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Residential Lease Agreement
What is a lease agreement?
A lease agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant that outlines the terms by which the tenant can rent property from the landlord, such as the duration of the lease, the monthly rent amount, and maintenance responsibilities.
Who needs a residential lease agreement?
Anybody involved in leasing a property should have a residential lease agreement that defines the terms of the agreement and keeps all involved parties protected by law.
These individuals include property managers looking for tenants and vice versa, social service providers looking for supportive housing, real estate agents, and anyone renting or looking to rent a property.
What is the difference between a lease and a rental agreement?
In the case of real estate or apartments, a rental agreement typically provides for tenancy for a short period of time, usually 30 days.
Unless the renter or landlord provides a move-out notice, the lease is automatically renewed.
The terms of the agreement can also be changed each month.
1. Tenant Views the Space
Before a lease agreement is drawn up, the tenant will usually view the space and see if it’s acceptable to their living standards.
If they like it, they will make an offer to the real estate agent, manager, or landlord.
The offer will usually be based on the monthly rent amount.
2. Rental Application
Any offer made will require the tenant to authorize a rental application and pay a small fee (see maximum amounts ($) by state).
This gives consent to the landlord to legally perform a credit and background check.
3. Landlord Runs a Consumer Report
The landlord is highly recommended to run a consumer report that, depending on the state, will allow them to view the tenant’s credit and background reports.
For example, states such as Washington and New Jersey do not allow a landlord to use an applicant’s criminal record against them.
- Limited Consumer Report ($21)
- Detailed Consumer Report ($40)
4. Verify References
On the completed rental application, the tenant should have listed references such as past employers and landlords.
The landlord should contact the individuals provided via phone and ask about the character of the tenant and if they have paid rent on time during their tenancy.
5. Approving the Tenant
If the tenant is approved, a lease agreement should be written by the landlord in accordance with the terms negotiated.
The main negotiated items of a lease are the following:
- Monthly Rent Amount ($) – How much the tenant has to pay and due on the 1st of each month.
- Security Deposit – This is determined by the landlord but cannot be more than the maximum ($) statKe requirement.
- Utilities – Such as electricity, water/sewer, cable, internet, heat, etc.
- Fee(s) – Such as parking, pets, trash, etc.
- Move-in Date – The day the tenant will take occupancy.
- Term – A standard lease is 12 months but can be any agreed-upon term.
6. Lease Signing
When both parties sign the lease it becomes legally binding until the end of its term. The most common ways to sign are in-person or electronically (DocuSign or eSign).
Tenant’s Obligations (4) – When signing, the tenant is commonly required to pay:
- First (1st) month’s rent;
- Security deposit;
- Last month’s rent; and
- Any other fees that are due during the 1st month of occupancy.
Landlord’s Obligations (3) – When signing, the landlord is responsible for providing:
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – Required if the residence was built prior to January 1, 1978, to disclose the possibility of hazardous paint on the premises.
Move-in Inspection Checklist – Prior to or when moving in, the tenant and landlord should inspect the property and write down any existing damage.
Photos should be taken and documented with timestamps. This is required in 17 states.
State Disclosures – Any disclosures required under state law.
7. Taking Occupancy
Access to the property is granted on the 1st day of the lease term (unless otherwise agreed).
If the tenant moves in before the start of the term, the tenant pays rent based on the pro-rata number of days entering early on the property (ex. if the tenant moves in 10 days early and the rent is $1,500/mo, the tenant is obligated to pay $500).
8. End of the Lease
At the end of the lease period, the landlord must decide whether to renew the lease.
If the landlord chooses not to renew, the tenant is required to move out and provide their forwarding address.
Security Deposit Laws
|No. of Pages||11|
|PDF Size||5 MB|
Rental And Lease Agreement Forms PDF Free Download