A lease agreement is a legal document that explains the terms of a rental property. With the lease agreement by Lawrina, you can establish and agree on essential house rules that tenants and landlords should follow to avoid any lease disputes. Check out the lease agreement in PDF, fill out the critical information, and download your completed document.
Creating a thorough and effective lease agreement is an essential step for ensuring the safety of both parties involved in the rental process. The following is the information necessary to address to ensure that the lease agreement becomes a legally binding document.
What Is a Residential Lease Agreement?
A rental lease agreement template is a legal document explaining a rental property's terms. This lease agreement for a rental might stipulate house rules or other agreements that a tenant must follow. There are likely sections that explain how much a tenant owes when he or she pays rent, what 1 month’s rent is, and whether the agreement is an annual agreement that allows the person to live there for 1 year or a month-to-month contract.
Residential leases are usually binding for a long time. Every detail will affect your daily life. From pets to repair costs, it’s important to dive deeper into every detail before you sign.
A standard lease agreement will abide by state laws and have sections for the landlord and the tenant to sign or for the property manager and the tenant to sign.
Parties of the Residential Lease Agreement
Landlord –– This is where you list the person(s) who will serve as the landlord. This is the person or organization renting the property.
Tenants –– This is the list of people who will serve as tenants. Children under the age of 18 do not have to be listed, but any and all adults who will live in a rental property must be listed — even if they are not the primary tenant or paying the rent.
Names for all Parties –– Landlords and tenants must all be listed by name (except for tenants under the age of 18).
Property Description –– A description of the area being rented, its current condition, and any off-limits areas.
Lease Term –– Whether the lease is month-to-month, a 12-month lease, or longer.
Rent Amount and Due Date –– List the rent amount and when it is due. State how it is to be paid and any late fees that will be assessed.
Security Deposit –– Describe the amount of the security deposit, where it will be held, how and when it will be returned, and when the landlord can use it.
Repairs and Maintenance –– Describe the rules for notifying the landlord about necessary repairs and what parts of the property must be maintained by the tenant.
Types of Lease Term
There are two common types of rental lease agreements:
Fixed-term lease This agreement stipulates how long the deal lasts. Usually, it covers cases with extended rental agreements of multiple years. Sometimes, a fixed-term lease can be used for a shorter time such as six or eight months.
Periodic or month-to-month lease This legal document is designed for shorter rentals by the month. Either party can give 1 month’s notice before canceling, moving out, or finding a new tenant.
If you are over 18 and want to move into a new residential property, you will need a lease agreement form to clarify your legal responsibility for the lease, rent duration, and payments.
What Is the Difference Between a Lease and a Rental Agreement?
Whether you manage properties and rentals full-time or rent out a single property as an additional source of income, landlords and tenants are often expected to know all there is to know about real estate law. The question is, what's the difference between a lease and a rental agreement?
There is often confusion between the terms "lease agreement" and "rental agreement," but they refer to two distinct types of agreements. Both leases and rental agreements are legally binding contracts. However, they serve different purposes. We will discuss below the key differences between leases and rental agreements.
Who Needs a Residential Lease Agreement?
A landlord and tenant sign a lease agreement since it outlines tenancy conditions. A well-written, carefully considered, and worded lease contract protects both parties' best interests because neither of them may change the agreement without the written consent of the other.
For the property owner or representatives such as property managers and real estate agents overseeing residential properties on behalf of owners, the agreement helps safeguard their property rights. The owner or agent may include the lease period, rent amount, and security deposit clauses. Landlords may impose restrictions in the lease agreement, such as no smoking or pets, depending on the property's area.
On the other hand, the agreement protects the tenants right to occupy and use the property without the landlord's interference or breach of privacy. The contract also specifies the tenant's responsibility, including payment of security deposit and rent and observing use restrictions.
Why Would a Landlord Write a Rental Agreement?
