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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student

Breaking through the legal bull

If you plan to sign a lease in Bloomington, you should know a few things before putting pen to paper.

If you plan to sign a lease in Bloomington, you should know a few things before putting pen to paper. The Indiana Daily Student and Randall Frykberg from IU’s Student Legal Services have some tips to consider and clauses to look out for when searching for a place of residence.

A lease is a legally-binding contract. Your landlord has a lawyer who writes the lease agreement. Before signing anything, bring it to the Student Legal Services office, 703 E. Seventh St., to find any red flags your landlord might have included.

Before accepting keys from the landlord, take photos or videos of the entire house or apartment. If something is broken, report it. Don’t allow yourself to be charged for something you didn’t break.
Sometimes, your leasing agent or landlord will do a walkthrough with you before you move in. Make sure to take notes of any damages so you and your landlord are on the same page.

Most leases in Bloomington are for 12 months, but some are open-ended. In those cases, both the tenant and landlord have the right to terminate the lease at any time. Look for leases that include an automatic-renewal clause, which automatically renews the lease unless tenants give written notice 30 to 60 days prior to the end date.

Almost all leases in Bloomington contain a joint and several liability clause. Should one roommate be unable to pay his or her share, all roommates would be responsible. If the lease does not contain this clause, the landlord likely rents individual rooms and will often reserve the right to replace any person who has been evicted with a person of his or her choosing. Regardless, make sure your roommates can carry their weight.

Contingent upon your landlord, certain rules contained in the lease must be followed. Leave no room for ambiguity concerning those rules that list eviction as a consequence.

Savings clause
This clause makes tenants liable for rent after eviction. The tenant must pay monthly rent until the lease ends even though he or she can’t live in the residence.

Acceleration clause
This states that once a tenant breaches the lease terms, he or she immediately owes the rent for the remainder of the lease term. In this situation, the landlord is also legally obligated to re-rent the property as soon as possible so as not to lose profit on empty spaces.

Attorney’s fee clause
This clause is written into most leases and states that if a landlord hires a lawyer for any reason, brings a suit against the tenant and wins, the tenant is responsible for the landlord’s attorney fees.

Lockout clause
This allows a landlord to gain possession of a home without an eviction order. This is rare because lockouts are illegal under state law.

Cosigner clause
This requires a cosigner, typically a student’s parent or guardian, to share responsibility for the lease’s terms. Some landlords require this specifically for international students.

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