Understanding Common Lease Provisions & Clauses - For a First Time Tenant

Friday, June 27, 2014

Blog Image

For many students, attending college or university will mark their first time living on their own and away from home. It will also likely be the first time they sign a lease. It goes without saying that it’s of utmost importance to read a lease before signing it; but reading it versus understand it are two entirely different things.


Legal documents like leases are often filled with jargon that may be unfamiliar to first time tenants. This blog post aims to help students understand some of the common clauses and provisions that are found in leases.


Two of the most common and important provisions found in leases are the notice and termination provisions. The notice provision will specify how much notice a tenant must provide the landlord before they end a lease. In most cases, tenants will be required to provide anywhere between 30-90 days of notice to their landlord. The termination provision will often tell you if a lease automatically terminates at the end of the period, or if it automatically renews. This section may also include information about the consequences of terminating a lease before it’s agreed upon end date.

Another common provision that applies to students is a subletting provision. This section spells out the terms and conditions of subletting a rental to another individual. In most cases, subletting is permitted; however, the landlord will typically need to issue written consent to the tenant who wishes to sublet. It’s advised to always contact the landlord before subletting a rental unit. Keep in mind the original tenant is almost always responsible for paying the rent, regardless of who lives in it. So if the subtenant doesn’t pay the rent, it’s still the original tenant’s responsibility to pay the landlord.


Students who plan on sharing accommodations with a roommate will want to understand joint and several liability clauses. This type of clause means that every person who signs the lease as a renter is responsible for everyone else. For example, if a student signs a lease with a roommate and the roommate drops out of school and stops paying rent, the student that stays is responsible for paying the roommate’s share of rent. This might sound unfair, but shows why it’s important to very carefully select a roommate. The only way to recuperate lost money in this situation would be to sue the roommate, which isn’t exactly an easy thing to accomplish.


Many students will often have guests over to their place or organize a gathering of some sorts. A use of premises provision typically addresses the limitations of the number of people who can occupy a residence or the amount of time a guest is allowed to stay at the residence for extended periods, without being classified as a tenant. If you plan on having a long-term visitor, it may conflict with this type of lease provision.


Utility and service provisions are fairly straight forward, as they relate to exactly what utilities and services are included with the rental rate. These provisions can get a little tricky if they include usage limitations. For example, Internet bandwidth overage fees can be quite costly. Some landlords and property managers may implement a bandwidth limit, if Internet is included with the rental rate. If tenants go over the bandwidth, they will be responsible for any additional charges from the Internet service provider.


At some point or another, the landlord may want to access the rental unit to do repairs or simply to check up on it. Entry provisions typically cover the circumstances under which the landlord can enter the rental property. In most instances, a landlord must provide at least 24 hours notice before entering a rental property, unless it’s an emergency. Some leases may spell out exactly how and when the landlord can enter the rental unit while the tenant is residing there. 


Students seeking more information about lease clauses and provisions can find information through their local landlord and tenant board. 

SEE ALSO: Your Lease Isn't Like A Software Licensing Agreement - Read It!

The Places4Students.com Team