A Lease Agreement (or rental agreement) is a document that explains the terms under which a tenant rents a residential or commercial property from a landlord.
Lease agreements are legally binding contracts that explain the obligations and rights of the tenant and landlord. Even if you’re renting out a room in your house to a friend or family member, you need a lease agreement for legal protection if you encounter problems with your tenants.
Lease Agreements By Type
Here are some free lease agreement templates by type:
Residential Lease Agreement Forms [For Landlords]
Sublease Agreement Forms [For Tenants]
Commercial/Other Lease Agreement Forms
Additionally, you can end an existing lease with a lease termination letter or extend a rental for another term with a lease renewal.
Lease Agreements By State
Find your state-specific residential lease agreement below.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
How to Write (Fill Out) a Lease/Rental Agreement
Here’s how to write a lease:
1. Name the parties
A simple rental agreement form must name the parties signing the lease and where they live. First, you should write down:
- the landlord or property management company and their current address
- the tenant or tenants and their current address
2. Describe the premises
The “premises” are the exact address and type of rented property, such as an apartment, house, or condominium.
3. Define the term of the lease
The “term” is the length of time a tenant will rent the listed property. A standard lease agreement should detail when the lease term begins and ends.
Furthermore, a lease can either be fixed-term or month-to-month.
- A fixed-term rental lease means the agreement is set for a predetermined or fixed period. This lease expires on the end date listed in the agreement (usually up to 6 months, one year, or two years from the start date).
- A month-to-month rental lease means the agreement is for one month with no defined end date. It continues monthly until either the landlord or tenant terminates the agreement.
4. Set how much rent is owed
A lease agreement must explicitly list the monthly rental amount and outline the consequences of late rent.
It’s up to the landlord to decide how much to charge for rent, but the cost is usually comparable to other properties within the same area.
In addition, standard rent control laws may limit the amount you can charge for rent. Check your local rent control ordinance to ensure your lease agreement complies with those regulations.
5. Assign a security deposit amount
A security deposit is a set amount of money usually collected at the beginning of the lease.
6. Finalize the lease
Once you finish discussing the details with your tenant, remember to:
- Print – print at least two copies of the rental lease for you and the other party
- Sign – sign and date the lease agreement form (both the tenant(s) and landlord)
- Save – file a hard copy of the signed document safely and consider scanning an electronic copy for extra safekeeping.
Legal Information & Guides for Landlords
Whether you’re an experienced or first-time landlord, you can use these resources and guides to understand in simple terms what the law says about leases and rental contracts:
- How to Lease a Residential Property [Step by Step]
- Common Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums
- Landlord and Tenant Laws by State
- Rental/Lease Agreement Glossary
How to Lease a Residential Property [Step by Step]
Follow the steps below to rent your property easily:
1. Show your rental unit to tenants
The first step in renting out a house or an apartment is to allow people to view the property. If tenants like the property and want to move in, they will likely inquire about the rent amount.
Hosting viewings can be inconvenient if you have multiple properties, so many landlords hire a property management company to show their rental units to potential tenants.
2. Give the tenant a rental application form to fill out
Once you agree on the rent price, the tenant should fill out a rental application. This form helps the landlord screen the tenant, and it includes information such as the applicants:
- Current address
- Place of employment
- Income level
- Rental references
The tenant can confirm their workplace using an employment verification letter. This document is easy for renters to show proof of income.
Typically, landlords require a small, non-refundable fee from the tenant to process the rental application.
3. Run a background and credit check
After reviewing the tenant’s application, you should run a background check (and/or a credit check).
A background check shows if the applicant has a prior criminal history, and a credit check confirms whether the applicant has good or bad credit.
Bad credit may signify poor financial planning resulting in missed rent payments.
Although these checks help you avoid dealing with bad tenants, you shouldn’t base your decision to rent the property solely on the results.
Many states have strict guidelines on tenant discrimination. Refusing tenancy because of minor criminal offenses or bad credit may justifiably violate federal anti-discrimination law.
4. Check the tenant’s references
Next, you need to check the tenant’s references in their rental application form mentioned in step 2.
