Getting a residential or commercial lease might be common now., but there are still a lot of aspects we might not know about them. If your lease for any rental property, like an apartment, has enough value, a legal review is in order.
Yes, your broker or their firm might be on hand, but it is important to get a review of your own.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer to Review Your Residential Lease?
This is not to say that you shouldn’t trust your broker or real estate agent, but they can’t fulfill all your legal needs. A broker cannot take the place of an attorney, especially one who is experienced in property issues.
Should I Have a Lawyer Review My Apartment Lease?
The short answer to this question is: you probably should. A real estate attorney is useful for both commercial leases and residential leases. They might even be available for a free consultation, after which they will review your residential lease agreement.
Here are some solid reasons to have an attorney review your lease when becoming a residential tenant:
1. Making Sure of an Accurate Lease
A lease for commercial real estate could be a large document with loads of information. A residential lease will probably be much simpler, but it might still have a lot of problematic ideas hidden inside all that jargon.
Overall, an attorney will be much more likely to catch possible issues in the lease agreement. They’ll also be able to guide you about your rights.
For instance, a landlord has to give proper notice to a tenant before incurring fees or increasing rent. This should give the tenant time to check out a new apartment before their lease expires.
An attorney is also useful for making tenants aware of the laws regarding renters in your area. Some states’ laws are better for renters than others, so you have to check according to where you plan to live.
What Should Residential Lease Agreements Contain?
Unlike commercial leases, a residential lease gives tenants the assurance that the property has habitable conditions and that the landlord won’t interfere with the basic rights of the tenant living there. These terms might be subject to necessity, so having an attorney to review it is the best way for making them benefit the tenant as well.
A lawyer who is well-versed in real estate will also ensure that you won’t be signing a residential lease containing unfair terms. They’ll ensure that the lease isn’t a fraudulent or forged document, too. Plus, in the case of a future dispute or other issue over any clauses, your lawyer will be better able to represent you in court.
2. Catching Out Bias
There are certain times or chances when a landlord can increase your rent. Your lease agreement should not be making you pay rent at higher rates than is reasonable.
Most lease agreements are in favor of the landlord anyway. With a real estate attorney by your side, you can better understand many of the conditions in the lease.
With their law school and specialized knowledge, your attorney may also help you in negotiating certain clauses. You might even be able to avoid late fees and easily get your security deposit back when it’s time to move on.
3. Getting the Best Terms Possible
Lawyers are known for their negotiating skills. So, your attorney should be able to get some better terms for your lease agreement.
For instance, you might want to ensure that the commercial real estate next door doesn’t go to your direct competition. You may also want assurance that the security deposit for the apartment is refundable. While it usually is, you don’t want to sign a lease agreement that cancels out that seemingly obvious term.
4. Double-Checking Every Term
Even if you’ve been to law school yourself, the terms and clauses for real estate might not be perfectly clear.
An attorney who actually deals with landlord-tenant cases is used to checking and double-checking various lease agreements. They know what to look for, what should be there, and what could be problematic in the future.
5. Determining the Length of a Lease
A residential agreement is a legal contract between the landlord and tenant. Lease agreements like these are applicable when you rent a place for living purposes.
Along with the other terms and conditions, one important term to decide upon is the length of the lease.
How Long Does a Lease Run?
You need to know the length of your residential lease. This depends on the terms that both parties agree upon before signing, as well as the laws in their jurisdiction. The residential lease type that was the basis of this agreement is also a major factor influencing the lease length.
Most apartment lease agreements say that the lease will run for at least 12 months or a whole year. Still, the exact length of time can be flexible according to what residential tenants and landlords agree upon.
If your lease term is for a year or longer, that’s quite a major commitment. With an attorney on your side, the other party knows that you’re serious and will not overreach the terms without a serious reason.
6. Understanding Landlord Duties
While most lease agreements do benefit the landlord more, a real estate attorney knows the benefits you are entitled to.
The basic duties of a landlord include:
- Not breaching the lease
- Keeping every unit in a habitable, livable condition
- Respecting tenants’ privacy, with a few very limited exceptions
- Return all security deposits in a fixed amount of time (the lease should specify this) after the lease ends
If the landlord doesn’t fulfill one or more of these duties, your lawyer will be able to take them up on it. Many times, though, just the presence or inclusion of an attorney will be enough to deter landlords from taking advantage of their residential tenants.
How Do You Find the Best Attorney for Renting Apartments?
If you’ve made the decision to rent an apartment and get a lawyer to review your lease, it’s time to get active.
It’s rare to find a credible real estate lawyer without proper research. Simply looking them up in a phone book or going through advertisements wouldn’t give you a lot of effort.
Instead, try asking people you know who have rented apartments and signed leases. It’s best if they live in or near the area where you plan to rent your apartment. Those who have gone through the experience of having an attorney review their lease will be able to guide you in the most useful manner.
Also, keep in mind that most attorneys may not know much about real estate, especially when it comes to dealings between tenants and landlords. Some may only specialize in commercial real estate issues, since these are often worth more for each party. Others may only be able to help you figure out which month is best for apartment searching.
This is why you need to get an attorney who knows about residential lease negotiations and how to handle them well.
Before signing a lease for any apartment, seeking legal advice from an attorney is a logical step. You can approach several experts who will happily review your apartment lease.
Residential lease agreements might be confusing for a new tenant, so an attorney is the best choice for your legal concerns. While looking for an attorney, you should also check out the other things first-time apartment renters should know.