Landlords typically want all adults (18 years of age and older) who will live in the rental unit, including both members of a couple, to sign the lease or rental agreement. Doing this makes everyone who signs responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent. The landlord isn’t the only one who benefits when everyone signs on the dotted line. If you have roommates, you’ll want them to understand that they are bound by the landlord’s rules on guests, noise, pets, and so on, and that one roommate’s serious transgression can result in the ouster of everyone.
At the end of the lease or rental agreement, there will be typically be space for your landlord’s signature, street address, and phone number, or that of the person she authorizes to receive legal papers, such as a property manager. There will also be space for your and other tenants’ signatures and phone numbers, as well as any cosigner (someone who agrees to cover any rent or damage-repair costs you fail to pay).
Before signing, be sure of the following:
- The lease or rental agreement includes the essentials, such as rent (how much, when, where due, and how it's paid), deposits (the amount, use, and return policy), pets, and parking
- You understand all terms.
- The lease or rental agreement covers everything important that you and your landlord may have verbally discussed, such as the landlord will install security bars on the windows. If it’s not in the lease, at least make sure your agreement is written down in a letter of understanding.
- If your landlord has agreed to omit an illegal clause, cross it out and make sure that both of you initial and date the cross-out.
- If your landlord has altered a preprinted form by writing or typing in changes, you and the landlord should both initial and date the changes when you sign the document.
Make sure you sign the lease or rental agreement at the same time as the landlord and that you get a copy then and there. This assures both sides that no changes can be made after only one party has signed.