Lease terms

When you read a lease carefully, there may be terms you do not understand. Do not skip over what is unclear to you. You may be agreeing to provisions to which you wish you hadn’t agreed. Ask before signing anything. Off-Campus Living, a legal aid organization, or your family’s private attorney will be able to help you interpret anything that might be confusing to you. The following list includes a number of terms to help you read a lease or contract.

Aforesaid Mentioned previously
Arrears Overdue rent
Assign Transfer the unexpired portion of a lease
Cause of Action Specific situation that may become the basis for a lawsuit
Civil A non-criminal legal matter. Housing disputes are generally handled in civil courts.
Covenant Binding agreement, promise. Independent covenant: you must perform your obligation even if the other party does not. Dependent covenant: your carry out your obligations on the condition that the other party fulfills its obligations.
Default To forfeit or lose by omission; to fail to perform legal obligation
Demise To transfer by lease
Demised Premises The place being rented
Detainer Withholding another’s property against his/her will
Dispossess Remove a person from land by legal process; the legal action brought for non-payment of rent; eviction
Distraint Seizure of your property to collect a debt
Ejectment Physical and legal eviction from land
Eviction Depriving a person of possession of occupancy. Constructive eviction: not actually removing a tenant but making it impossible for him/her to remain because of the conditions
Guarantor One who guarantees to take legal responsibility for another, such as your parents if you are a minor (providing they sign for you)
Goods and chattels Personal property
Hereinafter In the part after this part (of the lease)
Hereinbefore In the part before this part (of the lease)
Hereunto Unto this; upto this time; hereto
Holdover Retaining possession of rented real estate after the lease term expires, or after a tenancy at will has been terminated
Indemnify and Hold Harmless To free from any responsibility or liability; to compensate and restore the victim to loss, in whole or in part, by payment, repair, or replacement
Indenture A written contract
Inure Take effect
Lease A contract by which one party (landlord) gives another (tenant) use of building, or part of one, for a specified time and payment. This can be verbal or written.
Lessee Tenant
Lessor Landlord
Let To give temporary use of apartment in return for rent paid to you
Liable Legally bound, as to make good any loss or damage that occurs in a transaction
Majority Being of legal age
Notice to quit Notification from landlord to tenant ordering tenant off the property. Notice to vacate: notification from tenant to landlord stating intention to leave the property.
Parties to a lease Those who agree to abide by the provisions of a lease; typically, you as tenant, any housemates as co-tenants, and the landlord
Possession Lawful occupation and use of land, subject to protections of “quiet enjoyment”
Premise The apartment building as well as your apartment
Replevin Legal action to recover property that was unlawfully seized
Sublet A lease granted by you (lesee) to another party of all (or part of) the property (sublease; relet)
Summary proceeding To recover possession – eviction. “Summary proceedings” because it is a swift and simple procedure for the landlord.
Tenant (You) occupants of a specified apartment, house, trailer, etc.
Term of lease The length of time that a lease shall be in effect; duration of obligation.
Testimonium Oral statement of declaration under oath or affirmation made to establish a fact.
Underlet Where lessee lets premises for less time than period of his or her unexpired term; a sub lease; also the transfer of a part only of the lands, though for the whole term
Waiver Act of relinquishing a right, claim, or privilege.
Warrants of habitability Promise that the property is safe and usable for residential use.

(Penn State Erie, The Behrend College)