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Making a Lease Agreement
A Lease Agreement is a contract between two parties (a "lessor" and a "lessee") that outlines the terms of renting property. When it comes to a residential rental, the lessor is the property owner or landlord, and the lessee is the tenant. Signed by both parties, this essential document helps to set reasonable expectations for the tenancy. It defines what you will be responsible for as a landlord and what actions you'll take if the lease is not followed. You can tap or click "Make document" to take a closer look at our sample Lease Agreement.
When it comes to renting out residential property, the terms "lease" and "rental agreement" can be used interchangeably. Regardless of what the document is called, this contract should outline every aspect of the rental arrangement that you want your tenants to agree to, and it should clearly outline your responsibilities and expectations as the landlord or property manager.
As with any legal contract, a Rental Agreement is not legally binding until it is signed by all parties. This customizable document from Rocket Lawyer can offer much more protection than a Lease Agreement template or blank PDF file that you might come across elsewhere. As a Rocket Lawyer member, you will have the option to activate Document Defense® for your lease, which allows an attorney to help you demand payment or otherwise enforce your rights. While not all documents are legally valid with electronic signatures, most residential Lease Agreements are.
Whether you are offering the rental to an acquaintance or a stranger, it is always a good idea to create a Lease Agreement. Making this document could be a smart move due to the following benefits:
Any landlord opting not to make a Rental Agreement can expect some issues, such as ambiguity regarding fees and the inability to meet payment due dates.
A Lease Agreement outlines the rental relationship between a landlord and tenant. It sets expectations for each party and notes consequences for failing to meet them. Here’s a list of what a lease should cover.
Description of the Rental Property - Not only should the Lease Agreement note the physical address of the property, but it also should list any non-fixed items, including refrigerator, range/oven, dishwasher, microwave, washer, dryer and water-filtration system. Doing so protects the landlord come move-out day and the tenant if an appliance should require repair; if the lease lists it, the landlord must keep it in working order.
Names of Tenants - The rental agreement should include the name and signature of every adult who will live at the property, and it should be updated as necessary. This makes each tenant responsible for the terms of the lease. Such a setup allows a landlord to expect full rent each month no matter the turnover in roommates. It also encourages tenants to police each other when it comes to rules and regulations, as a violation by one can result in termination of the Lease Agreement for all.
Duration of Lease - Whether month-to-month, annual or another length of time, Lease Agreements should specify their duration.
Renewal Process - A month-to-month lease typically self-renews until either the landlord or tenant gives notice of non-renewal. Annual or longer Lease Agreements usually switch to month-to-month status at the end of the initial term. Either way, the lease should include the process for non-renewal, including how much time either the landlord or tenant must provide, typically 30 or 60 days.
Security Deposits, Fees and Rent Payments - All required deposits, fees, and payments should be noted in the Lease Agreement, including security deposits due upon signing and any nonrefundable cleaning, redecorating, and pet fees.
The amount of rent and how, when, and where payment must be made each month also should be included, as should information about any late fees or penalties for failed electronic payments and bounced checks. Procedure for holding, use and return of security deposits should be included in leases, as well.
Utilities - The Lease Agreement should specify who pays for each of the available utilities, including electricity, water/sewer, gas, oil, cable, internet, and garbage pickup.
HOA Fees - The landlord typically rolls any homeowners' association (HOA) fees into the total rent amount to have more control over their payment. Non-payment of HOA fees may result in hefty fines and even liens on the rental property. The Lease Agreement should note who pays the fees either way.
Use and Subletting - A lease should specify that the rental property only be used as a residence, unless the landlord agrees that the tenant may operate a business out of the property. Whether or not the tenant may sublet, and the process for subletting if allowed, also should be noted.
Right to Entry - While the tenant has a right to privacy, the landlord may need to enter the premises to make repairs or perform inspections from time to time. The Lease Agreement should include the notice, typically 24 hours, to be given before entry.
Repairs and Maintenance - The landlord legally must provide major repairs, but the landlord may assign responsibility for minor repairs on a case-by-case basis to the tenant per the Lease Agreement. If the tenant holds responsibility for regular maintenance, such as mowing a lawn or treating a pool, the lease should specify such expectations.
Rules and Regulations - Lease Agreements should include, whether listed in the lease or provided as a separate document, any rules and regulations the tenant must follow, including any HOA rules and regulations.
Pets - Number of pets and type and breeds allowed should be specified in the Lease Agreement, as should whether or not the tenant must purchase special liability insurance to cover any pet-related issues, including damage done by the pet to the rental property and medical bills resulting from the pet biting someone on the property.
