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  • Writer's pictureAmber S

Renters: 10 Terms You Need to Know

Because a lease is a legal document, you should know what some of the terms you may encounter mean.

If you're preparing to rent your first home (or even if you've been renting for quite some time), you are likely to come across terms and phrases in your lease agreement you might not recognize. Freddie Mac put together this list of 10 rental terms you need to know:

1. Amenity Fee

A fee charged by some apartment complexes to maintain amenities available to renters, like a gym or pool (typically found in larger complexes and/or student housing).

2. Lessee/Lessor

Description words for the renter (lessee) and the landlord (lessor).

3. Mixed-Use Building

Typically, apartment units that share a building with a retail and/or office space. The ground level of these buildings are often zoned for retail/offices and the upper floors are for residential.

4. Month-to-Month

This is a rental agreement that is automatically renewed at the end of each month until the renter or landlord choose to end the agreement, within a certain timeframe based on the terms of the lease.

5. Pet Deposit

This one is kind-of self explanatory, however it consists of a one-time fee required by the landlord to allow pets to live on the premises. In addition to the initial pet deposit, there may also be monthly pet fees added into your rent. *

6. Renewal Period

This is the period near the end of your lease when you will be given the opportunity to renew, change, or cancel your lease. The terms of this process will be detailed in your lease but is typically a few months prior to the end of your lease term.

7. Renters Insurance

A landlord's property insurance covers the building only, meaning that should something happen none of your belongings would be covered. That is where Renters Insurance comes in. It is a personal property insurance policy set up by a renter to protect your belongings in the event of damage or theft. This is usually inexpensive, running less than $20/mo. **

8. Security Deposit

When you rent a property you will need to come up with first months rent & a security deposit. This is the sum of money you owe to your landlord before moving in as a precaution for potential damage or unpaid rent payments during your lease. At the end of your lease, this money will be returned to you (less any charges due to damage and/or unpaid rents). In the state of Indiana, landlords have 45 days from the date of move-out to issue your security deposit refund, if applicable.

9. Sublease

You want to move out of your rental property but your lease isn't up for another 6 months. This is where you sublease- the term for when a renter wants someone else to take over the terms of the lease. This can only be done with the landlords permission.

10. Wear and Tear

Most everyone knows that certain things are going to need replaced/fixed when a renter moves out (nail holes patched, for example). Your lease will describe what those items are and/or the amount of damage to a unit that will not result in a fine or lessened security deposit refund.


* In the State of Indiana, Support Animals (which are registered service animals and/or emotional support animals) do not count as a "pet" and therefore landlords can not charge a pet deposit or any extra fees for these animals. To be considered a service animal or ESA (emotional support animal) proper paperwork must be given to the landlord.

** Here at Indiana Property Management, you can purchase rental insurance straight through our rental portal, which runs about $18/mo.

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