An apartment can be simply a place to sleep or it can be a home in which to raise a family and demonstrate hospitality. Whether a seeker has one of those aims or is anywhere on the spectrum in between, he or she should be sober and clear-eyed before signing a lease. After all, a lease is a legally binding contract and it is important for both tenant and landlord to know what they are bound to. While lease agreements will differ one from another, there are certain assumptions built into them that are common in the state of Maryland.
#1: Good Credit Builds Trust
Most often–before a lease is even offered–the property owner will run a credit check on the prospective renter. A credit report demonstrates an applicant’s ability or willingness to pay bills on time. Since most rents are collected monthly, the lessor wants to know how dependable the lessee will be. A record of late payments and charge offs will likely give the owner pause. Many properties in the state have exacting rules about credit scores, and will only rent out units to those with excellent numbers. Others understand that FICO scores do not always tell the whole story. They might make allowances if the circumstances are explained in a compelling way. Alternatively, they may offer a lease on the condition of a higher security deposit.
#2: A Lease Is Not Fixed, but Adjustable
As many home buyers are tempted by lower initial interest rates of adjustable rate mortgages, so too are apartment searchers lured by low monthly advertised rents. Unless the renter is in it for the short term, a hike in payments should be expected after the lease expires. Important to remember is the fact that apartment revenues are the proprietor’s livelihood. As taxes, landscape fees, maintenance charges and/or vacancies rise, the monthly remission from tenant to landlord will likely follow suit. Those looking for a Maryland landlord lawyer do so to make sure any such increases conform to the contractual agreement with the occupant, as well as state and federal law. The Maryland attorney general’s office is responsible for enforcing standards for apartment dwellings. Also, this agency regulates fees, terms and eviction procedures relative to apartment leases.
#3: Landlords Are Not Responsible for Personal Property
Unless personal possessions are damaged or destroyed by building personnel, the resident is responsible for repair and replacement. Burglaries, fires, floods and earthquakes can take a devastating toll on furnishings, assets and other individual belongings. While the owner may be insured for damages, the dweller does not derive benefit from that. For this reason, renters insurance is now a widely available way to get indemnification in the event of one of these misfortunes. Among other things, renters insurance can compensate for:
- Electrical appliances
- Bed linens
In addition, insurance can pay for temporary quarters in the event that a damaged apartment is uninhabitable. This type of coverage comes with a price, of course, and costs differ depending on tenant history and the scope of the product. Here is the challenge: the lease may actually require a lessee to purchase renters coverage, even naming the lessor as an additional insured party. While an additional expense for a prospective resident, a clause of this nature protects the property owner from potential litigation in the event of a disaster.