Most tenants can recognize activities that will surely violate an apartment lease (like throwing all-night parties or inviting this guy to house-sit). But in your haste to move in, you may have skimmed over some of the less obvious lease violations. And it’s not always easy to separate fair conduct from something that could have your landlord inking up the old eviction stamp.
With that in mind, here are some activities that might appear harmless at first, but could come back to bite you.
1. Letting friends crash at your place long-term
Your landlord is around, so you introduce him or her to your pal/indefinite roommate: “This is Lance … he’ll, um, be here awhile.” Innocent enough, right? Whoops.
Friendly as Lance is (whoever he may be), the idea of an unofficial tenant living in your place might scare your landlord and be a lease violation. The reason? Packing your pad with mysterious peeps can be a damage or liability risk and could cause complications if eviction becomes necessary.
2. Owning a water bed
Many landlords might declare having liquid-filled furniture, like water beds, a lease violation. Though it’s not especially easy to puncture a water bed, a carelessly placed sharp object could be enough to warrant an ark. In other words, water beds pose a continuous damage risk your landlord likely won’t want to deal with. On the bright side, for renters who simply cannot forego aquatic relaxation, putting a chaise lounge in your tub is still fair game (but don’t quote me on that).
3. Upgrading your TV service
Say football season is approaching and you decide to upgrade to the deluxe sports package. No problem, right? Well, it depends on how you purchased this package. If it was by signing up for satellite TV, that might be a lease violation. Since you don’t own the building, your apartment lease may forbid you from attaching objects like a dish to the building.
4. Taking a long, unannounced vacation
If you start buying Panama hats in bulk, it’s probably best not to let your landlord see the receipts. Taking a long trip without telling your landlord how long you’ll be gone could actually be prohibited by your apartment lease. Many landlords worry about what can happen in unattended units (burst pipes, bug infestation, etc.), so they may want the right to enter your place while you’re jet-setting. Besides, if you’re going to be away for a while, it’s probably wise to have someone looking in on your place.
5. Overcrowding bedrooms
You may think that as long as rent is paid by all the tenants in your apartment, you have the right to add as many residents as you like. Not always true. Many leases, especially those written for apartments in college towns, restrict the number of occupants in any one bedroom.
We know that when money is tight, the prospect of dividing up your rent like an extra-large pizza is tempting. But in this case, it’s best to follow the rules and observe the capacity laws.
You: “You’ve got to try this duck confit burger I grilled up!”
Landlord: “Oh, it’s delicious! So tender. You’re a true artiste with the spatula. You’ll have to give me the recipe. Now get out, punk.”
Coldhearted, perhaps, but not totally out of line. Many lease violations come from using outdoor fire of any kind — and that includes grilling. This rule is common in large, multi-unit buildings where there isn’t much outdoor space. But even if you rent a house and have an entire yard to yourself, it’s always best to check your lease carefully before you break out the lighter fluid.
7. Losing your stuff to burglary
Wait a minute … how could being the victim of theft possibly be a violation on your part? Well, it’s not the theft, but rather your lack of protection against it. See, some landlords actually require tenants to purchase renters insurance as part of their apartment lease. And, with all that renters insurance can do (like replacing your belongings after a burglary, for starters), who can blame them?
Get a renters insurance quote with us and see just how affordable coverage for your treasured possessions can be (and get your landlord off your back in the process).
Don’t let a lease violation put you out in the cold
Rental laws vary from city to city, so be sure to check the laws in your area. And even though your lease may be long and look boring, always read it thoroughly before you sign it. (That goes for any legal document, really.)
You’ve learned what you can’t do as tenant. Now check out some common renters’ rights to see what you can do.