A landlord writes a rental lease agreement to protect their legal and financial interests over a rental property. Some of the main reasons a landlord should have a contract in place include the following:
Having an agreement minimizes the chances of conflict and disagreement between the parties.
The agreement protects the landlord's legal and financial interests by establishing the length of tenancy, rent amount, and use restrictions.
It allows the landlord to recommend alternative dispute resolution mechanisms that are less costly and time-consuming in the agreement.
Provides a framework for the landlord to comply with local laws and engage with a tenant by clarifying expectations and consequences for non-compliance.
Why Do I Need a Residential Lease Agreement?
A lease agreement clearly outlines the parties' rights and responsibilities, enabling a positive relationship between the landlord and the tenant.
Besides protecting the interests of each party, the lease agreement serves the landlord as an instrumental tool for screening the suitability of a potential tenant. A robust contract may require the tenant to provide personal and financial information, such as employment history, income, and credit score. With this information, the landlord can check if the applicant maintains the minimum income requirement and credit status to meet rent obligations.
Furthermore, the agreement may articulate that the potential tenants provide references from previous landlords and employers to determine their suitability. By including screening criteria, requiring personal and financial information, and setting clear expectations and obligations for the tenancy, a well-drafted lease agreement can help landlords select the most suitable candidate for their property.
However, a poorly drafted lease agreement may attract tenants more likely to default on rent payments, resulting in financial losses and legal disputes for the landlord. Therefore, investing time and resources in creating a high-quality lease agreement is essential to successful property management.
How To Create a Residential Lease Agreement?
There are two types of lease agreements, and each of them has specific points to address:
Standard Lease Agreements
Several basic elements of a lease agreement differ based on the type of lease and the needs of the landlord and the renter. These elements include:
Contact information All adults living on the property should include this information, including the landlord.
Property details Include information about the property's address, square footage, amenities, and other details.
Lease specifics Let us know what type of lease it is, such as a residential lease, and what the term is, such as how long it will last. The last step is to have the lease signed by both parties.
Rent details The amount of monthly rent and the due date of when to pay the rent should be listed.
Rights and obligations Make sure that landlords and tenants know their rights, such as entry rights and notice rights.
Dispute resolution Provide an overview of how disputes over property or lease agreements can be resolved.
Deposit and fees Any additional fees or deposits should be listed.
Occupancy limits Tell us how many people will be able to live at the property and who will be able to live there specifically.
Restrictions Any restrictions, such as changing permanent fixtures or installing additional appliances, should be listed.
Pets Include information about pets on the property, including whether they are allowed.
Maintenance and repairs Provide a list of the landlord's services in terms of maintenance and repairs.
Utilities Identify which utilities need to be paid by whom.
When it comes to lease agreements, there’s such a thing as a grace period. This is the number of days that is allowed to postpone the payment date. But some leases have no grace period at all.
Comprehensive Lease Agreements
Certain leases require additional documentation, such as addenda, disclosures, and notices. Generally, disclosures are included with the initial lease, while addenda and notices may be added afterward.
Addendum Addendums are additions to leases, such as pet terms or charges to renters.
Disclosures Often, disclosures are required in order to ensure that renters are fully aware of all the aspects of the rental property. For example, lead paint could be present in an older home.
Notices An announcement is an official announcement, such as a renter giving notice that he or she won't renew the lease.
How To Write a Lease/Rental Agreement Form
When you are ready to write a blank agreement, or amend a sample PDF, include the following elements:
On the lease agreement template, include the legal names and addresses of both the tenant or a landlord who are the main parties in the contract. Ensure that the spelling of the names is consistent with legal identification (tenant) and proof of ownership documents (landlord). Such consistency ensures there is no confusion as to the identity of the parties.
Your lease agreement template may also have provisions for co-signers and guarantors. In this case, ensure that you also provide the legal names and addresses of these individuals consistent with identification documents.
This is also a good section for you to specify that any violation of this lease or rental agreement gives the landlord the right to terminate the tenancy for any and all tenants, not specifically the individual offender.
