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Learn more about Lease Agreement

A Lease Agreement is a legally binding tenant-landlord contract. These contracts are helpful whether you're a tenant, property owner, property manager or simply a person who wants to rent part of your own home.

  • You're a property owner or manager leasing residential property to a tenant.
  • You're a homeowner, and you want to lease a portion of your home to a tenant.

(If you need a different type of Lease Agreement, see Other Types of Lease Agreements)

Residential Lease Agreement, Rental Contract, Lease Contract

As either a tenant or a property manager, there are many legal details to consider when entering a Residential Lease Agreement. A Lease Agreement organizes all aspects of your lease arrangement in one document, outlining the tenant(s) and landlord's rights and obligations. With a signed Lease Agreement, rental relationships begin with a clear understanding of the lease arrangement and both parties have the document to refer to later should questions arise. Lease Contracts for all 50 states can be made using Rocket Lawyer and contracts can be shared and signed online if needed.

Lease agreements can be extremely basic or as detailed as needed. Most include the basics such as property details and the amount of rent due.

Our customizable Lease Agreements include standard provisions, like:

  • The duration of the lease and the terms of renewal
  • The names and contact information for tenant(s) and property managers
  • The required payment and security deposit
  • The rent schedule and payment due dates
  • How and where to send payments
  • Who's responsible for which utilities
  • Any tenant amenities like parking or gym access
  • Guest and pet policies
  • Penalties for late rent
  • Conditions for early termination
  • Property damage clause

We also give you the option of attaching legal descriptions or sketches of the property. Some property managers may even choose to collect images at the move-in time to help limit potential damage disputes.

Under state laws, the landlord and tenant will have set responsibilities. The landlord, for example, will usually have to take care of repairs to ensure a property is habitable, while the tenant will be required to pay rent and some (if not all) of the utilities.

But since every home or apartment is different, a generic fill-in-the-blanks Lease Agreement probably won't suit your needs. That's why our step-by-step document interview gives you a wide range of options when creating your Lease Agreement.

Our rental lease interview will guide you through the process of creating a customized Lease Agreement, but it will be easier if you collect the information required in advance.

Here are some of the key details and provisions to consider:

General Property Information
Every Lease Agreement form should have the address of the property, as well as the names of the tenant(s) and landlord. You can also describe the property or attach a floor plan or schematic to your contract.

Lease Property Maintenance Information
Some landlords choose to take care of maintenance requests themselves, while others utilize building supervisors or trusted contractors. In our Lease Agreement interview, you have the option to include maintenance contact persons and their contact information. In most states, it's required that a landlord pays for routine repairs not caused by tenant neglect or destruction.

Security Deposit Details
It's customary practice to ask for a fixed sum (separate from rent) prior to when tenants move in as collateral, in case they fail to pay rent or cause property damage. This is commonly referred to as a "security deposit." Most often, this sum is collected before the tenant moves in and usually amounts to the equivalent of one or two month's rent. You will need to return this amount when your tenant moves out minus agreed upon fees such as cleaning fees or damage repair costs.

Tenant and Guest Information
Rental Lease Agreements should include the names of all adult-aged tenants allowed to reside in the rental. Your state or local government may have laws protecting minors and family-size limitations that you'll want to consider. In terms of guests, you can limit how long they may stay and where they may park vehicles if applicable.

Payment Schedule
Landlords commonly choose to collect rent at the beginning of the month, but you can choose an alternate payment schedule. With our contract, you select when the rent is due and the number of grace period days. You can also outline how much the late fees are and when they are due.

Furnishings
While most apartments only include appliances or perhaps window coverings, your property may be different. Note which furnishings you provide in your lease, so property can be accounted for when the tenant moves out.

Auto-renewal Clause
Typically, most lease agreements last a year. But what happens when the contract ends? In many instances, landlords opt for auto-renewal. That means that the terms remain the same, and that tenant pays on a month-to-month basis. Or, you can create a new Lease Agreement with altered terms and require the tenants agree to the new terms to continue as renters.

Pet Provisions
It's your property, so you have the right to decide whether a tenant can bring in a pet. This is the most common negotiation point in many leases. Often, landlords will allow for pets to live in their property, but require an additional security deposit, cleaning fee and or a monthly pet rent fee. You have these options available to choose from in our customizable Lease Agreement. Keep in mind that some states may or may not support breed restrictions.

Subletting Provisions
You have the option of allowing or disallowing subletting of your property. Many property managers do not allow tenants to rent (all or part of) their home or apartment to someone they don't have a contract with, so you may want to consider disallowing subletting. Or, you may include provisions for adding new or additional tenants to a lease upon your approval.

Parking Provisions
A parking space in a crowded or urban area can be a great asset. If your tenant will have a parking space in your apartment complex or home's driveway, make sure to include the details in your Lease Agreement. Many often include vehicle details to help control non-renters from using protected parking spaces.

There are other options and provisions in our printable Lease Agreement form—such as the number of keys provided, whether there is storage space, and how to go about terminating the lease —so you can rest assured that your Lease Agreement will be right for you and your tenant. Keep in mind that you can change your Lease Agreement with a Lease Agreement amendment if, for example, your tenant asks to adopt a pet and you didn't have a pet provision in the original lease.

You can use a lease for any type of residential rental with a term agreement. You can make a lease for renting out duplexes, townhomes or condos, mobile homes, long-term vacation rentals, tiny homes, term business travel units or simply a room in your own home. If you need to rent a business property, we offer a template specifically for Commercial Lease Agreements.

It is in everyone's best interest to have an active lease agreement in place. Even if you are renting to a friend or family member, it is smart to have more than just a verbal agreement. Specific terms discussed in a verbal agreement can easily be forgotten and relationships can go sour. Verbal agreements are much more difficult to prove in court. A well-written lease can help define arrangements such as who pays what utilities, whether they can have long-term guests, where they can park and other important agreements that may be forgotten or taken advantage of without a Lease Agreement.

State discrimination laws vary, but most will not allow you to include certain restrictions. Most state and local laws will not allow you to exclude based on race, national origin, sex or gender. Often you cannot limit family size unless the housing is exclusive to seniors. You also may not be able to ask the tenant to sign waivers to their legal rights such as the right to sue or demand habitable housing. Since local laws vary you may benefit by consulting with a lawyer before creating your first lease in a new area.

How much you can charge depends on the state the rental property is in. Many states limit the amount of the deposit to one to two times the amount of the rent. Some may even limit it by the age of the leasee, such as lower limits for seniors. Local laws may apply, as well. Some states may even require you to put security deposits into a separate interest-bearing account and that you report that information to your tenant.

For the most part, you cannot deduct expenses for regular wear-and-tear such as fading paint, rug wear or dirty blinds. Some states may even require that you provide receipts for repairs over a certain amount in case you end up in court.

You can deduct for damage or hygiene issues considered outside of normal use, such as:

Building damage
Large holes in walls, broken doors or windows, or changed locks.

Filth
Excessively dirty bathrooms or kitchens, mold from neglect, pet stains, clogged drains, moldy refrigerators or flea extermination.

Broken inclusions or amenities
Costly damage to appliances, parking area, storage sheds, blinds or included furniture.

Even if you are not required to keep receipts for repairs, you should any way for your own business records. It may also help to make sure you have an accurate move-in description of the property included in the lease with images in case you have to debate over any repairs.

This Lease Agreement form should suit the needs of most residential landlords, but we also offer more specialized forms:

If you have any questions about what's right for your Lease Agreement, we can connect you with a lawyer for quick answers or a document review.

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