WHY DO I NEED A LEASE?
Whether you are the tenant or the landlord, if you are renting a unit, commercial or residential, you are strongly advised to have a lease. A lease is nothing more than a contract between the landlord and the tenant. It sets forth at least the basic terms of your agreement including the rental amount, security deposit, rental term (weekly, monthly, annually, etc.), the premises (the specified property being rented), what’s included in the rental (i.e. washer, dryer, stove, water, sewer usage, electric, etc.) and who is allowed to occupy the premises. Many times the lease will also state rules that apply to the premises such as use of areas in common with others, whether or not pets are allowed, storage areas, trash disposal, parking, etc. It can set forth both the landlord’s and tenant’s obligations under the lease beyond the basics like who is responsible for snow removal, sidewalk or yard maintenance. A lease will also define what happens upon a default and if litigation ensues including who is responsible for attorney’s fees, interest and court costs (note: without a lease, you cannot collect attorney’s fees, interest and some court costs). It can provide for rental increases, term extensions and remedies in the event of a default including holding over beyond the end date of the lease.
The bottom line is that a lease sets forth the terms and conditions of the rental agreement between the landlord and tenant which can solve or provide guidance in solving many problems that can arise in a landlord/tenant relationship.