Aren't All Leases Standard? What Difference Does It Make Whether The Tenant Reads The Lease Before Signing It?

Although many leases are similar, there is no such thing as a standard lease provided or approved by any public agency or court. Lease agreements differ from landlord to landlord. Therefore, it is very important to read the lease carefully before signing it. The lease is a legal document which defines the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. Both the landlord and the tenant will be held to the language of the lease. If there are provisions in the lease which you do not understand, get help. Ask someone you trust to explain what the language means. Be careful of lease terms which provide for the following:


  • Automatic renewal of the lease for a specified time;
  • An extremely long lease term with penalties for early termination;
  • Automatic rent increases during the lease term;
  • References to rules which are not provided to you;
  • Any attempt by the landlord to make you responsible for repairs;
  • Leases which provide that the tenant pays the landlord directly for utilities rather than being billed by the utility provider;
  • Provisions which require the tenant to pay the landlord`s attorney fees if a landlord hires an attorney to enforce the lease, unless the provision also makes the landlord responsible for the tenant`s attorney`s fees;
  • Lease terms which claim that the landlord can evict you without going through the dispossessory process; and
  • Lease terms requiring the tenant to have renter`s insurance.

Before a lease is signed, a tenant may request changes to the lease. Some landlords will agree to the changes. Others will not. Even if the landlord will not alter a lease, the tenant needs to read it to decide whether or not to sign. If signed, both the landlord and tenant will be required to comply with the lease.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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