Lease and Sublease Information
office of residential life
The Common Lease
In Boston, a minimum lease period of one year, from September 1 through August 31, is usually required. Particular attention should be paid to the conditions for renewing the lease, provisions for subletting the apartment, and the right to bring in additional roommates not originally on the lease. Be sure to receive a copy of the lease signed and dated by both the lessor (the owner) and the lessee (you, the tenant) within thirty days after you sign and return it to the lessor.
If painting or repairs are to be done by the lessor, state these in the lease under the section "Additional Provisions" or on a separate signed addendum attached to the lease.
When a tenant finds an apartment to rent, the rental agent or landlord may ask for a signed rental application and a deposit of one month's rent. A rental application is an offer by the tenant to rent the apartment; if it is accepted by the landlord, the tenant is bound to sign the lease. If the tenant fails to take the apartment after being accepted, the deposit may be forfeited.
Prepayments, or money to which the landlord is entitled in advance of occupancy, are limited by law to first and last month's rent, a security deposit, and a charge for purchase and installation of a lock and key. The amount of the security deposit and/or the last month's rent cannot be greater than the first month's rent. Traditionally in Boston, rental agents charge one full month's rent commission fee or "Finder's Fee." This fee is collected after all rental arrangements have been finalized. It is wise to negotiate and compare fees with the various agents.
It is often required that a student's parents co-sign the lease. It is recommended that all persons occupying the apartment sign the lease before they move in. If a tenant is allowed to move in without signing the lease, that tenant is not legally liable and can move out at any time.
If you plan to keep your apartment for a second year, it is wise to notify the landlord at least two months before the lease expires. The full security deposit plus the current interest rate is returned if you decided to leave after a 12-month tenancy and the apartment is damage-free. The current interest rate must also be paid on the last month's rent when paid in advance. This does not have to be on account for twelve months like the security deposit.