Understanding Major Violations of Your Lease

Reading and understanding the terms of your lease is an integral part of a successful rental experience. It is important to realize that by signing the lease you are entering into a legally binding contract with the Landlord. Both parties are promising to perform certain duties and obligations as stated in the lease. The landlord is granting you a “leasehold interest”. So what is a leasehold interest? It is a right to enjoy the exclusive possession and use of a property for a stated definite period of time, as created by a written lease. Tenants have the right to use the property for its intended use (a residence) and use of all improvements (which includes appliances, fixtures, equipment and systems identified in the lease).
In return for the right to occupy and use the home, there are many things required of the tenant. Several of the major violations that McGrath Real Estate Services, Inc. has found tenants, typically, break are outlined below, as well as how to avoid doing so. In an effort to ensure you receive all or most of your security deposit, please take careful note of these policies!
No smoking: Smoking is prohibited at all McGrath properties. The odor resulting from smoking inside is nearly impossible to get rid of and has to be rectified through replacement of carpets, repainting of walls, and cleaning of heating and cooling ducts. This could amount to thousands of dollars that would be deducted from your security deposit. This one is easy don’t smoke inside, and you have satisfied your responsibility under the lease.
No subletting: Paragraph 36 discusses appropriate “Uses” for the property, specifically no subletting. The lease stipulates that only those listed on the application as the “Tenant(s)” and their children (under 18 years of age) are allowed to occupy the home as a residence only. No portion of the premises can be sublet without the written consent of the Landlord. You can have guests visit the home but not for more than two weeks without getting permission. If you are in a situation where you or one of your roommates must leave the home and are considering subletting, stop! The correct way to go about this is to find a suitable replacement for the person leaving and have them apply with McGrath Real Estate Services, Inc. We will perform the same background check as we did for the original occupants and present it to the owner for their approval. In most cases, if this person makes an equivalent amount of income and no “red flags” are found the owner may grant your request. An addendum will be prepared, releasing the leaving tenant of responsibility and adding the new tenant to the lease. It is very important to understand that we will NOT release any portion of the security deposit to the tenant leaving. This is an issue that you and your roommate(s) would need to coordinate amongst yourselves. There is a $400 administrative fee associated with a change like this so we recommend not doing it if at all possible.
Early Termination of Occupancy Prohibited: 99.9% of the time it is prohibited for a tenant to end their lease early. Two circumstances do allow for a tenant to terminate and are outlined in Paragraph 31, Clause B: Transfer of Tenant. In the following cases ONLY is a tenant allowed to terminate a lease early: 1. Tenant is transferred fifty (50) miles or more from the location of the premises by the employer stated on your original rental application. 2. Tenant is prematurely or involuntarily discharged or relieved from active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States. In both of these cases, the tenant is required to provide at least 60 days written notice, official transfer or discharge orders, payment for the last month’s rent and “liquidated damages” (please read paragraph 32 for more information on liquidated damages). If for any other reason you are trying to break your lease, you and the Landlord must come to a separate and mutual agreement allowing you to terminate the lease early. This typically entails allowing the property immediately be marketed on the active rental market. You will be required to pay rent and utilities and maintain premises until the end of the original lease term OR until the property is re-rented. You will also be required to pay “liquidated damages”. Lastly, a $400 administrative fee will be charged. It is costly and time consuming to end your lease early and we recommend you avoid it if at all possible.
No Unauthorized Pets: Let’s say you’d like to adopt a dog from your local shelter; will that affect your lease? The answer is yes! If you would like to add any pet to your lease you must get permission from your landlord first. It is at the landlord’s sole discretion to allow pets on the property. There is certain information that McGrath Real Estate needs to know to submit your request to the Landlord. The type of pet (ex. Doberman), gender, age, size, and whether it has been spayed or neutered. Those factors will contribute to the decision of the Landlord. If the owner accepts, then we will send you an addendum to the lease adding the pet and requesting the agreed upon refundable pet deposit. If we are informed you have an unauthorized pet at the home, it is grounds for an immediate inspection of the premises. We understand the desire to have a pet (most of us are pet owners too!) but McGrath does not want you to lose your deposit over an unapproved pet. Please follow the correct channels.
Last but not Least – You Must Pay Your Rent on Time: This seems like a no-brainer but we want to make sure you understand what “on time” means. Rent is due on or before the first of the month and is considered late if received after the first. A late fee will be charged to rent not received by the fifth of the month. IF the fifth falls on a Saturday, please come by the office, it’s open (Saturday hours are 9am-1pm)! The only exception is when the fifth falls on a Sunday; we will not charge a late fee for all rent that was put in our drop box by Monday morning (9am EST—no exceptions). A great way to avoid ever being charged late fees is to pay your rent online using our Tenant Portal! This is a great, free tool that allows you to either pay your rent manually online each month or set it to automatically withdraw on the same day each month. McGrath strongly encourages all of our tenants to pay rent online.
There are many other obligations and duties according to your lease so please make sure you read it. If you ever have any questions, please contact our Leasing Department at Leasing@McGrathRealEstate.com.

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