Renting Glossary: The Top 10 Terms You Need to Know

November 03, 2022

If you are preparing to rent your first apartment, you are likely to come across terms and phrases in your lease agreement you may not recognize. Because a lease is a legal document, you should familiarize yourself with some of the housing terms you may encounter in the agreement.  

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

  1. Amenity Fee

    A fee charged by some apartment complexes to maintain the amenities available to renters (i.e., a gym, pool or outdoor space).

  2. Lessee/Lessor

    These terms are often used in a lease agreement to describe the renter (lessee) and landlord (lessor).

  3. Mixed-Use Building

    An apartment complex that includes retail and/or office space. The ground level of these buildings are often zoned for retail/offices and the upper floors are residential.

  4. Month-to-Month

    A rental agreement that is automatically renewed at the end of each month. This agreement 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 into your rent.

  6. Renewal Period

    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 the renewal process are detailed in the lease.

  7. Renters Insurance

    A personal property insurance policy taken out by a renter protecting their belongings and liability in the event of damage or theft. Renters insurance is beneficial because a 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

    The term for 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 more information about renting, visit My Home by Freddie Mac®.

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