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What Is An Apartment Lease?

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

If you are renting an apartment for the first time or perhaps you’ve made the decision to move to another state, you will be presented with an apartment lease when you secure your new space. Most lease agreements are straight forward while others include hidden clauses and complex terms. While a stressful part of your rental journey, it is a necessary one. Lease conditions can differ between states, in terms of their limitations and according to the type of apartment. Before you sign a lease agreement, we look at the best ways to protect yourself and to ensure the apartment lease you sign is fair, valuable, and makes your rental hassle-free.


1. Should I Settle an Old Apartment Debt?

2. Can I Change My Mind on a Lease?

lease signing
Lease Signing

Other topics you might like:

  1. Why Live in An Apartment Complex

  2. Renters Insurance & You

  3. How to Rent an Apartment


The Apartment Lease Defined

The lease is a signed contract between the renter and the landlord. It represents the terms and conditions of the agreement including a list of maintenance measures and services to be delivered for the duration of the tenancy. The lease will include the monthly rent, the length of the contract, and the date for scheduled payment.

What Does It Mean to Lease an Apartment?

The lease is a legal document between the landlord and the lessee or tenant. It will breakdown the terms of the rental including the deposit. Leases cover an average 12 months, but can be longer, and includes a monthly agreement.

Apartment Complex Bird-View
Apartment Complex Bird-View

What is the Difference Between Leasing and Renting an Apartment?

The major difference between leasing and renting an apartment is the duration. A lease can be issued for 12 months compared to a rental agreement that is valid for 30 days. For the duration of your lease or rental, your landlord cannot increase the rent unless there is a mutual agreement to do so.

Remember, you cannot simply withhold rent or dishonor the lease if you are unsatisfied with a service or your landlord has failed to provide maintenance. Follow the necessary legal procedure if your landlord or property manager is not fulfilling their side of the lease.


1. What is included in a lease?

2. What is a month to month lease?

How Long is a Typical Apartment Lease?

The lease is typically signed for a 12-month term; however, it is a flexible contract and can cover an agreed-upon time period provided there is a mutual agreement. In negotiations with a landlord or property manager, a lease can include a 6-month term. Most landlords agree to a 6-month lease to determine the suitability of tenants before extending it for the remainder of the year.

To determine which agreement is best for your needs, discuss your options with your landlord or property manager, and determine the duration of your stay.

City Skyline
City Skyline

Can I Change My Mind on a Lease?

A lease generally covers a year. It is a contract that binds you to the terms, which means you are required to live in the apartment for that time. Should circumstances change and you have to move, you will still have to abide by the lease terms. In many instances, you may be required to cover the remainder of the rent. If you have 4 months on your lease at $500 per month, then your outstanding fee is $2000.

It is important to read your lease prior to signing. Here you should find the clause with the amount owed, should you break the lease. Depending on the landlord, a security deposit is also withheld if you break your lease.

No one can predict the future. The best way to protect yourself is to read, read, and read your lease again! Understand the terms even in the unlikely event you have to break the contract. This way you are prepared for the financial and legal implications.

How Much Does It Usually Cost to Break a Lease on an Apartment?

Depending on the terms of your lease, tenants can settle an early termination fee, when breaking the agreement. This fee is predetermined by the landlord. The average cost for breaking a lease is usually the first two months of rent.

Can I Rent an Apartment with a Broken Lease?

If you are considering breaking a lease, consider the consequences of this decision. When you terminate your end of the contract, this will negatively impact your rating as a tenant. It goes on record and may not be viewed as favorably by another landlord when you next apply for a rental property.

If you wish to hide your tenant rating, this is not a possibility when breaking the lease is reported to the Tenant Rating Bureau.

We do not advise breaking a lease and not paying the fee that is due. Not only can this result in legal matters but rental companies and landlords are less likely to offer a lease in the future.

Camera Inside Parts
Camera Inside Parts


1.Does a Lease include Maintenance?

2.What is the difference between renting and leasing an apartment?

What is Included in a Lease?

To prepare for your lease and to ensure you are aware of the points that need to be covered, a look at the terms within the agreement can help you familiarize yourself with it.

1. Names of All Tenants

Check that your name is correctly spelled to avoid future problems.

2. Limits on Occupancy

A breakdown of the number of tenants who can reside at the apartment for the duration of the lease.

3. Term of the Tenancy

The agreed-upon period of tenancy including 6-month or 12-month lease.

4. Rent

The sum agreed upon for monthly rent.

5. Deposits and Fees

The stipulated security deposit, lease cancelation fees, and related costs are presented.

6. Repairs and Maintenance

The responsibilities of landlords and tenants are discussed here.

7. Entry to Rental Property

Entry rights.

8. Restrictions on Tenant Illegal Activity

Right to eviction based on tenant illegal activity.

9. Pets

Regulations concerning keeping pets on the property.

10. Other Restrictions

Restrictions as listed by the landlord.


1.How to Move Out?

2.What is a Security Deposit?

What is a Month to Month in a Lease?

Month to month leases are suited to flexible occupants who cannot commit to a long term lease. These short term leases can be terminated by the landlord or the tenant with prior notice, which avoids the issue of a penalty. Monthly leases are also easier to manage because it is self-renewing. The lease will run from one month to the next unless otherwise indicated by the landlord or the tenant. While these types of leases offer a multitude of benefits, you can expect a higher rental compared to a fixed lease term.

What is a Sublease?

Subleasing is when the leaseholder decides to rent the apartment to another person who is not on the signed lease agreement. There are many reasons for subleasing. If a lessee needs to travel or wants to prevent the consequences of breaking an agreement, then a sublease is pursued. This does not mean that every rental allows subleasing. It is a condition that should be discussed with the landlord or property agency. You can also learn whether subleasing is included in your contract prior to signing. If you have a job where you constantly travel for months at a time, consider subleasing in your contract.

A sublease does not mean that you are exempt from your tenancy obligations. If you do not receive the rent from the sublease, you are responsible for making the payment. It is not the responsibility of the landlord to pursue the sublessee for outstanding payment. The option of subletting can work for some and not for others. Take the time to learn of the pros and cons and whether a subleased contract is a suitable choice.

Broken Glass
Broken Glass

How Do Apartments Check for Broken Leases?

There may be a situation that is out of your control and a change in your living situation becomes your reality. You may be in the position of breaking the lease on your apartment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, breaking a lease has become a reality for many, and owing to the difficult circumstances, breaking a lease during this period will not be issued to your credit report. Your credit will only be affected if any remaining debts with your landlord have not been settled.

When a lease is broken, it is typically recorded in a report with the Tenancy Bureau.


1.The Apartment Lease Defined

2. How Long is a typical lease?

Should I Settle an Old Apartment Debt?

It is important to settle all outstanding debts prior to applying for a new lease agreement. Remember, any debt that hasn’t been paid to a previous landlord will appear on your credit report. You can easily settle your rental debts and know that it will not have a negative impact on your FICO score. Simply obtain the updated payment details for the debt and make the payment. While this will not change your FICO score, it will certainly appear more favorable to future landlords and property managers/agencies.

What is the Purpose of a Lease?

The purpose of a lease is to provide legal protection for the landlord and the tenant. It is a binding agreement in which the terms for t