Even when you read a lease carefully, there may be terms you do not understand. Do not skip over what is unclear to you, thinking it unimportant. You may be agreeing to provisions you wish you hadn’t. Ask before signing anything. The Off-Campus Housing Office, a legal aid office, or any number of private attorneys in Altoona can assist you in lease interpretations. Following are a few terms to help you read a lease or contract:
Aforesaid: Mentioned previously.
Arrears: Overdue rent.
Cause of action: A specific situation that may become the basis for a lawsuit.
Civil: A non-criminal legal matter. Housing disputes are generally handled in civil courts.
Covenant: Binding agreement, promise.
Independent covenant: You must perform your obligation even if the other party does not.
Dependent covenant: You carry out your obligations on the condition that the other party fulfills his/her obligations.
Default: To forfeit or lose by omission; to fail to perform a legal obligation.
Demise: To transfer by lease.
Demised premises: The place being rented.
Detainer: Withholding another’s property against his/her will.
Dispossess: Remove a person from land; the legal action brought for nonpayment of rent; eviction.
Distraint: Seizure of your property to collect a debt.
Ejectment: Physical or legal eviction from land.
Emmure: To take effect.
Enjoyment: Possession or occupation of land.
Quiet enjoyment: Freedom from invasion of privacy by landlord.
Eviction: Depriving a person of possession of occupancy.
Constructive eviction: Not actually removing the tenant, but making it impossible for him/her to remain because of the conditions, e.g., serious deterioration.
Guarantor: One who guarantees to take legal responsibility for another, such as your parents, if you are a minor (providing they sign for you.)
Goods and chattels: Personal property.
Hereinafter: In the part after this part (of the lease).
Hereinbefore: In the part before this part (of the lease).
Hereunto: To this, hereto.
Holdover: Retaining possession of rented real estate after the lease term expires, or the landlord demands possession or because of an alleged breach of the terms of the lease by the tenant.
Indemnify and hold harmless: To free from any responsibility or liability.
Indenture: A written contract.
Immure: To take effect.
Lease: A contract by which one party (landlord) gives another (tenant) use of building, or part of one, for a specified time and payment. This can be verbal or written.
Let: To give temporary use of apartment in return for rent paid to you.
Liable: Legally bound, as to make good any loss or damage that occurs in a transaction.
Majority: Being of legal age.
Notice to quit: Notification from landlord to tenant ordering tenant off the property (usually 30 days, from the first day of the rental period).
Notice to vacate: Notification from tenant to landlord stating intention to leave the property (usually after 30 days, from first day of the rental period).
Parties to a lease: Those who agree to abide by the provisions of a lease; typically, you as tenant, any housemates as co-tenants, and the landlord.
Possessions: Lawful occupation and use of land, subject to protections of “quiet enjoyment”.
Premise: The apartment buildings as well as your apartment.
Replevin: Legal action to recover property that was unlawfully seized.
Sublet, Sublease, Relet: A lease granted by you (lessee) to another party of all (or part of) the property.
Summary proceeding: To recover possession, eviction. “Summary proceedings” because it is a swift and simple procedure for the landlord.
Tenant: (You) occupants of a specified apartment, house trailer, etc.
Term of lease: The length of time that a lease shall be in effect; duration of obligation.
Testamonium: Statement of declaration made to establish a fact.
Thirty days notice: On a month-to-month tenancy, this is the notice that either party must give to the other to terminate the tenancy. The 30 days must include a full rental period.
Underlet: To let at a price under value.
Waiver: Act of relinguishing a right, claim or privilege.
Warrants of habitability: Promise that the property is safe and usable for residential use.