You should contact the references and ask questions such as:
- Did the applicant pay their rent and utilities on time?
- Were there any noise complaints at the tenant’s previous apartment?
- Have the police ever been called to the tenant’s last rental unit?
- Would you consider renting to this person again?
Rental references are usually from current or previous landlords and can give insight into the tenant’s character and behavior.
5. Create a lease agreement
Once you’re happy to rent your property to a tenant, you must create a lease/rental agreement in the correct format.
You make a lease agreement by writing it yourself from scratch, filling in a blank lease agreement template that includes all the necessary clauses, or using a lease agreement builder to create a lease specific to your property.
Remember to include the following:
- The move-in date
- The monthly rent payment amount
- When the rent is due each month
- What will be done about late rent payments
- Who should pay or manage the utilities
- The penalties, if any, for breaking a lease
After creating the lease contract and reviewing everything with your new tenant, both parties sign the agreement. You may need to calculate prorated rent depending on when the tenant moves in.
6. Hand over the keys
Once the lease agreement is completed and signed, give the tenant the keys to move into the property.
Remember to conduct a unit walkthrough alongside the tenant to finish the process. Bring a rental inspection checklist and document the property’s condition before the tenant moves in.
Common Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums
Your lease agreement may require additional disclosures and addendums because each rental property is different, and laws vary by state. Attached separately to your lease agreement, these documents inform new or current tenants about issues with your property and their rights.
Download the most common disclosures and addendums below in MS Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF format:
- Asbestos Disclosure (Word) – notifies tenants of asbestos at the property (required for properties built before 1979)
- Bed Bug Addendum (Word) – explains how both parties should act in the event of a bedbug infestation
- Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector Addendum (Word)– states whether the landlord will provide carbon monoxide/smoke detectors and how the tenant is responsible for keeping them in good condition.
- Death in Rental Unit Disclosure (Word) – informs the tenant if anyone previously died in the property.
- Disclosure of Lead-Based Hazards (PDF) – notifies tenants of the existence of lead-based paint or other materials (required for properties built before 1978)
- Flood Hazard Area Disclosure (Word) – states whether the property is in a special flood hazard area.
- Foreclosure Notice (Word) – the tenant should provide this during the lease if you need to explain that the rental agreement terminates on a specified date.
- Illegal Substance Contamination Disclosure (Word) – notifies the tenant if parts of the property have been contaminated by the manufacturing or storing of an illegal substance (such as methamphetamine)
- Mold Disclosure (Word) – notifies the tenant that the property may contain mold and whether the landlord will fix it.
- Notice of Abandoned Personal Property (Word) – tells the tenant that they left something in the unit when they moved out and need to collect it before it’s thrown out.
- Pet Addendum (Word) – a pet addendum states the rules regarding pets at the property.
- Shared Utilities Disclosure (Word) – explains how utilities are calculated and shared between multiple residents.
- Smoking Lease Addendum (PDF) – a smoking lease addendum tells the tenant whether they can smoke tobacco or marijuana on the property.
Landlord and Tenant Laws by State
Federal law recognizes that landlords and tenants have individual legal rights and obligations.
Find out what the law in your state says about your rights using the table below, or check the following specific laws for your property:
State Laws on Landlord’s Access to Rental Property
Tenants have the right to privacy when they rent a property. However, there may be reasons why a landlord needs to access the property, such as for maintenance or inspections.
