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Trick or Treat: Time to Check Your Lease

Make sure your Halloween festivities don't put you at risk for eviction.

Ready to turn your apartment into a spooky scare den for a huge Halloween bash? Actually, you might want to hold off on turning your rented abode into a haunted home.

That big costume party you’re planning and all those jack-o’-lanterns you carved actually could be breaking certain terms of your lease. Dig up your paperwork or check with your landlord about the following Allhallows Eve traditions so you don’t get the terrifying surprise of an eviction notice.

Beyond Cigarettes: Candles, Fire, and Smoke Machines

Trick or Treat Lease

Dig up your paperwork or check with your landlord about observing Allhallows Eve traditions in your home so you don’t get the terrifying surprise of an eviction notice.

These days, a lot of landlords have decided to make their apartment buildings smoke-free — and that includes lighting up candles and setting up a spooky smoke machine, in addition to cigarettes. All three are major fire hazards, not to mention the odor and the gray air will potentially annoy your neighbors. Smoking is actually the leading cause of fire deaths in the home — it has caused 40 percent of deaths from apartment fires in the United States. And yes, it’s completely legal for landlords to enforce a nonsmoking policy on the property.

Parties, Quiet Hours, and Guest Policies

Sure, it’s your right to have a few friends over whenever you’d like, but what about more than 50 of them for a huge masquerade rager that lasts until sunrise?

Probably not.

A lot of leases now include provisions for “quiet hours,” which are typically from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. Tenants also have the right to “quiet enjoyment,” which essentially means a peaceful atmosphere to call home. In California leases, it is an implied covenant. Your party might disturb that expectation and truly anger some of your neighbors.

But let’s say you know your neighbors are chill and don’t mind if that party rages on. If anyone from your shindig decides to stay over for a few nights, you might have to let your landlord know this. It sounds extreme, but it’s not unheard of. Many leases say guests can stay over for no more than 10 days in a six-month period, but you should check just in case.

Decorations, Adorning Your Front Door, and Door-to-Door Treats

Got your jack-o’-lanterns outside your door, spiderwebs in your windows, and bone-chilling skeletons hanging from your ceiling? Your creepy decor might be violating specific terms of your rental agreement. My own lease prohibits door and window trimmings that are viewable by other tenants, along with any decorations that sit outside the front door. You may need to get written permission if you’re putting more than a rug down in your digs, if your lease doesn’t specify what’s allowable in terms of decor or adornment.

If your kids are going trick-or-treating by knocking on your neighbors’ doors, you might want to ask your landlord if there are specific times set aside for the event or a certain cutoff time so the little goblins don’t show up too late. Nextdoor has a Treat Map on its app, so you can see which of your participating neighbors have baskets filled with candy to give.