The lease agreement is an essential part of establishing the relationship between a landlord and their tenants, but it is also a common source of strife. Tenants, in particular, often do not realize the potential problems in their lease agreements until it is too late. Here are five things you should look out for in your lease agreement, if you want to avoid potential legal problems down the line:
- Use of rented space
- One of the more common sources of potential disputes comes from how a leased property can be used, and by whom. Often, this involves a tenant allowing someone to stay in their apartment for an extended period of time, or a tenant getting a pet when that is not permitted by the lease. Tenants who violate terms related to the rented space could find their lease suddenly and unceremoniously terminated, or face additional costs related to their violation.
- The duty to repair
- Landlords have a responsibility to repair any damage resulting from ordinary wear and tear, while tenants are responsible for any other types of damage done to the rented property. While it seems like this should be clear on the surface, disputes often arise over terms in the lease agreement over what the landlord or tenant is responsible for. This can lead to tenants accidentally violating their lease when they cause a kind of damage they are responsible for and refuse to fix it, because they believe it is the landlord’s responsibility.
- Early termination restrictions and penalties
- It is common for lease agreements to have restrictions and penalties for a tenant who wants to break their lease early. While there are some legally protected circumstances where a tenant can break their lease without penalty, these are rare and highly circumstantial. If a tenant wants to terminate their lease agreement early, they should make sure to go over the terms of their lease to see what kinds of problems they might face for doing so.
- Security deposits
- Compared to the rest of the lease, the cost of the security deposit is relatively minor, but that does not stop it from being a major source of contention. Some less scrupulous landlords will take extraordinary (and sometimes illegal) steps to hold onto their security deposit. When your lease terminates, make sure you know whether you are entitled to your security deposit, because your landlord may not hand it back without a fight.
- Lease agreements will sometimes allow a tenant to sublet their apartment, effectively letting them to rent to another renter. The terms for these arrangements can be at least as strict as any other part of a lease agreement. A tenant who sublets to the wrong person, or who sublets outside of what their lease permits, can find themselves in a lot of legal or financial trouble.
If you have questions regarding your rights as a landlord or tenant, you should seek advice from an attorney experienced in handling these matters. A New York landlord-tenant lawyer, who is experienced in handling landlord-tenant cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you are facing a dispute over unpaid rent, lease violations, or other similar issues, contact the Suffolk County landlord-tenant attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.