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A lease is a legally binding contract. While you may be excited about your new rental, and your landlord has promised you all the perks you could ever want, things can go south very quickly if you don’t understand the terms of your lease. As a legal document, there are terms that have specific meanings and definitions, and you should be aware of them before you sign the lease.  

Automatic Renewal/Notice to Vacate

Generally, you will have to give notice that you intend to vacate the property or not renew the lease within a certain period of time before the expiration of the lease. If you fail to give the notice in the way in which the lease dictates, you could be stuck with an automatic renewal of the lease even if you have already found a new place to lease. Sometimes if the lease is not renewed or notice to vacate is not given, the lease becomes month to month. If this occurs, the landlord can give you 30 days notice to vacate at any time. This can cause you to have to find a place to reside quickly. However, you can provide the landlord the same 30 days notice and leave the property with no obligation. Read the terms of your lease carefully and mark your calendar so you know that you will give the proper notice on time.  

Deposit Requirements

Almost all landlords require a deposit against potential damages that you may cause to the unit while occupying it. This is not your last month’s rent, so you cannot assume that your landlord will apply this deposit to your rent. The landlord is required to return the deposit and/or an itemized list of the damage to which it was applied within a period of time set by the laws in the State in which you live. You must provide the landlord your new address or the obligation to return the deposit can become void.

Grace Period

This is the period of time that the lease allows between the date your payment is due and the date upon which the landlord will consider the payment late and can institute the late fee provision. Not all leases have a grace period. You should always plan to pay your lease payment on time.  


A guest is a person whose name is not on the lease. The lease may have specific requirements or limitations on who can stay in the unit and for how long as a guest. 

Pet Deposit/Breed Restrictions

If you have a pet and want to lease a unit, the landlord can ask for an additional deposit against any potential damage caused by the pet. Further, the landlord can restrict the size, breed and number of animals that are allowed in the unit. If you violate the restrictions, it can be cause for eviction.  


This means that you are paying for the number of days of the month that you actually occupy the unit. This is usually used when you would want to move in on a date other than the 1st day of the month.  

Quiet Enjoyment

This is your right, and the right of your neighbors, to enjoy the unit peacefully and without being disturbed by the landlord or the neighbors. This term is described in the Ohio Revised Code and can be enforced by Ohio courts.  

Right of Entry

The landlord has the right to enter the property with the proper notice. In Ohio, the codified notice is 24 hours. The lease can modify some of the right to enter, if the unit is being shown to new potential tenants. However, in the case of emergency or if there is say a water leak, the landlord is not required to give notice and may enter the unit to assess, contain and repair the damage.  

Lessor and Lessee

The term Lessor refers to the property owner or landlord, and the term Lessee refers to the renter.  


If you see the term “utilities included” that means services such as water, gas, electricity, sewage and or sanitation may be included in the rental bill. Be sure to clarify which utilities are included if you see this language.  

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The law may seem mysterious when it isn’t your profession, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to enter legal agreements with as much information as possible. Contacting an attorney can help. We’re just a click away.