FAQ: Aren't all leases "standard?

Authored By: Georgia Legal Services Program® LSC Funded

FAQ: Aren't all leases "standard?

Aren't all leases "standard?” What difference does it make whether the tenant reads the lease before signing it?

Although many leases are similar, there is no such thing as a "standard" lease provided or
approved by any government agency or court. Lease agreements differ from landlord to
landlord. Therefore, it is very important to read the lease carefully before signing it. The lease is a legal document which defines the relationship between the landlord and the tenant. If there are provisions in the lease which you do not understand, get help. Ask someone you trust to explain what the language means. Be careful of leases which contain the following:

* An extremely long lease term with penalties for early termination;

* Automatic rent increases during the lease term;

* References to rules which are not provided to you;

* Any attempt by the landlord to make you responsible for repairs;

* Language which provides that the tenant pays the landlord for utilities
rather than being billed by the utility provider;

* Provisions which require the tenant to pay the landlord's attorney fees if a
landlord hires an attorney to enforce the lease, unless the provision also
makes the landlord responsible for the tenant's attorney's fees; and

* Lease terms which state that the landlord can evict you without going into
court and using the dispossessory process.

Before the lease is signed, a tenant may request changes to the lease. Some landlords will agree to the changes, others will not. If signed, both the landlord and tenant will be required to comply with the lease terms.

Last Review and Update: Jul 21, 2011