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First Time Tenants Need To Know These 7 Important Lease Conditions

lease agreementThe importance of a lease agreement cannot be stressed enough and is there to protect both the renter and the landlord. In fact, leases are one of three contracts that California’s Statute of Frauds requires in writing. Approaching a lease agreement as a first-time tenant can be intimidating. It is best to know some of the common terms of these contracts, and what they mean to you.

  1. Tenant List
    If you plan on living with another person and they are not your dependent, you must include them on the lease agreement. This makes both of you legally culpable for upholding the contents of the lease.
  2. Cost
    In any lease, the cost of rent per month should be clearly noted and explained. The conditions in which the landlord can raise the rent, the conditions that would allow a tenant not to pay rent, and all additional pricing information should be fully detailed on the lease.
  3. Term
    The duration the lease will last, the protocol for subletting, and consequences for early termination on either the tenant’s or landlord’s end must all be delineated.
  4. Right To Entry
    A landlord has the right to enter your apartment if they’ve given you notice or in the case of an emergency. The laws vary based on location, so it is best to specify conditions both parties can agree upon.
  5. Utilities
    Who pays for the utilities? If the landlord advertises the property as having gas and electric included, make sure this is reflected in the contract.
  6. Maintenance
    Who takes care of what? Generally, any property damage or negligence that you caused will come out of your security deposit. On the other hand, any mechanical failures of the property are generally on your landlord to fix. Make sure a fair division of responsibility is reflected in the lease.
  7. Security Deposit
    Many landlords simply pocket your security deposit and you’ll never see it again. To avoid this, take pictures before you move in and after you move out. In the lease, read the section about your security deposit to see what it covers, and what your landlord is allowed to use it for.

Lease agreements exist to protect the personal property rights of both the tenant and the landlord. In order to ensure you are signing a fair document, read it carefully. If you are still unsure, run it by a real estate attorney for further clarification. When in doubt, always consult a lawyer about property law cases you don’t fully understand.

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The Foreclosure Process and Your Best Options

foreclosure processTyping the words ‘foreclosure process’ into Google is something no one should have to do, but the harsh reality is this: one out of every 200 homes will be foreclosed upon.

If you feel like you haven’t been given proper notice, then check your state laws. Most states have strict regulations on what constitutes a proper eviction or foreclosure notice. Likewise, if you have not received ample opportunity to pay ahead of the property’s foreclosure sale, you might have cause to challenge the sale. But what if you have received a proper foreclosure notice? Then it is time to talk to a real state lawyer immediately.

While your lawyer will be able to advise you on your specific legal situation, you may also benefit from a deeper understanding of the foreclosure process, which can be stressful and downright terrifying.

The foreclosure process

Step 1. Notice of Default: This is the official notice that the creditor has defaulted on the mortgage loan. In this letter, you will get information about how much you owe, how long you have to pay, and what will happen if you can’t. If you pay the amount due in the time allotted, your house will remain yours. If not, you move to step two. Before you pay anything though, run the document by your attorney. He or she will work toward finding out whether there is anything that would delegitimatize the notice of default, such as failure to comply with state real estate laws.

Step 2. Assess your options: Even when you can’t afford to pay what you owe, you still have options, but they aren’t great. If the foreclosure notice holds up against the law, you can try re-negotiating your mortgage payment plan via a loan modification. This can be tricky, but your lawyer can help you through the process. The second option you have is exchanging the deed for the balance owed. Third, you can short the property for less than the loan. You will still be responsible for the remaining balance, however. These options are best explored with the guidance of a real estate attorney.

Step 3. The House Goes Up For Auction: After the deadline to repay has passed, you will be expected to vacate the premises, and fast. Your creditor, in hopes of recuperating your unpaid mortgage, places your house on an open auction. It is common for creditors to only accept cash at these auctions, so while they often don’t make a huge profit off your house, the bidding usually starts at what you owed.

In the end, foreclosure is never an enjoyable process, but if you get a lawyer you will be on a much better footing for the fight to come. To find out more about past personal property law cases and their outcomes, ask your lawyer or consult the public records in your area.