The Importance of a Lease

A lease must contain several principles to be considered a legal agreement. Anytime an individual enters into an agreement that has legal ramifications and requirements, it is crucial to understand what you and your landlord are mandated to do. Most people do not immediately own a home without ever leasing or renting a property first. This means that it often one of the first real estate contracts and legal documents a young adult will enter. Leases often are required to be in writing, contain the names of all tenants, disclose an explicit amount of rent to be paid, layout the timeframe, any required fees, and especially tenant and landlord rights and restrictions. It is a bilateral contract, meaning each party is responsible to their own promise and violating the contract has consequences. When either party stands to lose something, it is imperative they understand what is being agreed to.

Making Adjustments

With a bilateral agreement, any changes will not take effect unless agreed upon by each party. It can prove to be a hinderance if the original document wasn’t reviewed carefully or completely understood leaving a party in distress. Most additions or adjustments require an additional addendum or rider to clarify and outline new terms. When recalling or re-evaluating an original agreement, having it in writing helps to eliminate questions about what was previously ratified. Living in the rental of a friend or family member feels informal but even so, appropriate documenting the transaction helps provide a basis of reference, especially if a disagreement occurs at some point down the road. Besides adjustments, disclosures are a very important part of the leasing process. The seller is obligate to share any material information about the property that may influence the buyer’s decision to rent there. Safety concerns are among the most prioritized disclosure but rules on pets, property use, and modifications

Gross vs Gross Negligence

Even with all the guidelines and rights a tenant has, none of them require the landlord to provide the nicest or most update apartment in the area. Simply because a space isn’t appealing doesn’t mean it is violating any laws or guidelines for rentals. At its core, the main concern is that it is considered livable without the tenant’s health or wellbeing at risk. The presence of pests and garage, and unfunctional components of the home may be grounds that the home is unlivable for humans. In New York, among the requirements of a decently pest-free and clean environment, heat and hot water must be provided. The carpet may not have been freshly steam-cleaned and may have the appearance of being “gross” but where gross turns into gross negligence is when you are under the impression that your landlord is purposely refusing or delaying fixing or correcting problems with the residence that are impeding on your quality of life and health.

Congregate and Correct

Once the issues have gotten to a point that you start looking for outside help to have your needs addressed, there are an assortment of options. 311 is a phone number tenants can call to make a documented report on your landlord. Also, you can connect with other disgruntled tenants to form a coalition to seek collective legal support and receive guidance on how to handle an unresponsive landlord. When visit with legal organization that operate on behalf of tenant interests, your case will need evidence in the form of communication with the landlord, reports, pictures, and service requests. Not paying your rent is an option that can come back to bite you and should only be visited if all other resources have been expended and you are advised to do so by a legal representative. It is your right to meet with other tenants to discuss grievances and devise a plan of action. Your landlord can’t prevent or disallow these meetings.

Privacy and Possession

Referring to an earlier point, a lease agreement must state it’s beginning and ending date. If the landlord fails to have the property in the appropriate condition for a move-in, then any pre-paid fees shall be returned to the tenant if desired. Move-in is known as taking possession of a property, once you enter a lease – as common sense as it may seem, you must obtain the right to use the property for its intended purpose on the exact date stated in the lease. The home should be in appropriate condition as far as cleanliness and functionality. Should there be anything that needs repairs or adjustments, your landlord and his agents may enter the property. Once appropriate notice is given, they may enter the home to make repairs and show the unit to future residents. It is to be noted that notice from 24 hours to a week may be necessary to legally gain access to your home.

Equality

A landlord’s status as property owner doesn’t allow them the right choose tenant based on immaterial information such as race, religion, familial status, sex, disability, and age. Every applicant and furthermore any tenant is legally has a right to be evaluated by the same principles. Sources of income can’t legally be denied if they meet the requirements, if they come from verified and lawful sources. If a future or current resident has a disability, the landlord is required to make reasonable adjustments so they may gain the same functionality out of the home as any other tenant which may include and not be limited to ramps and handrails.

Access to Utilities

It is included with the possession of the property that necessities such as electricity, running water, etc are functional. Whether it is paid by the landlord or the tenant it is required that they be available and in working order.

Transferring Rights

You are at liberty to sublease your apartment with permission from your landlord in properties that meet the required size and ownership requirements. If all aspects are met then your landlord can’t legally deny your request, if denied and you can prove you meet the circumstances eligible for subletting then you are at liberty to contact an attorney or your state’s housing department.