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What Are Your Rights in a Lease?

RESIDENTIAL LEASE AGREEMENT - 11/05/13

Leasing property is a unique situation that gives tenants certain rights to other peoples' homes even though they do not own the home themselves.

What Is a Lease?


A lease is a legal agreement between the property owner and the tenant, and the lease agreement guarantees both parties certain legal rights and responsibilities.

Many leases are geared toward providing certain benefits to the property owner, but this is understandable given that they are risking the actual property in the arrangement. However, there are very specific rights conferred upon the tenant in a lease agreement and it is important for each tenant to not only understand their rights, but to have the confidence to enforce their rights should the situation arise. There are specific things that a tenant can do to make sure they fully understand their rights in a lease agreement.

1. It Is Vital to Thoroughly Understand Your Lease

The first and most important action for a tenant to take is to thoroughly read the lease agreement prior to signing it and understand all of the details and clauses that are held within it. It is not uncommon for a stipulation to be present in a lease agreement that a tenant might find objectionable, and the time to inquire about it is not after the lease is signed. It is also vital that all agreements between the landlord and the tenant be in writing and signed by all parties involved.

2. Tenants Have a Right to a Safe Habitat and Privacy

Once the tenant occupies the property, it is important that they understand their rights to a safe habitat and their right to privacy. If the tenant notices an issue with the property that affects their ability to fully enjoy the premises, they should bring that to the landlord's attention immediately and preferably in writing. This can be via text message or email as long as a communication trail is available. The tenant should understand that leasing a property is a business transaction and not a personal relationship. It is more than acceptable that tenants be aware of and enforce their rights to a safe and clean place to live.

3. Understand Your Rights under State Law

It is also important for tenants to understand their privacy rights regarding when a landlord may or may not enter the premises. Being aware of the local and state law requirements for the amount of notification a landlord must give a tenant prior to entering the property will go a long way toward keeping a nosey landlord from interfering with a tenant's privacy.

The best way for tenants to solve issues with their landlord is to prevent them from occurring by making it clear that they are fully aware of their rights in the lease agreement and that they fully intend to defend them if necessary. This can be done in a friendly and businesslike manner and many landlords will find this type of awareness of rights and responsibilities refreshing.

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Staff Writer

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