Lease Agreements, Understand Your Fixed Lease Agreement

Published: 15th November 2009
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A fixed lease agreement is the least flexible type of landlord tenant form agreement. The fixed lease has a specific duration with a set beginning date and a set ending date. While it is not as flexible as a periodic lease or an at will lease, it affords both the property owner and the tenant more legal protections than these other lease types.

Terminating a fixed term lease contract prior to the agreed end date can be very difficult. As a tenant, leaving the property before the lease term is over does not alleviate you from the obligation to continue making your rent payments. Even though you no longer occupy the property you have agreed to make the payments for the specified time period. Some landlords may ask for a couple or a few months payments and allow you to terminate the agreement early, but they are under no legal obligation to do so.

This makes the fixed period lease form a poor choice for some people like college students and military personnel who typically are not permanent long term members of the community. These groups may be required to relocate frequently, and in the case of a military family, suddenly.

For others, the fixed lease form offers greater protection than the other types of agreements. The landlord will have to have serious reasons for terminating the lease early. You are legally protected against property owners evicting you suddenly so that they re-rent the property at a higher rental rate. In order to evict you from the property the landlord will have to obtain a court order, and show valid grounds for early termination such as failure to pay rent, or serious property damage.

There may be other clauses in the lease forms that allow the property owner to evict the tenant in the event the contract is broken. Be sure you understand and abide by all clauses in your lease forms. Ask questions if you do not understand something. It is your responsibility to understand the terms you agree to, and not understanding them does not relieve you of your legal responsibilities or of the consequences for breaking them.

Periodic lease forms are executed week to week, or more frequently month to month. Terminating a periodic lease agreement is much easier and involves no penalties. At will lease forms actually do not involve any formal written agreement and can be terminated verbally. They do not offer as much stability, but are more flexible for landlord and tenant alike. Some proprietors will require that a tenant starts out on one of these agreements, then switch them to a fixed lease agreement to ensure the tenant is someone they want on their real estate before making long term commitments.

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