Before you sign, read each line
Finding the right housing involves more than touring apartments and picking out furniture. The lease you sign is a binding contract, so familiarize yourself with some of the terms that can appear within your lease. Always read the fine print.
- Access devices: Things used to gain access, such as apartment keys, mailbox keys and gate remotes or cards.
- Addendum: A section on a lease.
- Affidavit: A written oath that the information you have provided is true.
- Animal deposit: Money you pay to keep a pet in your apartment. Might be refundable.
- Cashier’s check: A check guaranteed by a bank.
- Contractual lien: A charge on your property for the payment of a debt you owe.
- Co-signer: Someone who would take financial responsibility if you can’t pay rent.
- Damages: Repairs or other amounts you pay that your deposit does not cover.
- Default: Failure to meet financial obligations.
- Door viewer: Peephole to see who’s at the door.
- Eviction: Your forcible removal from the property should you fail to comply with the lease terms.
- Furnished or unfurnished: Whether the apartment includes furniture. Furnished apartments include furniture or other items.
- Grace period: Period during which late rent will be accepted.
- Holdover: Staying in the apartment longer than your lease agreement.
- Intent to move out: Even if your lease is ending, you must let your landlord know in advance that you will be moving out. Check your lease for the required amount of time, which can range from 30 to 90 days.
- Lease term: How long you will be paying for and living in the apartment.
- Money order: A payment order for a specific amount of money.
- Month-to-month: A lease that is renewed on a monthly basis rather than for a set period of time. This type of arrangement usually includes a higher rent.
- Notice of termination: Letting the landlord know you intend to break your lease.
- Occupants: People who will reside in the dwelling legally. Check your contract for rules about long-term guests and the maximum number of occupants allowed.
- Pro-rated rent: Total monthly rent divided by a set number of days used when tenant does not stay a full month.
- Redemption: If your landlord takes your possessions because you didn’t pay rent, you can get them back once you pay all the money you owe.
- Re-letting fee: If you move out before your lease expires, you may have to pay a percent of your monthly rent in addition to other charges.
- Rent: Money you pay to live somewhere.
- Renter’s insurance: Insurance coverage that protects the tenant and owner from major financial loss in the case of a fire, flood or similar event. Many rental properties require a minimum amount of insurance be purchased before the start of the lease.
- Security deposit: Money you pay when you sign the lease that is returned after moveout if nothing in the residence needs repairs.
- Sub-letting: To rent a residence from someone who is renting it from someone else.
- Submetered utility: The total utility bill for the building is divided by the occupants.
- Utilities: Services provided such as gas, electricity, water or trash.
Source: “UTA’s attorney for students gives advice on understanding leases”,