The power of lease paperwork

by Tom Simplot

Sep 5, 2014

We all know how much paperwork it takes to buy anything nowadays, from cars to houses — and even TVs. But does it really take all that paperwork to rent an apartment? The short answer is: yes.

Thirty years ago the terms of a lease agreement would include the amount of rent, the beginning and end of the lease term and what utilities would be included. Since then, we now have a number of federal and state laws that require notice about such things as lead-based paint and Fair Housing, plus addendums about crime-free housing requirements, medical marijuana and how to deal with bed bugs.

Why all the fuss?

Because both residents and management companies/owners need to be made aware of their responsibilities. And when you choose your apartment, you are expected to read and understand the lease and addendums placed before you. As a rule of law, the courts will generally presume you understand the terms since you signed the agreement.

Although each owner/management company is free to use their own preferred lease form, many of these are available for review online or at a local business-supply store. I encourage you to review some basic terms before you go apartment hunting, including:

• Rental Agreement and Application for Residency.

• Community Policies.

• Medical Marijuana Lease Addendum.

• Joint Occupancy Agreement.

• Acceptance of Partial Payment.

• Pet Residency Agreement.

• Move In/Move Out Inspection.

• Crime Free Addendum.

Renting an apartment requires a number of legal forms and paperwork, and these are intended to protect you and your community. Educate yourself about what forms should be completed and be proactive in asking for the protections they provide.