Renting Glossary: 10 Terms You Need to Know

April 21, 2021


Whether you are looking for a new apartment or renewing your current lease, you are likely to be given a lease with legal language that you might not recognize. Since a lease is a legal document, it is important to understand some of the common terms that might come up.

To help, we've gathered a list of 10 common rental terms you will need to know when searching for your next apartment:

  1. Amenity Fee: A fee charged by some apartment complexes to maintain the amenities available to renters (i.e. gym, pool, outdoor space).
  2. Lessee/Lessor: These are terms often found in a lease – the lessee is the renter and the lessor is the landlord.
  3. Mixed-Use Building: An apartment complex that also includes retail and/or office space. Often times the ground level is zoned for retail/office and the upper floors are residential.
  4. Month-to-month: A rental agreement that is automatically renewed at the end of each month and can be ended by either the landlord or renter within a certain timeframe based on the terms of the lease.
  5. Pet Deposit: A one-time fee required by the landlord to allow pets to live on the premises. In addition to the initial deposit, there may also be monthly pet fees added on to your rent.
  6. Renewal Period: Towards the end of your lease, you will be given the opportunity to renew, change, or cancel your lease.  The terms of the renewal process are detailed in the lease.
  7. Renters Insurance: Personal property insurance taken out by a renter protecting their belongings and liability in the event of damage or theft.  The landlord's property insurance does not cover a renter's belongings.
  8. Security Deposit: 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.  This money will be returned in part or in full at the end of your lease depending on charges for damage to the unit. Some states require that these funds be placed in an escrow account and that renters be paid the interest earned on the security deposit when it is returned.
  9. Sublease: When a renter rents out some or all of a rental unit.  This can only be done with the landlord's permission.
  10. Wear and Tear:  A term often found in leases describing the amount of damage to a unit that will not result in a fine or owed payment from your security deposit when you move out.

For a complete list of important terms you'll encounter on your home journey, visit our Glossary on My Home by Freddie Mac®.