When you rent a property, you occupy a space owned by someone else. Your lease is the contractual agreement that gives you permission to live there. It will contain legally binding rules that you (and the property owner) have to follow.
If you don't know the ins and outs of your lease, you might find yourself in a bind when a problem arises in the home. Review your lease to see how it governs the following topics:
1. Renters Insurance
Most property owners require their tenants to carry renters insurance. Usually, coverage provides liability protection in case the renter harms a third party. It will also usually contain possessions coverage to protect your personal belongings.
2. Maintenance Rules
Often, the homeowner and tenant share responsibilities for upkeep of the property. For example, the homeowner might cover major utility repairs, while it remains the tenant's responsibility to pay for yardwork. You should always know what responsibilities fall solely under the homeowner's jurisdiction. Familiarize yourself with how to notify your landlord of any maintenance issues.
3. Regulations Regarding Cleanliness and Pest Avoidance
Many homeowners, by law, must provide pest control services for their tenants. However, tenants also usually have an obligation to report and prevent pest development. Do your part to keep a sanitary, clean home.
4. Occupancy Changes
You will likely have to give notice of any changes in your residency. For example, when moving out, your lease might require 90 days' notice or certain fees.
You might even have to notify the property owner when another person - or even a pet - moves into the home. Homeowners might increase your rent in these situations. If you don't tell them about the occupancy changes, they could ask you to move out. Therefore, review your lease if you expect occupancy changes.
5. Payment Rules
Always know your lease's rules for rent payment, utilities coverage and other bills. For example, some leases require renters to pay for utilities and rent separately. Others combine the two. Make sure you know when payments will be due and any late fees. Make sure your landlord will notify you if they have to increase your costs.
Check your lease to see how it impacts visitors in the rented space. Does your lease allow overnight visitors? Will it require you to notify the landlord if someone plans to stay longer than a few days?
It is usually best to let a trusted realtor or legal counsel review your lease before you sign. They might be able to help you negotiate better leasing terms. If you ever have questions about your renters insurance, contact a TCU Insurance agent for more information.