A lease is a legally binding agreement or contract between a property owner/manager, "lessor" and a tenant, "lessee". A lease can be either written or oral: once you pay rent and have been given keys to access the premises, you have a lease. Oral leases can be valid for up to three years in the state of Pennsylvania. An oral lease is easier to terminate, as the initial terms are hard to prove. Usually a 30-day notice in writing can terminate an oral lease, either by the landlord or by the tenant. Written leases are binding for the whole duration specified on the contract. Remember that a lease is a document originating with the landlord/management company/board of realtors and as such it tends to represent lessor's interests.
In preparing for the application process, remember that the landlord will run a credit check on you and that he may require proof of income. Certain buildings in Center City have very stringent income requirements and they may ask for a co-signer to the lease.
Keep in mind that this tight market is a landlord market and that the tenants may not be able to negotiate the lease. Once signed, the lease is a legally binding document and breaking the lease without financial loss is only possible if you or the landlord can secure another tenant for the apartment.
If a lease contains illegal clauses, they are not enforceable, unfair clauses, however, can be. Regardless of what the lease says, remember that the law requires that landlords provide a safe and healthy unit, in compliance with the requirements of the Housing Code.
Being an informed consumer and knowing what your rights are and the correct procedures when you encounter problems is very important for a pleasant off-campus living experience. You can always contact our office for more information or assistance.
Become an informed consumer and an educated tenant. Know both your rights and your responsibilities. Check our information on becoming a tenant, leases, security deposits, tenant's rights and responsibilities. Even if you are not able to do much negotiation at the beginning of the lease, you will still be protected by the landlord tenant law, by federal, state and local ordinances and the property maintenance code requirements valid in Philadelphia. If you have questions about your lease or about tenants' rights and responsibilities, contact our office for guidance.