Most landlords start with a standard rental agreement then customize it to suit state and city laws, and particular rental situations if necessary. No matter the situation, and whether you are a landlord or tenant, read the Lease Agreement word for word before signing to help avoid frustration during its term.
Making a free Lease Agreement online is simple. Just answer a few questions, and Rocket Lawyer will build your document for you. When you have all of the details prepared, the whole process can take less than 10 minutes.
You'll need the following information:
Lease term details
When you build your rental contract, you also will be able to include details about insurance requirements, furnishings, and early termination. Using the document tool, you also have the ability to add more custom edits, as necessary.
Our document template will guide you through the items to include in your Lease Agreement. Since it is customizable, you can make it as thorough or as brief as you want. You will want to include the basics such as how much rent is, when rent is due, how long the lease lasts and property details.
Provisions typically included in a Lease Agreement are:
Description of the property. At the minimum, you'll want to include the address and unit number. You may also want to describe areas that are excluded such as storage units or parking spaces.
Terms. The length of the lease including start date and what happens when the lease ends. You may choose to have the lease automatically renew or require that a new lease agreement is signed.
Deposits. The amount of the initial deposit and pet deposit (if required). You may also choose to include information about what portion of the deposit is nonrefundable.
Occupants and guests. This section will define how many people will live there, who is on the lease and how long guests can stay.
Utilities and services. Describes who is responsible for paying the utilities such as electricity and gas and services such as internet and cable.
Termination. You'll want to explain what actions may terminate the lease such as non-payment and what will happen if they violate the agreement.
Contact information. Your renters will need the contact information for the property manager, the person to contact if they lock themselves out, maintenance people for approved repairs and others depending on your arrangement.
Legal language. The portions that provide legal protections and agreements such as binding effect, waivers, estoppel certificate obligations, litigation fees, dispute resolution and more depending on your state laws.
To make sure you don't accidently include discriminatory language or violate local landlord-tenant laws, you may benefit from asking a lawyer to review your final document.
Local laws vary, but in most areas, there are specific restrictions on what you can include in a Lease Agreement. Many state and local laws do not allow you to ask about or make exclusions based on a renter's race, national origin, sex, or gender. You might not be able to limit family size unless your rental properties are exclusively for seniors. Most often you cannot ask for the age of the applicant unless you need to verify that they are old enough to legally rent on their own. Some states may require you to include information about the financial institution that is holding their deposits. Ask a lawyer if you have very specific questions about what you can and cannot include in your Lease Agreement.
To complete a Lease Agreement for your home online, you'll need to prepare the following information in advance:
The address and description of your property.
The lessee's contact information.
What the start and end dates are for the rental.
What amenities will be included.
How rent payments should be made.
As you probably expect from a contract like this, any Lease Agreement that you make using Rocket Lawyer will also include guidelines around smoking and drug use, animals, past due payments, invited guests, and early move-out. While making your rental contract, you also will be able to add more details about furnishings, maintenance procedures, and insurance requirements. With the document tool, you have the power to implement additional customization, as needed.
A landlord-tenant lawyer might typically cost anywhere between $200 and $500 per hour depending on what state you operate in. With Rocket Lawyer, you can make a lease for free.
You can access your Lease Agreement anytime, anywhere, on any device. As a Rocket Lawyer Premium member, you can copy your rental contract, edit it, or send it out to your tenants for an online signature. You can also download it in PDF or Word format, and print it anytime. You can also use your Rocket Lawyer membership to have your Lease Agreement reviewed by an On Call attorney.
Attached to your Lease Agreement, there's a series of next steps to take to finalize the document. You are encouraged to take any or all of the following actions with your contract: making edits, downloading it as a Word document or PDF file, getting electronic signatures with RocketSign®, and printing it. Finally, you will need to send a final copy of the fully signed agreement to the tenant. You may also wish to browse our entire selection of legal documents.
Laws often evolve over time. If you've got any questions or hesitations about local rental laws, you can always talk to a lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to give feedback on your agreement could take a long time if you do it by yourself. Another approach could be to request help from the On Call network of attorneys. Rocket Lawyer Premium members are able to request a document review from an experienced attorney or ask other questions. As a property owner or manager, you can Work Confidently™ with Rocket Lawyer by your side.
Alongside each Simple Real Estate Lease, there's a set of next steps to take to finalize your document. You should feel free to interact with your document in all of these ways: editing it, getting signatures online using RocketSign®, printing it out, and saving it in PDF format or as a Word document. Most importantly, the tenant should always receive copies of your fully executed agreement. You should also feel free to explore more real estate documents in our library.
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Last reviewed or updated 04/22/2022