As a prospective tenant, it is easy to overlook alot of things if you fall in love with a home! But it is important to look past the initial "love" and make sure the home is in good working and living condition. Once you are satisfied and have been approved for the home, the next important step is to ask for the rental lease so you can review it before signing.
And when you get it - make sure you read it thoroughly and ask questions.
Each state has laws and rules landlords (and tenants) must follow. There are things each side can and cannot do. And then there are some things (and/or clauses) used in leases that are questionable and should be checked out to make sure it is legal and/or valid. How would you know?
First of all, if it doesn't seem right - ask about it. Second, there are some words or phrases that send up flags. Some include:
Waive. If you see any sentence that begins with, "Tenant waives their right to..." - flag it and ask. But don't just ask the landlord, ask an independent person who knows landlord tenant laws in your state.
As Is. If you see this phrase in any part of the lease - have the landlord define "as is" or better yet, remove it from the lease.
Anytime. This word usually comes in a sentence that reads, "Landlord can access unit/home anytime ..." Be aware - in general, tenants have a right to privacy - and a landlord must give notice to access the home. Usually, a landlord can access anytime only in emergency situations.
Tenant responsible. Make sure you read these clauses very carefully - especially if it's followed by the words "repairs and fix".
Automatic. Another word to be very careful of. Usually this word precedes or follows the phrases, "Automatic lease renewal.." or "Automatic rent increase or fees".
Change. Or May Change followed by the words "at anytime". Typically, this is a big red flag and something that definitely needs clarification or again, removed from the lease.
Vague. Vague typically is not a word in a lease - but it's more a sense of something, phrases or a clause that isn't clear. It's vague. If something isn't clear, get the details and get them in writing!
This is not to say these words can't or shouldn't be used in a lease - it's more to provide some "tenant be aware" cautions! Just make sure you read and know before signing!
This blog is written with my opinions and my opinions are presented with accuracy but not guarantees. Please talk to a professional before making any real estate, financial or agency decisions. Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind - 2014. If you want to reprint parts of this - just email me for my permission: KGCProperties@gmail.com .