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Resources | Signing a Lease

A lease agreement is essentially a contract that defines the relationship between a tenant and landlord. Leases can vary from landlord to landlord, and it is important that you read your lease carefully before signing it. Clauses in the lease generally fall into one of these categories:

  • Restatement of guaranteed legal rights
  • A variation of a negotiable state or local law
  • A policy or rule not covered by state or local law

In Pennsylvania, leases can be written or oral, but it is advisable to avoid verbal agreements.

Typically upon signing a lease or in addition to the first month’s rent, your landlord will collect additional money known as a security deposit. This is money that they will hold on to, and ideally you will get it back entirely once your lease is up. If there are any damages to the apartment or home that need to be paid for, the landlord may take the money from your security deposit. If this is the cae, the landlord must provide with an itemized list of deductions. At the end of your lease term, your deposit should be refunded within 30 days after you terminate your tenancy.

Sometimes there may be an additional application fee or administrative fee. Application fees generally range between $10-$50 and is nonrefundable. Administrative fees are more expensive and are to be expected when moving into an apartment complex. These nonrefundable fees can range between $200-$300 and may take the place of a security deposit.