TAO Self-help

Title:Read the lease before signing

Author:Cindy Middleton

Date:September 2012

Source:17th Training Wing Legal Office

9/13/2010 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) — Many people have problems with their landlord after renting or leasing a house or apartment, but reading and having a clear understanding of the agreement before signing it can help renters and lessees avoid several of these difficulties.

Before signing the lease and moving in, read every paragraph on the agreement carefully. Be sure to understand it, talk with the landlord to clarify any questionable language.

Request a written inspection of the premises prior to moving in. Any discrepancies with the pre-inspection should be listed in detail, in writing.

Renters or lessees should treat the home as if it were their own, because they are responsible for any damages beyond normal wear and tear. They should also live up to their legal responsibilities in the lease, which includes rent payment and appropriate conduct.

Upon moving out, get a detailed, written move-out inspection within three business days. Any inspection discrepancies should be listed in writing.

A landlord typically has one month to return a security deposit. If the landlord holds the deposit illegally, the renter or lessee may be entitled to damages and attorney fees.

Remember, every state has its own landlord and tenant laws, so what was experienced at a previous duty location may not be the same in a new location.

Individuals who need legal assistance or have questions can call their base legal office to schedule an appointment with an attorney, who can explain any lease terms and advice renters or lessees of possible unfavorable provisions in a lease.

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