Nearly every state requires a landlord to give advance notice to their tenants before accessing a rental unit. Use the table below to check how much notice you need to give in your state and check the relevant law:
|State||Advance Notice Requirement||Law|
|Alabama||2 days||§ 35-9A-303|
|Alaska||1 day||§ 34.03.140|
|Arizona||2 days||§ 33-1343|
|California||- 1 day
- 2 days for move-out rental inspection
|Civil Code 1954|
|Connecticut||Reasonable written or verbal notice||§ 47a-16|
|Delaware||2 days||Title 25, Chapter 55 §5509|
|Florida||12 hours||§ 83.53|
|Hawaii||2 days||§ 521-53|
|Indiana||Reasonable written or verbal notice||§ 32-31-5-6|
|Iowa||1 day||§ 562A.19|
|Kansas||Reasonable written or verbal notice||§ 58-2557|
|Kentucky||2 days||§ 383.615|
|Maine||1 day||Chapter 710, Title 14 § 6025|
|Massachusetts||Reasonable written or verbal notice||Chapter 186, Section 15B|
|Minnesota||Reasonable written or verbal notice||§ 504B.211|
|Montana||1 day||§ 70-24-312|
|Nebraska||1 day||§ 76-1423|
|Nevada||1 day||§ 118A.330|
|New Hampshire||Reasonable written or verbal notice||§ 540-A:3|
|New Jersey||1 day||N.J.A.C 5:10-1.1|
|New Mexico||1 day||§ 47-8-24|
|New York||Not required||N/A|
|North Carolina||Not required||N/A|
|North Dakota||Reasonable written or verbal notice||§ 47-16-07.03|
|Ohio||1 day||§ 5321.04|
|Oklahoma||1 day||Title 41 § 41-128|
|Oregon||1 day||ORS 90.322|
|Rhode Island||2 days||§ 34-18-26|
|South Carolina||1 day||§ 27-40-530|
|South Dakota||1 day||§ 43-32-32|
|Tennessee||1 day||§ 66-28-403|
|Utah||1 day||Title 57 Chapter 22|
|Vermont||2 days||9 V.S.A. § 4460|
|Washington||- 2 days with written or verbal notice
- 1 day for the intent to show the unit
|West Virginia||Not required||N/A|
|Wisconsin||"...advance notice and at reasonable times"||§ 705.05|
Security Deposit Laws
Each state regulates the maximum amount of money a landlord can collect as a security deposit from a tenant. Some states also require landlords to return security deposits to tenants within a certain time (potentially with interest).
Usually, a landlord can deduct the following costs from the tenant’s security deposit:
- Unpaid rent
- Cleaning costs
- Key replacement costs
- Cost to repair damages above ordinary wear and tear
- Any other amount legally allowable under the lease
Use the table below to see the maximum security deposit limit in your state, whether it needs to be held in a separate account, and how much time you have to refund it after the lease ends:
|State||Maximum Deposit Limit||Held in Separate Account||Refund||Law|
|AL||1 month's rent||Not required||35 days to return deposit||§ 35-9A-201|
|AK||2 months' rent, unless monthly rent is greater than $2000||Escrow account required||- 14 days to return deposit
- 30 days to return deposit if tenant doesn't provide proper notice
|AZ||1½ months' rent, unless tenant volunteers to pay more||Not required||14 days to return deposit||§ 33-1321|
|AR||2 months' rent unless landlord owns fewer than 6 rental units||Not required||60 days to return deposit||§ 18-16-304, 18-16-305|
|CA||2 months rent (if unfurnished) or 3 months' rent (if furnished)||Not required||21 days to return deposit||Civil Code 1950.5|
|CO||No regulation||Not required||- 30 days to return deposit unless otherwise stated in the lease
- 60 days maximum if not stated in the lease
|§ 38-12-103, 38-12-104|
|CT||- 2 months' rent if tenant is under 62 years old
- 1 month's rent if tenant is over 62 years old
|Interest-bearing account required||30 days to return deposit||§ 47a-21 to 47a-22a|
|DE||1 month's rent for 1-year lease agreements (if unfurnished)||Escrow account required||30 days to return deposit||Title 25, Chapter 53|
|FL||No regulation||Interest-bearing or non interest-bearing escrow account required (landlord's choice)||- 15 days to return deposit
- 30 days if any amount is retained
|GA||No regulation||Escrow account required except if landlord owns fewer than 11 rental units (unless managed by a third party)||30 days to return deposit||§ 44-7-31 to 44-7-37|
|HI||1 month's rent||Not required||14 days to return deposit||§ 521-44|
|ID||No regulation||Not required||- 21 days to return deposit unless otherwise stated in the lease
