4: Make Your Housing Plan — I Want to Rent

Types of Lease Agreements

Housing leasesA lease is a legal agreement between you and a landlord. Leases obligate you and your landlord to specific commitments. Some landlords may require a co-signer to the lease if you are under a certain age or do not have much credit history.

The most important obligation of your lease is the length of time it is in effect. When you sign a lease, you agree to rent the apartment for a specified period of time and your landlord agrees to rent the property to you for that same amount of time. 

Your lease obligation applies whether you live in the apartment or not. If you choose to leave your rental unit before your lease is up, your landlord legally is entitled to the rent you owe for the time remaining on your lease.

  • Short-term lease: A short-term lease normally will state a fixed monthly rental rate for the entire duration of the lease. If you know you are planning to stay in the apartment or house only for a short time, it makes sense to get a short-term lease.
  • Month-to-month lease: With a month-to-month lease, you agree to rent for a month at a time. Your rental price is subject to change at any time (as long as your landlord provides the appropriate notice to you as defined in your lease). If you are unsure about how long you will occupy the rental unit, a month-to-month lease may be the best option for you.
  • Subleasing: If you sublease (sometimes called sublet) an apartment or house, you are renting a property under an original lease that someone else holds. You normally work out the arrangements with the original tenant rather than the landlord. If you are going to sublease, be sure to obtain written consent from the landlord allowing you to live in the apartment or house for the duration of your agreement with the original leaseholder. 

No matter the type of lease, be very sure that you understand and can meet the terms of your rental agreement. If for some reason you want to end your lease early, carefully read your rental agreement to understand any penalties for breaking the lease. You may owe a part or all of your remaining rent for the year, owe a hefty fee or lose your security deposit.

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