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Thursday, Feb. 22
The Indiana Daily Student

Breaking through the legal bull

Legal Bull

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 during your search.

Legality

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 red flags your landlord might have included.

Entirety

Before accepting keys from the landlord, take photos or videos of the entire house or apartment. If something is broken, report it. 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 have a mutual understanding.

Length

Most leases in Bloomington are for 12 months. Beware 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.

Ascertainability

Almost all leases in Bloomington contain a joint and several liability clause. Should one roommate be unable to pay, 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, be sure your roommates fulfill their obligations.

Eviction

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, and they must pay monthly rent until the lease ends.

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.

Co-signer clause

This requires a co-signer, 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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