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Making a Residential Lease
A Residential Lease Agreement is a legally binding contract that solidifies rental agreements. These documents include details such as rent due, deposits, terms, and renter and landlord responsibilities. They establish the rights and responsibilities of each party and give important information such as when rent is due, where to send it, how repairs and maintenance should be handled, etc.When ready, you can tap or click on "Make document" to take a closer look at the sample Residential Lease and preview the questions that you will need to answer to build it. Any Residential Property Rental Agreement under a Rocket Lawyer Premium membership can be reinforced by optional Document Defense® support from an attorney.
Our document template will guide you through the items to include in your Residential 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 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.
You can make your own Residential Lease online for free with Rocket Lawyer. When you're ready to start, tap or click on "Make document." You will then answer a set of questions to produce your contract. It may help to have your contract checked by an attorney in our nationwide network. This route will often be much less expensive than finding and working with a traditional attorney at a cost totaling hundreds of dollars or even more, if the situation is complex. Residential Lease Agreements are customizable for any state and any type of residential rental unit, including houses, parts of homes, apartments, condos, townhouses, or manufactured homes.
Limits on the length of a residential lease will depend on your state. Some states have no upper limits on lease lengths, whereas others do. At common law, a 99-year lease was recognized as the longest possible term, and some places still follow that example. However, in practice, residential leases are unlikely to last that long. Both landlords and tenants have good reasons to maintain flexibility when it comes to a residential lease. The longer a lease continues, the more likely it is that one of the parties will need to break it.
When you are ready to complete your drafted contract, it must be signed by both you and the tenant. As a best practice, be sure to give a copy of your fully signed agreement to the other party. When you use RocketSign®, the entire signature process can be managed remotely. With a Premium membership, you also can print it out, download it in PDF format or as a Word document, or copy it when needed. Also, feel free to explore our larger selection of real estate documents.
When you sign a Residential Lease Agreement, you are signing a legally binding contract. Both the landlord and the tenant are bound to the terms of the agreement, which is supposed to outline the responsibilities and rights of each party.
That being said, if the tenant absolutely must breach the agreement for some reason, the lease will likely contain information regarding early termination. In many cases, there will be some sort of financial penalty for ending the lease early. Additionally, the tenant will likely still be on the hook for covering the cost of the rent unless and until the landlord can find a suitable replacement tenant.
The landlord may owe a "duty of mitigation," which means the landlord has to limit his or her losses by trying to find a new tenant. This is usually done by listing the property and showing it to interested parties. However, tenants should keep in mind that a lease means a financial obligation for the full term of the agreement, and should sign it with that in mind.
The law is continually evolving and it may vary based on your particular municipality. If you've got any particular doubts or questions about local rental laws, you can always connect with a lawyer. Getting a lawyer to provide feedback on contracts might be expensive. Sometimes a lawyer will not even agree to review documents that they didn't author. If an attorney does decide to offer feedback, they are still going to make you pay a fee to do it. A more cost-effective alternative would be to request help from attorney services at Rocket Lawyer. As a Premium member, you can get your documents reviewed or ask any questions. Whether you decide to create multiple Residential Leases or other documents from our library, Rocket Lawyer will be here for you.
It is best to have a Residential Lease Agreement even with those you know well. The first reason is that it helps communicate what your agreements are in case conversations are forgotten or remembered incorrectly. And secondly, sometimes relationships can go sour or life changes may prevent your renters from keeping up their side of the agreement. It is more difficult in some areas to evict a tenant without a Lease Agreement. While verbal agreements are most often legally binding, it is easier to prove a rental arrangement exists to the court with a signed lease.