Ever Wonder What All the Legalese in a Lease Agreement Means?

By | October 21, 2011

You tell yourself that “this time, I’ll make sure to read the full lease agreement.” After all, no one likes being blind-sided by a landlord who has an eye for fine print and legalese. You’re determined that everything you sign will be something you fully understand.

Good for you, of course. But there’s just one problem: the lease agreement’s in so much legalese that even if you wanted to understand all of it, you simply can’t. You look it over and give up, not content to keep wrestling with phrases and key words you don’t get.

How can you make sense of all the legalese in a lease agreement? Well, you’ve come to the right place if you’re looking for an answer. Let’s take a look at legalese you might typically see in these types of contracts and we promise you’ll be reading the entire documents in no time!

Legalese: “No Waiver.” What does it mean when the contract reads “no waiver”? You’ll typically see this section pasted in next to about a dozen other sections with similar length, and with only a paragraph following the phrase, it can be hard to make sense of the thing. So here’s a brief explanation: the “No waiver” paragraph typically refers to the instances that don’t invalidate the rental agreement.

For example, if a landlord agrees that you don’t have to pay a certain month’s rent on time, that doesn’t mean they can’t expect that you’ll pay future rent payments on time. In essence, it’s saying that a contract is not cancelled simply because one of you didn’t live up to one part of it. This is important to remember, and a good reason you should always pay rent on time.

Legalese: “Right of Entry.” It doesn’t sound like a pleasant idea: your landlord entering the premises at any time. Well, if you keep reading the language after this phrase, you’ll find out the landlord actually can’t enter the apartment or home at any time – they often will write that they have to give you advanced notice of the entry. For this reason, anyone who signs a rental agreement with this kind of “right of entry” stipulation has the right to be notified of any entry by a landlord. Pay close attention to this section: each landlord can have a different right of entry notice.

Legalese: Premises condition. You’ll notice that a section about the “premises” itself will talk about the condition and general care with which it’s been maintained – and you might not be able to make sense of this paragraph. So what does it mean? Well, assuming your landlord is a reasonable person, a well-maintained apartment or home is simply one that has no destruction on it that has to be paid with money out of your security deposit. In most cases, landlords don’t care about issues with the apartment that don’t cost money to fix; but if something needs to be fixed, you can usually expect it will come out of your security deposit and, therefore, your pocket.

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