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Cornell University

Lease Signing Checklist

Before you commit to renting a housing unit, you should clearly understand the responsibilities involved with each of the following terms. They should be explicitly identified in your lease as words with common and everyday meanings and must be clear and coherent. Compare any lease you are considering signing with applicable tenant-landlord laws. As you are reading through your lease, make sure the following items are addressed within the document. If some things are not addressed, be sure to ask the landlord about his or her policy regarding those items. You may also request to have items added to the lease. For questions about leases and tenant-landlord relationships, contact Off-Campus Living at 607-255-2310 or visit our website at Another useful resource is the New York State Tenants Rights Guide produced by the New York State Attorney General.

  • Amount
  • Due date
  • Penalty for late payment
  • Price changes
  • Conditions for price changes
Security/Damage Deposit
  • Amount
  • Conditions for return
  • Date for return
  • Ability to sublet
  • Conditions for sublet
  • Location
  • Limitations
Additional Costs
  • Utilities (i.e., gas, electric, phone, water)
  • Pet-related charges/deposit
  • Overnight or weekend guests
  • Parking
  • Furnishings
  • Cleaning
  • Other
  • Smoking
  • Noise
  • Storage
  • Pets
  • Alterations (i.e., picture hanging, painting)
  • Conduct
  • Parties
  • Waterbeds
Time of Occupancy
  • Dates (be exact)
  • Requirements for notification of renewal
  • Number of occupants (min and max)
  • Responsibility for damages
  • Assessment of damages
  • Responsibility for repairs
Changes in Agreement
  • Conditions for changes of agreement
  • Process for changing agreement
Laundry Facilities
  • Provision of facilities
  • Ability for tenant to install machines
  • Other limitations
  • When
  • By whom (i.e., landlord, add’l inspectors)
  • Use of rental inventory
  • Certificate of Compliance (Ithaca City only)
  • Notification of inspection
  • Responsibility
  • Frequency
  • Equipment provided
Special Considerations
  • Planned improvements/special work
  • Snow removal (property and/or public sidewalks)
  • Name and address of property owner
  • Name and address of property manager
  • Name and contact info for Emergencies

Material adapted with permission from the University of Maryland Off-Campus Housing Services 10/2011.