Leasing a Home

Maybe you're not ready to buy a home now, or just don't have the financing in place to do so.  In this case you might consider renting or leasing.  Many people use these terms interchangeably, but normally a lease is considered a long-term contract of 6 months or more.   The lease agreement does not change during the time specified on the document, whereas a rental agreement is month-to-month, and the landlords can raise the rent fee as long as they give proper legal notice.  Leasing may also provide greater freedom regarding what a person can do with the property.  Leasing might allow for changes to the landscape or repainting.  However, because rules may vary, it is always important to review the terms of the lease or rental agreement carefully.

The lease agreement is binding for the time specified, in order to legally protect both parties.  As such, the rules should be well spelled out.  Keep in mind that every state and city has their own individual set of requirements.

Here are some rental resources that may help: www.tenantsunion.org, www.washingtonlawhelp.orgrentlaw.com .

Length of Occupancy

Lease should specify the exact time, usually 6 months or a year.  Leases are not automatically renewed;  the landlord should give notice of the lease ending and any changes to be made to the new lease.  Can the landlord or tenant break the lease?  Possible if there is a breach of terms or laws.  In the lease there should be terms specified if the tenant needs to break the lease for good reasons, such as military leave, or moving to another area, health issues etc.

Who can Occupy

The legal signers and under-aged dependents of the lease are normally the only ones allowed to live in the property, unless there are terms for sub-leasing.    Violating these terms allows the landlord to break the lease agreement.

Rights of Access and Privacy

Washington state requires 2 days written notice for a  landlord to enter the property.  In case of an emergency they can enter at any time.  If the landlord feels the home has been abandoned they can enter the unit.


Review lease to see if your landlord allows pets and if they do find out the details about deposits.  Some places only allow certain pets and some pets may require deposits while others do not.


If the landlord says they pay utilities then make sure it is written in the lease.  If they do not pay for utilities then it will be up to the tenants responsibility to contact the utility companies and pay the bill each month.

Payments and Late Fees

The lease should spell out the amount to be paid, types of payments, where to send the payment, rent is due date and late fees.

Deposit and Other Fees

If a deposit is required the lease should list how much is needed, what the deposit covers and when it needs to be paid.  Deposits are not for normal wear and tear.  Many places have a property condition check list which the tenant must complete prior to moving in.  Of course to get the deposit back one should leave the property in the same condition as when they moved in.  It might be a good idea to take a picture of the place before you move in, especially if there are any stains, rips or damaged areas.  Any problems the tenant finds should be reported to the landlord in writing.

Some places might charge screening fees, security deposit, damage deposit, cleaning fee, last months rent paid in advance, an application or holding fee.

Maintenance and Repairs

The rights of the tenant include living in a habitable conditions. Responsibility leis with both the tenant n and the landlord.  The landlords main responsibility is to keep the property in compliance with state and local laws.  They are to maintain the property structure, common areas, appliances etc.  The tenants responsibilities include, paying rent, not causing damage, not doing anything illegal, keeping the unit clean, tell landlord of any problems such as insect infestations, water leaks, electrical problems and maintain smoke detectors.

The most important thing is to actually read the lease agreement and clarify with the landlord any questions that arise.  To find homes to rent and lease visit SJC Management Group in Sumner, WA.