Keep your lease agreement in mind before hanging up that family photo; you may be violating your lease without knowing it.
When you sign your lease agreement to live in a house, condo or apartment for rent, chances are you just skimmed to the part that notes how much rent is and how long your lease will last. Big mistake. There are a lot more things that the lease discusses that you need to follow; it is, after all, a legal document that contains a lot of do’s and don’ts.
If you don’t read and understand your lease carefully, you will be at risk of unknowingly violating your lease. The smallest concern can get you into trouble with your landlord, so before you utter the following sentences, have a second look at your lease.
“This framed photo of us will be perfect in the living room.”
Any tenant would love to make their rental feel more like home. Unfortunately, if the lease has rules against any and all home improvement efforts, something as tiny as pounding a nail in the wall to hang a picture will be considered a violation. Even if the lease allows some changes, make sure that you inform your landlord beforehand; you and he may have different opinions about what is considered a minor or major improvement.
“Sure, you can stay for a while until you find a new place to live.”
It’s not that you’re not allowed to have overnight guests, but a guest can only stay for so long before he’s considered a tenant, which is a big violation of your lease. It may not be a hassle for you to let a couple of your friends stay in your one-bedroom condo for rent, but the landlord will have a problem with this for a lot of reasons. The biggest issue for them is that they might find it difficult to ask unauthorized tenants to pay for rent since their name’s not on the lease.
“She told me she paid her half of the rent.”
Just because your roommate or housemate gave you her word doesn’t mean that she’ll come through. Because the two of you are jointly responsible for paying the rent, the landlord can hold you accountable for her failure to come up with her share. Before she takes that month-long trip to the U.S., ask her for her share of the rent or for proof that she has given her share directly to the landlord ahead of time.
“Come on over; I can babysit your cat for a few hours.”
You don’t have a pet, so you have no problem with the landlord’s ‘no pets’ policy. Still, you have to warn family and friends against bringing their pets over even for a short time; a short visit from a friend with a puppy in tow is still a lease violation.
Depending on the severity of the violation (and how forgiving your landlord is), you can be evicted from your rental house, apartment or condo for violating anything on the lease even if you don’t know it, so be sure to read it carefully.
Jillian Cariola, Writer
(cover image by Ivan Melenchon Serrano)