Five Things Your Rental Lease Shouldn't Include

Posted on: 4 August 2017

A typical rental lease contains numerous clauses touching on many different issues, some of which aren't necessarily beneficial. That is one reason you shouldn't sign a rental lease without close scrutiny. Here are five examples of restrictive clauses that shouldn't be included in your lease:

You have to share your utility meters

Shared utility meters are dangerous because they inevitably bring controversies between tenants. Even if you have roughly similar houses, it's unlikely that you will be using equal amounts of water or energy every month. Sharing utility meters complicates the situation because the there is no way of telling exactly how much each of you uses every month. Therefore, make sure you have your separate utility meter with your own name.

An automatic rent increase

Some landlords try to sneak in provisions that allow them to increase rent automatically at regular intervals. They reason that they must have such provisions because of inflation or because items' prices or service charges are always on the upward trend. However, there are also landlords who don't include such provisions; don't sign a lease with automatic rent increases.

A "Hold Harmless" Clause

Hold harmless clauses absolve a landlord from future negligence. Signing a lease with a hold harmless clause, for example, may prevent you from holding the landlord responsible for your damages if the deck collapses on you. Such a clause is dangerous because you don't know what the future.

The Landlord has Unrestricted Entry

A landlord shouldn't have the right to enter your home anytime they want and as many times as they wish; this is why there are privacy laws. Most states recognize this fact and have laws that control how landlords can enter their rental premises. Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent some landlords from trying to sneak in unrestricted access in your rental lease. Scrutinize your lease agreement to confirm that it doesn't have such a clause.

The Lease Allows For Future Landlord Rules

Every rule governing your stay and use of the property should be clear to you from the beginning. You shouldn't get three months into your lease only to have the landlord come up with a new rule that you can't operate with.

You don't have to agree to anything your landlord includes in your lease agreement. Scrutinize the lease and negotiate on the contentious clauses. Consult a real estate agent and an attorney to help you analyze the lease and ensure it isn't lopsided for the landlord's benefit.