Specify in the relevant sections of the lease agreement template the type of property up for rent, including details such as the address, building or unit number, parking spots, garages, or other storage areas. If there are places on the property where a tenant is not allowed, this section also has to be mentioned.
The lease agreement template should also offer guidance on documenting any defects or existing damages on the property. Remember, the main aim of this section is to document the exact condition of the property and articulate permissible uses and restrictions. With this, holding the tenant responsible for violations or new damages is easy.
Stipulate the date the lease agreement template goes into legal effect and how long it is valid. You might have the start and expiration dates or information on when the lease converts to a different type.
You can work with lease agreement templates that are month-to-month, so the tenant and the landlord can cancel with 30 days' notice. You may also work with a yearly lease where you commit to renting the property for 1 year.
Specify when rent is due and how much it is. This is also a place for you to write out which payment methods are accepted and whether there is a grace period or a late payment fee.
In the lease agreement template, indicate the exact security deposit the tenants need to pay at the beginning of the lease. Typically the security deposit is the equivalent of one or two months of rent. Furthermore, this section of a lease agreement also establishes the conditions for refunding the deposit, indicating that the money will be used to pay fees for restoring the property to the condition the tenant found it.
Depending on the state of the residential space, the lease agreement may indicate if the deposit will earn interest and other rules on how the landlord can handle the money. For example, in California, security deposits don't accumulate interest. But, for a landlord to deduct money from the security deposit for repairs, they have to complete the repairs within three weeks of a tenant moving out. They are also to send the tenant the receipts for those repairs and any remaining money from that security deposit.
Repairs and Maintenance
Finally, you need a section in the lease agreement that clearly explains the tenant’s responsibility to cover the cost of repairing damages. In the lease agreement, there also has to be a requirement where the tenant notifies the landlord about issues with the property so that the landlord can take action for necessary maintenance.
For example, if your rental property is located in a community with a homeowners’ association that requires weed abatement, you might add into your lease agreement template that a tenant must notify you whenever weed abatement is required so that you can pay to have it completed in a timely fashion.
It shouldn’t be forbidden to invite guests over. However, there is a line between a guest and when a frequent guest becomes a part-time roommate. According to most guest policies, it’s common to limit 1 person's stay to no more than 10 days in a 6-month period.
How To Use a Residential Lease Agreement Form
It is common to use a residential lease agreement form for many situations. If you are renting a space of any kind which will serve as your primary residence, or you have a space to rent, you will need to create this document.
Common Use Cases
It is common to use a residential lease agreement document when renting:
A mobile home;
A room in a home;
Or any other residential space like a yurt, a trailer, or a shack.
When Not To Use the Residential Lease Agreement
You should not use a residential lease agreement if you are a family member under the age of 18. As a child, you do not need a residential lease agreement form to live with your family. Similarly, you should not use a residential lease agreement if you are purchasing the home because this requires a separate form.
Knowing the state laws where you are signing a residential lease agreement is essential. For example, in New York, Texas, and Pennsylvania, lease agreements do not have to be notarized because they are treated the same as standard contracts.
In Ohio, if you sign a lease agreement for three years or longer or have a lease that converts automatically and extends more than three years, it might require notarization.
In the state of Washington, leases that last more than 12 months must be notarized to be valid. If you have a lease that restricts the landlord from increasing rent during the length of the agreement, that also has to be notarized to be legally valid.
Below see the table of state-specific landlord-tenant laws across the U.S.