- 30 days maximum if not stated in the lease
|IL||No regulation||Not required||45 days to return deposit||765 ILCS 705/|
|IN||No regulation||Not required||- 21 days to return deposit unless otherwise stated in the lease
- 30 days maximum if not stated in the lease
|IA||2 months' rent||Federally-insured account required||30 days to return deposit||§ 562A.12|
|KS||1 month's rent (if unfurnished) or 1½ months' rent (if furnished)||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 58-2550|
|KY||No regulation||Escrow account required||30 days to return deposit||§ 383.580|
|LA||No regulation||Not required||30 days to return deposit||RS 9:3251|
|ME||2 months' rent||Not required||30 days to return deposit||Chapter 710-A|
|MD||2 months' rent||Escrow account required||45 days to return deposit||§ 8-203|
|MA||1 month's rent||Interest-bearing escrow account required||30 days to return deposit||Chapter 186, Section 15B|
|MI||1½ months' rent||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 554.602 to 554.615|
|MN||No regulation||Not required||21 days to return deposit||§ 504B.178|
|MS||No regulation||Not required||45 days to return deposit||§ 89-8-21|
|MO||2 months' rent||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 535.300|
|MT||No regulation||Not required||- 10 days to return deposit
- 30 days if any amount is retained
|§ 70-25-201 to 70-25-206|
|NE||1 month's rent||Not required||14 days to return deposit||§ 17-1416|
|NV||3 months' rent||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 118A.242 to 118A.250|
|NH||1 month's rent or $100 (whichever is greater)||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 540-A:6 to 540-A:8|
|NJ||1½ months' rent||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 46:8-19|
|NM||- 1 month's rent for lease terms less than 1 year
- No limit for lease terms greater than 1 year
|Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 47-8-18|
|NY||No regulation||Not required||14 days to return deposit||Emergency Tenant Protection Act 576/74|
|NC||- 2 weeks' rent for week-to-week lease agreements
- 1½ months' rent for month-to-month lease agreements
- 2 months' rent for yearly leases
|Trust account or bank bond required||- 30 days to return deposit
- 60 days to return deposit if damages exceed 1 month's rent
|Article 6 Tenant Security Deposit Act|
|ND||1 month's rent||Escrow account required||30 days to return deposit||§ 47-16-07.1|
|OH||No regulation||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 5321.16|
|OK||No regulation||Federally-insured escrow account required||30 days to return deposit||Title 41 §41-115|
|OR||No regulation||Not required||31 days to return deposit||ORS 90.300|
|PA||2 months' rent||Escrow account required for deposits greater than $100 or any amount held for longer than 2 years||30 days to return deposit||Landlord Tenant Act Section 511-512|
|RI||1 month's rent||Not required||20 days to return deposit||§ 34-18-19|
|SC||No regulation||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 27-40-410|
|SD||1 month's rent||Not required||14 days to return deposit||§ 43-32-6.1, § 43-32-24|
|TN||No regulation||Escrow account required||30 days to return deposit||§ 66-28-301|
|TX||No regulation||Not required||30 days to return deposit||§ 92.101 - 92.110|
|UT||No regulation||Not required||30 days to return deposit||Title 57 Chapter 17|
|VT||No regulation||Not required||14 days to return deposit||9 V.S.A. § 4461|
|VA||2 months' rent||Not required||45 days to return deposit||§ 55.1-1226|
|WA||No regulation||Escrow account required||21 days to return deposit||§ 59.18.253, 59.18.260 - 59.18.285|
|WV||No regulation||Not required||60 days to return deposit||Chapter 37 Article 6A|
|WI||No regulation||Not required||21 days to return deposit||ATCP § 134.06|
|WY||No regulation||Not required||- 30 days to return deposit
- 60 days if any amount is retained
Rental/Lease Agreement Glossary
Here are some helpful definitions for the legal language commonly used in lease and rental agreement forms:
- Access: the right to enter a property.
- Accidents: artificial or naturally occurring events that may damage a property (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.).
- Alterations: modifications made to a property.
