a repair is being made to a toilet. The landlord has the right to ask you not to use the toilet until appropriate repairs have been made.  The termination clause will explain the process and penalty for terminating the lease early. The loss and damage clause will make you responsible for paying the landlord if you cause damage or an accident that harms the premises or someone else. 


Common Clauses: Notice, Pets, and Repairs


The notice clause will require you to give the landlord a notice, usually 30 days when you intend to move out. This will help them in securing more tenants for the property. The pets clause will detail what if any, pets are allowed and whether they are allowed to be kept inside or outside the home. If pets are allowed, the clause will detail additional fees required. The repairs clause basically makes the landlord responsible for all major repair,  requires him to keep the premises in livable condition, and allows for normal wear and tear while you live on the property.


It is a good idea to have a lawyer look over the rent contract before you sign it to make sure you understand everything you are agreeing to, to make sure everything is legal, and that your rights are protected when signing the agreement. If anything doesn’t seem right, discuss it with the landlord and ask changes be made, or refuse to sign it and move on to another property.

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