Top Ten Things to Look For in a Lease

  1. Distinct term: does the lease clearly spell out when the rental period begins, when it ends and whether any renewal options are available?
  2. Distinct description of property: Is the property to be leased clearly described either through a physical address or through a legal description, such as would be found on a deed?
  3. Distinct description of rent payments: Is the amount of the rent clearly noted along with when the rent is due, where payable, and what are any penalties for late payment?
  4. Permitted uses (primarily commercial): Does the lease state what is and isn’t permitted on the property being leased? This particularly applies to a commercial property, but can also apply to a residential property.  Landlord’s don’t want tenants performing activities that are either illegal or prohibited within the zoning of the property.
  5. What constitutes a default and an opportunity to cure (fix the problem): What specific violations are a breach of the lease? How long does the breaching party have to “cure” or fix the violation? What happens if the breaching party doesn’t cure?
  6. Is an assignment or subletting permitted: This, as most provisions are, is a case-by-case determination and depends on the needs and wants of the landlord and the tenant.  However, this still needs to be clearly spelled out in the lease.
  7. Improvements and who owns any improvements made: Is the tenant allowed to make any improvements to the property?  What notification and/or approval is required by the landlord for the improvements? Who owns the improvements after they are made? Are there any conditions on the ownership, such as whether or not the improvements can be removed without damaging the leased property?
  8. Insurance: What insurance is required to be taken out by landlord and tenant? Is the other party to be a “named insured” on any insurance policy? This will differ greatly between commercial and residential leases.
  9. Liability and indemnification: Who is liable for what actions? Does liability include only intentional acts or also negligence? If the other party is sued, does the party that committed the act have to pay for the damaged party’s defense (indemnification)?
  10. Choice of law and choice of venue: Which state’s law governs any disputes? Do any lawsuits due to disputes over the lease have to be brought in a particular jurisdiction?

Although this list is by no means all-inclusive, unlike that resort vacation, it is intended to give you as a landlord or a tenant some things to think about when negotiating a lease.  Above all else, have the lease reviewed by an attorney.  It is much easier and less expensive to pay an attorney to review and negotiate terms in the lease that will try to protect you in the future than to pay an attorney to try to fix a problem that arises later.  “Pay me a little now, or pay me a lot later!”

This is not intended to be and should not be construed as legal advice.  For more information, please contact us.

Copyright 2011: The Klinkenberg Law Firm, LLC, all rights reserved.


About kcrealestatelaw

Licensed attorney in Missouri and Kansas practicing as a real estate lawyer, as well as business, tax, nonprofit, minor traffic law, and preparation of powers of attorney, contracts and agreements.

Posted on October 25, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. This is the perfect checklist for any renter looking for a new place, thank you for sharing.

  2. Great advice thanks for the post. It is easy to get excited about getting a new place and not pay enough attention to details.

  3. I think I will save this blog for future use when shopping around for rental properties! Very handy and detailed, thank you for sharing!

  4. I’ll be sharing this list with my clients. Thank you so much for posting!

  5. These are some wonderful tips on how to avoid being taken advantage of when signing a first lease. Thank you for sharing.

  6. These are some very good tips in terms of lease information to look for.

  7. That is a great list of things to look for in a lease. It can be easy to get excited about getting a new place and not spend enough time looking through the lease thoroughly.

  8. This is great information to use when looking into renting. It’s important to gather all pertinent information when considering a rental agreement, and this article outlines it well.

  9. I think the biggest thing to highlight here is that, if you’re at all concerned that your lease isn’t all encompassing you should have an attorney look the lease over. Err on the side of caution in instances where you’re unsure with legal matters.

  10. This is certainly some sound information in terms of rentals. Thank you for sharing.

  11. You have really put together a great list. I wish I had looked at a list like this before my first lease.

  12. Any new renter needs to read this post! You really have to watch your back when it comes to renting to make sure you are not getting in over your head.

  13. Great information for new renters who are unfamiliar with the industry, thanks for posting!

  14. This sounds like a lot of information I never even considered when I was in college. I sublet an apartment, but never checked to see if it was allowed. Looking at your list, I’m surprised my landlord and myself didn’t have any issues!

  15. It’s important to look your lease over completely and to ensure that no questionable clauses have been included. Once you sign you’ve agreed to the terms within.

  16. This is great information for college leasers who have no idea of terminology or may not even read a lease agreement. Thanks for sharing!

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