- Appliances: standard home equipment like a refrigerator or dishwasher.
- Assignment: the transfer of an interest in a lease.
- Attorney Fees: a payment made to a lawyer.
- Condemnation: the government seizing private property for a public purpose, such as highway construction.
- Default: when a breach of contract occurs and persists, such as not paying rent or violating other terms of a rental lease agreement.
- Furniture: standard home equipment such as couches, tables, beds, etc.
- Guarantor / Co-Signer: someone accountable for paying rent if the tenant cannot do so.
- Guests: short-term occupants of a rental property.
- Joint and several liability: two or more people are independently held accountable for damages, regardless of who is at fault.
- Late Rent Fee: an additional, reasonable sum of money paid by a tenant after making a rent payment past the due date listed in the lease agreement.
- Noise Policy: a provision of a lease agreement outlining “quiet hours” in the apartment building, condominium, or neighborhood.
- Notice: a written announcement of some fact or observation.
- Option to Purchase: the tenant’s right to purchase the rental property later.
- Parking: designated spaces where the tenant can keep their vehicles.
- Pet Policy: the permission or restriction of a tenant’s ability to have an animal in a rental property.
- Property Maintenance: preserving a rental unit and who is responsible. Such as cutting the grass, removing the garbage, or unclogging the kitchen and bathroom drains.
- Renewal: a tenant’s option to continue the lease.
- Renter’s Insurance: a paid policy that protects personal belongings against theft or damage.
- Severability: a clause of a lease stating that if one part of the agreement is invalid for any reason, the rest of the lease is still enforceable.
- Smoking Policy: the permission or restriction of a tenant’s smoking ability inside rental property.
- Sublet: a temporary housing arrangement between current and new tenants to rent all or part of the currently leased property. The subletting period must be for less than the lease term.
- Successor: someone who takes over the obligations of a lease from a tenant or landlord.
- Utilities: a public or private service supplying electricity, water, gas, or trash collection to a property.
- Waterbed: a water-filled furnishing used to sleep and not typically permitted in most rental properties
How to Write a Lease/Rental Agreement
Follow the steps below to write a lease or rental agreement.
Step 1 – Provide Landlord and Tenant Names
1. Landlord. Write the landlord’s full name or company name, depending on whether the landlord is an individual or an entity.
2. Tenant. Enter the tenant’s full name or company name, depending on whether the tenant is an individual or entity. If there is more than one tenant, enter the name of each additional tenant.
Step 2 – Describe the Premises
3. Premises. Describe the rental. Specify the type of residential property being rented, such as an apartment or house. If none of the options on the form describe the property type, write it in.
Enter the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and parking spaces (if parking is included with the property). Write the street (physical) address of the rented property, including the apartment/unit number (if applicable), city, state, and zip code.
4. Storage. Specify whether or not the rental property includes storage space. If yes, describe the storage space.
5. Furnishings. State whether or not the rental property includes furnishings. If yes, provide a list of the furnishings included with the rental.
6. Additional Description. If any additional information would help describe the property, include it here.
Step 3 – Identify Lease Term
7. Term. Note whether the lease term is for a fixed set of time or if it will continue on a month-to-month basis. The term is when the landlord will rent the property to the tenant.
8. Fixed Lease. If this is a fixed lease, provide the start and end date for the lease term.
9. Month-to-Month Lease. If this is a month-to-month lease, provide only the start date of the lease.
Step 4 – Write Rent Details
10. Rent. Specify the dollar amount of the monthly rent payment, the day the rent is due (e.g., the 5th day), and the payment method.
11. Proration. State whether the rent shall be prorated for any lease term of less than one month.
12. Bounced Checks. Specify the amount the landlord charges for any bounced checks.
Step 5 – Fill in Guaranty Information
13. Guaranty. Note whether or not a guarantor is required for the tenant under this lease. If yes, provide the guarantor’s full name and address.
Step 6 – Describe Any Late Fees
14. Late Fee. Specify whether or not the landlord charges a late fee if the rent is not paid on time. If yes, specify the day of the month the rent will be considered late and the number of days for any grace period.
