The first thing I tell people (clients, friends, family, whoever is asking) is that there is no such thing as a standard lease. There certainly are key clauses and specific language which should be in every lease, but because a lease is a business mechanism, there are going to be key varying clauses.
From time to time, I will be told that a perspective or potential tenant received a lease which says “Standard Minnesota Residential Lease” and there isn’t really any need to review. I try to quickly point out that there should always be some room for discussion. Because of the economy Landlords are indeed being more flexible. Sometimes a simple change such as moving rent payments to coincide with work paycheck distribution schedules or providing an option to move out if a tenant decides to buy/build a house can be drafted into a lease.
The ultimate goal of every lease I draft is to not ever have to rely upon the lease. The process of drafting a lease or negotiating a lease is to go over all details so as to prevent problems from arising in the future. In a carefully negotiated lease both parties will be more likely to abide by their responsibilities and be less eager to sue. Although there is some cost to reviewing leases, the money, time and aggravation saved in the long term is worth every penny!