Before You Sign a Lease

Lease Terms that are Okay to Accept

There are certain things (depending on your personal needs) that are often okay to accept, so long as they are applied to all applicants, so as not to discriminate. However, you can decide to walk away at any time. This section will merely serve as a basic guide to reasonable expectations of landlords around the country.

It’s Okay for a Landlord to Require the Following:

  • Method of Payment

A landlord has the right to accept only certain forms of payment. Surprisingly, while most will accept personal checks and money orders, many will not accept cash.

  • Lawn Maintenance

This usually applies to those renting a detached single-family residence (e.g., house). It’s actually a toss up: some will ask you to mow the lawn, while others will prefer to have their same service provider continue to ensure it’s kept up.

  • Number of Occupants

It’s reasonable for a landlord to limit the number of occupants they are housing in any given unit.

  • Rent Due Date

Unless you have specific needs to accommodate your pay schedule, it’s the landlord’s right to say when the rent is due. After all, they may have a mortgage to pay.

  • Pet Policy

Landlords are not required to accept pets and if they choose to, they may establish pet type size and breed guidelines, so long as they are consistently upheld (equally) for all tenants.

  • Cleaning Fee

Landlords will often disclose that a cleaning fee may be required upon moving out. This is okay, because the fee is normally imposed only if you didn’t bother to clean the unit upon moving out of it.

  • Utilities

It is generally expected that you will be required to pay for all utilities – including natural gas, electric, telephone, cable TV and water. So if the landlord decides to include any of these into your rent, it’s a good thing (unless your rent is adjusted by a stiff premium for the apparent generosity).