Your Lease, Decoded: Know What You Are Signing When Entering Into Rental Contract

In a college town like Athens, Ga., renting is abundant. When renting a home or apartment, you must sign a lease, or a contract renting the property for a specified term for a specified rent.

But how well do you understand the lease that you are signing?

 Why It’s Newsworthy: Signing a legal document such as a lease is a binding agreement, so it’s important to understand what is, what is not and what should be included.   


One resource for understanding leases is the Georgia Landlord-Tenant Handbook. Developed by Georgia’s Department of Community Affairs, this document provides an explanation of the state’s rental laws. It outlines a general list of what should be included in a lease.

However, each lease is different and requires its own thorough read-through.

Pamela Turner, an associate professor and University of Georgia Extension housing specialist, said people often rush into rental decisions without putting in their due diligence of search.

“Reading a lease is one of the things that, if you do have a friend who is in law school, or somebody who likes that kinds of thing, it would be worth it to run it by somebody else, or a parent, or somebody who’s read a lot of leases,” Turner said.

If you are preparing to sign for a home or apartment and need an additional resource, click through the story below to decode your lease.

Tip: Click full screen for the best viewing experience.

When it comes time to move out, students and first-time renters can make mistakes that result in the landlord withholding the security deposit.

Use this checklist as a guide when moving out, but don’t forget to also consult your lease!

Arden Baila, Becca Beato, Christina Conner and Kendall Lake are seniors majoring in journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.


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