When it comes to renting an apartment or house, having a signed lease is ideal. Renting property is an agreement between the property owner (landlord) and the renter who lives there (tenant). Generally speaking, leases are pretty straightforward and very common.

How It Works


rental agreement form with signing hand and keys and pen

A lease is a signed agreement between the tenant and landlord. This document lays out important conditions that both the tenant and landlord must follow. For instance, a lease agreement will specific the cost of rent, when rent is due, and if there are late fees or grace periods. Although these are the main points of a lease, many leases include other information, such as the term of the rental. Above and beyond that, leases often include the cost of utilities, rules on keeping pets, noise policies, and any other special regulations that the owner or the tenant see fit.


Assuming the lease doesn’t include any regulations specifically prohibited by law, having a signed lease binds both parties to a set of agreed-upon rules. This means that the landlord can’t increase rent without giving notice. It also means that the tenant must provide a certain notice before moving out. As such, a signed lease serves not only as an agreement but as a legally-binding document, ensuring the protection of both parties’ interests.

Many college-age students tend to move around a lot. They want to get apartments with good friends, they want to try living in a different area of town, or they may end up transferring to a different school at the end of a semester. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for landlords to provide certain circumstances for breaking leases. For example, a lease can be broken with a written notice, a penalty fee, or some other set of circumstances.

Renting Without a Lease

Some people might find it ideal to rent without a formal agreement and have a more informal relationship with their landlord. These renters (considered “tenants-at-will) typically still have rights, but they’re far less protected than those bound to a lease. For example, a landlord can give a notice without reason, requiring them to be out in a short period of time. Also, if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, the landlord can pursue legal action.

Overall, it’s best to sign a lease when moving to off campus housing at Ohio University.

Wharton Rentals is committed to making the off-campus living experience a positive one for college students in Athens, Ohio.

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