Lease signing can be confusing, especially when visiting an
Student Legal Services is your number one resource for
understanding this process!
Important Lease Terms to Know
Lease: A legal document stating the dates,
cost of rent, rules and other requirements for the rental
agreement between an individual and a management company or
landlord. In the state of Colorado, a lease becomes final
immediately after being signed, and is very hard to break
unless you have a serious problem as outlined in the
Security Deposit: A security deposit is
generally required of the tenant when signing a lease. It
is the amount of money a landlord sets aside to pay for any
damages a tenant might cause during their stay. If no
damage has been done to the property, a landlord has 30
days (up to 60 days if stated in the lease) to return the
full amount of the deposit at the end of the rental term.
If upon final inspection the landlord determines that there
have been damages made to the property, they must provide
an itemized statement accounting for all money not returned
to the tenant. In order to protect your security deposit,
it is advised that you complete a rental
checklist when moving into a new place, recording all
damages that were already there upon move-in. Be sure to
attach a copy of this form to your lease and keep an
additional copy for your own records. It can also be
helpful to take dated pictures of the damages.
Eviction: Eviction is the removal of a
tenant from a rental property by the landlord. The landlord
must have just cause to evict a tenant before the end of
the rental terms agreed upon in the lease.
Background Check: A background check or
background investigation is the process of looking up and
compiling criminal records, commercial records and
financial records of an individual. In most instances, if
you decide you want to rent a property, the landlord will
perform a background check to determine if there are any
legal or financial reasons they should not rent you their
property. Note: If a landlord asks to perform a
background/credit check before they have met you or shown
you the property, this is one warning sign of a rental
scam. In these instances, it is best to find a different
Sub-Lease: If a tenant wishes to get out
of a lease agreement early, one option is to sublet. In the
case of a sub-lease, a new tenant takes over the remainder
of the lease and becomes responsible for the rent. If you
decide to sublet your property, be aware that a sub-lease
does not release you from the responsibilities of your
lease if the subtenant fails to fulfill their obligations.
Also, not all landlords will allow you to sublet their
property so be sure to discuss this option with your
landlord or property management company before signing any
documents. If you are looking for a short-term lease,
finding a tenant interested in sub-leasing is a good
option. In Fort Collins, there is often a number of
sub-lease opportunities over the summer when students leave
Joint and Several Liability: Under Joint
and Several Liability, if one roommate moves out, the
remaining roommates are responsible for that person's share
of the rent and any damages. This law does not apply to the
apartment complexes in town (including Ram's Village, Ram's
Park, Campus Crossing at Ram's Pointe, etc.) who rent their
apartments out by the room.
Civil: Non-criminal legal matters
generally relating to the rights of private individuals.
Most housing disputes are handled in civil courts rather
than criminal courts.
Constructive Eviction: Takes place when a
landlord makes a property uninhabitable or unusable for the
original purposes in which the lease was signed. For
example a tenant can leave a property if housing standards
are not being met.
Default: Failure to fulfill a legal
obligation such as not making a required appearance at a
court case or not paying the agreed upon rent amount.
Mitigate: Making compromises to avoid