If a late fee is assessed, select whether the late fee will be a set dollar amount (including the amount) or a percentage amount.
Step 7 – Enter Utilities Details
15. Utilities. State if the landlord is responsible for any utilities and, if so, indicate which utilities (typically, the tenant is responsible for all utilities).
Step 8 – Note Security Deposit
16. Security Deposit. Provide the dollar amount of the security deposit the tenant shall pay the landlord.
17. Return of Deposit and Interest. Note the number of days after the end of this agreement that the landlord will return the security deposit (less any amounts under this section) to the tenant.
Specify whether or not the security deposit shall be held in an interest-bearing account. *Note that most states have laws regarding security deposits, including the amount, where the landlord saves the deposit, how the landlord can use it, and when the landlord must return it to the tenant.
Step 9 – Note Use of Premises
18. Use of Premises. The tenant and the tenant’s immediate family will use the property for residential purposes. In addition, the tenant is responsible for any damage to the property caused by their guests.
Provide for any additional guest or visitor policy.
Step 10 – Identify the Condition of the Premises
19. Condition of Premises. The tenant agrees to the current condition of the appliances, fixtures, and furnishings (if applicable) other than any exceptions added here.
Step 11 – Maintenance and Repairs
20. Maintenance and Repairs. The tenant agrees to maintain the property and not remove any appliances, fixtures, and furnishings (if applicable).
If the property has an outside area or grounds, then the tenant also agrees to maintain those.
Step 12 – Choose the Rules and Regulations Option
21. Rules and Regulations. Specify whether or not there are separate rules and regulations for the rental property.
If yes, a sample “Exhibit A – Rules and Regulations” is included at the end of this agreement for your reference.
Step 13 – Note Military Clause Option
22. Military Clause. State whether or not the tenant may terminate the lease agreement early for activity duty in the U.S. armed forces.
Step 14 – Choose the Smoking Option
23. Smoking. Note whether or not the landlord permits or prohibits smoking on the property.
Step 15 – Enter Pet Option
24. Pets. Specify whether or not tenants can keep pets on the property. If yes, state the type of pet(s) and the amount of any pet deposit.
Step 16 – Choose Inspection Checklist Option
25. Inspection Checklist. Note whether or not the tenant must complete an inspection checklist at the time of move-in.
If yes, a sample “Exhibit B – Rental Inspection Checklist” is included at the end of this agreement for your reference.
Step 17 – Note Renter’s Insurance Option
26. Renter’s Insurance. State whether or not the tenant must obtain a renter’s insurance policy.
If yes, the policy must have at least $100,000 of personal liability coverage, and the landlord must be named as an interested party or additional insured.
Step 18 – Choose the Assignment and Subletting Option
27. Assignment and Subletting. Specify whether or not the tenant can assign or sublease any part of the property.
If allowed, specify whether the tenant must obtain the landlord’s written consent to assign or sublease.
Step 19 – Fill in Default Details
28. Default. In the event of default (other than failure to pay rent), the landlord may give the tenant notice and the opportunity to correct the default.
Provide the number of days the tenant has to correct the default. If the default is the tenant’s failure to pay rent, provide the number of days after receipt of the landlord’s notice that the landlord can terminate this agreement.
*Note most states have laws regarding the amount of notice a landlord must give a tenant for failure to pay rent or violations of lease terms.
Step 20 – Choose the Lead Disclosure Option
29. Lead Disclosure. If the property was built before 1978, the landlord must disclose whether or not there are known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards on the property.
A “Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards” is included at the end of this agreement for your reference.
Step 21 – Enter Notices Information
30. Notices. All notices must be in writing. Provide the address where the landlord and tenant should send notices.
Step 22 – Fill in Governing Law State
31. State Law. Provide the state’s laws that will govern the construction of this agreement.
Step 23 – Write Disputes Details
32. Disputes. If there is a dispute, specify whether the dispute will be resolved through court litigation, binding arbitration, mediation, or mediation then arbitration.
