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Common Lease Terms

office of residential life

Arrears — Overdue rent.

Assign — Transfer the unexpired portion of a lease.

Cause of Action — Specific situation that may become the basis for a lawsuit.

Civil — A non-criminal legal matter. Housing disputes are often settled in civil court.

Covenant — A promise.

Default — To forfeit or lose by omission to perform a legal obligation.

Demised Premises — The place being rented.

Destraint (preceded by distress) — The landlord takes your personal property to force you to pay or eventually sells it to get the money.

Enjoyment — Possession or occupancy of land.

Enure — To take effect.

Eviction — Depriving a person of occupancy. Constructive occupancy does not actually remove the tenant, but it makes it impossible for the tenant to remain because of conditions (i.e., serious deterioration).

Goods and Chattels — Personal property.

Holdover — Retaining possession of rented real estate after the lease term expires or the landlord demands possession because of an alleged branch of the terms in the lease by the tenant.

Indemnify and Hold Harmless — To free from any responsibility or liability.

Inure — To take effect.

Lease — A type of legal agreement establishing a landlord–tenant relationship.

Lessee — The tenant.

Lessor — The landlord.

Liability — Responsibility, loss, a negative element.

Notice to Vacate — Notification from the landlord to the tenant ordering the tenant of the property.

Parties to a Lease — Those who agree to abide by the provisions of a lease; usually, you as the tenant, any house mates as co-tenants, and the landlord.

Possession — Lawful occupation and use of land, subject to protection of "Quiet Enjoyment."

Sublet — Agreeing to permit someone else to use rented property for a period less than the lessee's term. The lessee will be paid by the sublettor.

Summary Proceeding — To recover possession; i.e., eviction.

Term of Lease — The length of time that a lease shall be in effect,

Thirty-Day Notice — On a month-to-month tenancy, this is the notice that either party must give the other to terminate the tenancy. The 30 days must include a full rental period,

Waiver — Relinquishment of a right; agreeing to give up something that you are entitled to.

Source: E.J. Goodman. The Tenant Survival Book. New York: New American Library, 1974.

Written Lease

Many landlords require tenants to sign a written lease. Remember that the lease is a contract which, once signed, legally binds both parties to the terms of the lease. Before signing the lease, read it and make sure that you understand everything. Leases are often written in confusing language. Have your landlord or an appropriate advisory agent (e.g., ODSD) explain everything that you do not understand.

Make sure that your lease protects your interests, not just the landlord's. Try to delete or modify clauses that are a disadvantage to you. Since many landlords now require student's parents to co-sign the lease, you should encourage your parents to thoroughly review the lease as well.