What Does that Mean??? A First-Time Renter's Dictionary


Renters Dictionary

Believe it or not, depending on where you’re planning to move, there’s a few more terms other than “lease” you are going to need to know. Some of the simplest concepts in the renting world have the most absolutely confusing names, and we can help with that. Here’s your Renters-101-Dictionary:

Joint and Several Liability

This means the condition when there is more than one person listed on the lease as tenants. In other words, your and your housemates will be held equally responsible for the rent, utilities and any damage to the unit. Say your housemate breaks a window when you’re not home –joint and several liability indicates you can also be held responsible because you signed the lease (check the lease –and choose your roommates carefully).

Statement of Condition

What’s a “Statement of Condition”and why does it sound so intimidating? Don’t be scared, the Statement of Condition is all for you. When you turn in a security deposit to a landlord, he or she is required by law to supply you with a written statement of the condition of the apartment when you first move in. You can use the form to document any damage you find in the unit, (lest you be held responsible for someone else’s accidents).

Illegal lease term

Hopefully you don’t come across one, but an “illegal lease term”is a provision in the lease that is against the law, and you are not required to follow it.


Defined by Columbia University as the “incentive offered by a landlord, including free rent, early occupancy, or reduction of fees.


Amenities are the enticements that the building offers its tenants, such as a doorman, gym, laundry, trash service, garage, lounge, etc.


More rules. These in particular dictate how the building or condo operates, including regulating landlords and building managers and how they dictate other rules.


Refers to the listing of all the rents received from each tenant through the year. This is primarily useful for your landlord, but if you hear it around the building just know that rent’s probably due soon.

Rules of Tenancy

If you see this phrase in your lease, be comforted by knowing that you probably live in a nice neighborhood. The phrase refers to the building’s rules for you and the other tenants, including quiet hours, guest policy, late-rent payments, policy on pets, etc.

There are so many more terms for renters, but these are the most common. Always be careful when signing a lease. Meet an Agent or an attorney to consult with for any major questions.

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