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Understanding Your Lease Agreement

Having a successful tenancy builds a refugee’s and newcomer's rental history. This sheet covers how to understand a lease and the legal responsibilities implied so that a refugee or newcomer knows what to look out for before signing.

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Understand the terms of your lease:

Landlord Information
At times, the point of contact for the property you seek to lease is listed with a property management company. It is essential to know who your actual landlord is in case of any issues that may arise.

Break Lease Clause
Lease agreements typically include a “break lease” clause that is in place to protect landlords if a tenant decides to break a lease. It often outlines the circumstances for a lease to be broken, and includes certain fees you may be required to pay

Maintenance and Repairs
As a tenant, you’ll want to know what type of repairs or upkeep you are responsible for and who is responsible for routine maintenance (i.e. upkeep of smoke detectors, changing air filters, or lawn care).

If you have pets, you need to know if they are allowed in the rental property and if there is a pet deposit required on top of your regular deposit. There may be strict policies regarding what pets are and are not allowed.

Additional Fees
Within the lease agreement, there may be other fees to be aware of (i.e. when a rent payment is considered late, and what kinds of fees go into effect when there is a late payment).

Renter’s Insurance
Landlords may require a tenant to obtain renter’s insurance. Typically, a lease agreement will reveal if renter’s insurance is required and what needs to be covered in the policy.

Sometimes utilities are covered in the monthly rent, but many times they are not covered. For example, sometimes utilities like water and trash removal are covered, but internet service is not typically covered.