Step 24 – Write Miscellaneous Terms and Information
33. Miscellaneous. Note any other provisions not already included in this agreement.
Sample Residential Lease Agreement [& Forms by State]
The following standard residential lease agreement works for all states except California, Florida, and Washington, DC.
View our filled-out rental lease example to see a completed residential lease agreement.
Use these free printable lease agreement templates or create a customized document using our easy step-by-step builder.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Is a Lease?
A lease is a legally binding contract used when a landlord (the “lessor“) rents out a property to a tenant (the “lessee“).
This written agreement states the rental terms, such as how long the tenant will rent the property and how much they will pay, in addition to the repercussions for breaking the agreement.
A lease is also commonly called a lease agreement, a rental agreement, a rental contract, a lease form, a rental lease agreement, an apartment lease, a tenancy agreement, and a house rental agreement.
Why Do I Need a Lease Agreement?
You need a lease agreement because it explains your responsibilities as a landlord, sets rules for the tenants living in your property, and is often required by state law. A lease agreement helps you avoid disputes with your tenants and fix problems when they arise.
Suppose you rent out a property but don’t use a lease agreement. In that case, you could lose rent money, be liable for illegal activities on the property, receive penalties for unpaid utility costs, or spend a lot on property damage repairs and lawyer fees. Anyone renting a home, land, or commercial building should have a lease agreement.
All adult tenants must be given a copy of the lease agreement after signing it. Landlords and property managers should also keep a copy on file.
How Do I Rent Out a Room in My House?
You rent out a room in your house by using a lease agreement stating you’re renting out a room, not the entire property. If you’re a tenant living in a rental property, you can sublet a room to another tenant using a room rental agreement.
A standard residential lease and a room rental agreement allow you to establish quiet hours, times guests can visit, how to divide utility payments, and rules regarding pets, smoking, and parking.
Both parties sign the agreement to rent a room, and the landlord collects a security deposit from the tenant before handing over the keys.
What’s the Difference Between a Lease and a Rental Agreement?
The difference between a lease and a rental agreement is the duration of the contract. Lease agreements are typically long-term (12 to 24 months), whereas rental agreements are usually short-term (a few weeks or months).
If you decide whether a lease or rent is best for you, remember that a lease agreement provides more security, but a rental agreement offers more flexibility.
What Are My Responsibilities as a Landlord?
Your responsibilities as a landlord include the following:
- Repairing and maintaining the normal wear and tear of appliances like the air conditioner or heater.
- Respect a tenant’s right to “quiet enjoyment” (living without disturbances). For example, not making unnecessary visits to the property and dealing with problems that cause noise (such as dogs barking).
- Provide a safe and clean home to the tenant for the lease term. Examples include getting rid of mold, resolving water damage, and fixing ventilation problems.
- Return the tenant’s security deposit if the tenant treats the property respectfully, and the rental is in good condition at the end of the lease term.
- Give the tenant advance notice when you need to enter the premises to fix something or show someone the property.
Landlords’ responsibilities differ according to state landlord-tenant laws, which describe how a landlord should handle access to the property, security deposits, and evictions.
What Happens if a Tenant Violates a Lease?
If a tenant violates a lease, the landlord may try to resolve the problem by giving the tenant a chance to fix it (unless the violation is major, such as using the property to sell or manufacture illegal drugs). If the issue is not resolved within a specific period (as set by state law), the landlord can begin eviction to remove the tenant.
Common lease violations include unpaid rent and utility bills, damage to the property, and the tenant breaking the law.
What Should I Include in a Lease Agreement?
You should include the following information and clauses in a lease agreement:
- Names of all tenants: write the names of every adult living on the property.
- Term: State the lease’s duration and whether it’s for a fixed term or will automatically renew.
- Rent: set the amount of money the tenant will pay to live in the property and which day of the month the tenant will pay the rent.
- Premises: describe the property and where it is located.
- Security deposit: assign an amount of money the tenant will give the landlord to hold in case of any damages
Depending on your property and its location, you may need to include some common disclosure and addendums that address specific situations such as smoking or pets.