Ala. Code §§ 35-9-1 to 35-9-100
Alaska Stat. §§ 34.03.010 to 34.03.380
Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 12-1171 to 12-1183; 33-301 to 36-1637
Ark. Code Ann. §§ 18-16-101 to 18-17-913
Cal. Civ. Code §§ 789.3 to 827; 1925 to 2079.10a
Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-40-101 to 13-40.1-102
Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. §§ 47a-1 to 47a-74
Del. Code Ann. Tit. 25, Part III, Chapters 51-59, §§ 5101 to 5907
Fla. Stat. Ann. Title 6, Chapter 83 §§ 83.40 to 83.683
Ga. Code Ann. §§ 44-7-1 to 44-7-81
Haw. Rev. Stat., Title 28, §§ 521-1 to 521-83
Idaho Code, Title 55, Chapter 3 §§55-301 to 55-308
765 Ill. Comp. Stat. Chapter 765 §§ 705/0.01 to 755/999
Ind. Code Ann. §§ 32, Art. 31
Iowa Code Ann. Title XIV § 562A
Kan. Stat. Ann. Chapter 58, Art. 25
Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title XXXII, Chapter 383
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 9 §§ 9:3251 to 9:3261.2
Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 14, Part 7, Chapter 710 §§ 14:6021 to 14:6030
Md. Code Ann. Title 8, Subtitles 1-5 §§ 8-101 to 8-604
Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. Part II, title I, chapter 186, section 15 b
Mich. Comp. Laws §§ 554.131 to 554.139
Minn. Stat. Ann. §§ 500-515B; 504B
Miss. Code Ann. Title 89, Chapter 7 §§ 89-7-1 to 89-8-29
Mo. Rev. Stat. Title XXIX, §§ 441.005 to 535.300
Mont. Code Ann. Title 70, Chapter 24 §§ 70-24-101 to 70-27-117
Neb. Rev. Stat. Chapter 69 §§ 69-2302 to 69-2314
Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title 10, Chapter 118A
N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. Title XLVIII §§ 477:4-g to 540:29
N.J. Stat. Ann. Title 46, sections 46:8:45-46:8:49.1
N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 47-8-8 to 47-8-51
N.Y. Real Prop. Law Art. 7 §§ 220 to 238; Real Prop. Acts §§ 701 to 768
N.C. Gen. Stat. Chapter 42
N.D. Cent. Code Title 47 §§ 47-06-04; 47-16
Ohio Rev. Code Ann. Title 53, Chapter 5321 §§ 5321.01 to 5321.19
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is a lease cancellable?
Leases are either cancellable or noncancellable. A cancellable lease enables the lessee or the lessor to terminate the rental period without consequences and extra fees. A noncancellable lease prevents either party from terminating the lease before the agreed end date. The deposit and all related expenses are nonrefundable.
In rental agreements, landlords should specify the cancellation period so that tenants can recover any fees that they are legally entitled to.
Do I need a residential lease agreement to rent a room in my house?
Your residential lease agreement helps specify the lease rules and regulations for your tenants. If you wish to rent out a room in your house where other lessees live, the residential lease agreement is essential to equally set forth the lease terms for your property. You can also avoid misunderstandings between tenants and have available the detailed lease agreement to address any issues.
What happens at the end of a fixed term lease?
When the lease is about to end, the lessee should decide whether he or she wants to continue leasing the property or move out. If the tenant wishes to stay, the landlord can agree to a “periodic tenancy,” in which the lessee pays rent for as long as he or she continues living on the property. Another option is to sign a new rental lease agreement in which both parties renegotiate and agree on a new lease period and other relevant terms and conditions. The lessor may increase the rent in such cases, so it is critical to have a clear discussion on the terms before signing the new rental agreement.
If the lessee decides to vacate the property on a scheduled date, he or she should notify the landlord at least a month or up to three months in advance, as agreed upon by the parties. With this type of proper notice, the deposit should be timely refunded, absent any other factors, such as damage to the property.
Can a rental agreement be used as proof of address?
If you need to submit a document verifying your place of residence, your rental lease agreement will typically be acceptable. The lease agreement should be reflective of your current living situation, so make sure it is updated and complies with your state law regulations. It is important to verify that the address reflected on the lease agreement is accurate before submitting a copy of it for residential verification purposes.