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Residential Rental Lease Agreement

What is a Residential Rental Lease Agreement?
A residential lease agreement, also referred to as a rental agreement, is a contract between the landlord and tenant that sets forth the terms of the rental property. These terms include, but are not limited to: rental location, dates of rental, rent amount, payment methods accepted, deposit requirements, utilities you will provide, and more.

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Whether you own a single rental property or several, it’s important to develop systems for showing apartments and rentals, performing proper tenant screening on applicants, and extending leases. A customizable residential lease form saves you time, because you can change the personal information while keeping the terms of the lease standard across every unit. Learn what is typically covered in a residential lease template and where to get a customizable form for 12-month or month-to-month leases.

What Does a Residential Lease Agreement Template Cover?

Responsibilities & Obligations
A lease agreement covers your responsibilities as the landlord and the renters’ responsibilities for the lease term. The lease agreement begins with a description of the property address and basic personal information on tenants and the landlord or property management company. The lease also spells out tenants’ obligations to you, such as quiet hours or leaving the apartment in move-in ready condition at the end of the lease.

The duration of the lease, terms for renewal, and causes for termination are listed, too. The duration of the lease agreement is to be negotiated with the prospective tenant with common terms being 6 months to a year but can be for as short or long as you’d prefer. The terms for renewal must be written in the rental lease as well and can be for any period you choose or not offered at all. A new rental lease agreement is not required for renewals if the terms, services, or any law has not changed. The tenant can continue to reside in the rental property based on the original lease.

Payment of Rent
The rental agreement form outlines the day rent is due and how payments are to be made. It is your decision what forms of payment you will allow and the date you want rent to be paid. Payment options may include cash, check, money order, or cashier’s check. You also might want to consider offering access to pay online via direct deposit to your account or by credit card (which may or may not incur additional fees). The rental agreement also needs to indicate any penalties if rent is late. Even if rent is one or two days late you should utilize a late rent notice. This will help to keep track of delinquencies and to remind the tenant they need to be responsible and pay on time.

Additional Details
The lease lets renters know where and how to report problems with maintenance in the rental unit, what specific behaviors are prohibited (such as smoking), and usually spells out which utilities (if any) are covered by the landlord and which renters must cover themselves.

While you can customize your rental lease agreement with additional clauses (for instance, specifying which, if any, pets are allowed in apartments), your lease must always conform to state laws. Including a clause that violates state laws could nullify the document, which is not something any landlord wants!

For this reason, it is crucial that any lease agreement you use — whether it’s a 12-month lease or a residential lease agreement month to month — be vetted by professionals for legal accuracy and completeness.

Other common lease terms include subletting clauses, provisions for property damage or the security deposit, and landlord or tenant improvements.

Who Signs the Lease Agreement Form First?

Under no conditions should you start signing the lease agreement first.

It is considered normal business practice to require the lease agreement form, as well as any other included agreements, to be signed by all prospective tenants before the landlord. Once executed documents have been returned to you, please be sure to check that no modifications were made and that the tenant signed where it states they are required to do so. Landlords should then return a signed copy of the rental contract to all parties involved.

Get a Residential Lease Agreement Template

American Apartment Owners Association offers a customizable lease form for property managers and investment property owners to customize and complete for use in their rentals. AAOA members receive the lowest cost on all forms.

All the landlord forms you’ll find we offer are complete and ready for your use. Simply order the forms, fill in the relevant property details, tenant information and personal information, and distribute the forms to your renters. While AAOA’s legal forms are reviewed by attorneys it is always recommend to have your attorney review them as well. You should also familiarize yourself with the landlord tenant law in your area.

To get your customizable rental agreement template, receive the best price on a tenant credit check or landlord tenant forms and get other benefits, become an AAOA member today.

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Addendums and Disclosures

Depending on your state, you might be required to include certain addendums and disclosures in the rental agreement. These are small sections that can be added to your form intended to be used by both you, as a landlord, and the tenant. Required addendums and disclosures based on landlord tenant law may include:

  • Asbestos Addendum: Applicable to buildings constructed before 1981, this addendum provides the tenants with information about asbestos and how to avoid upsetting the surfaces that contain it to avoid exposure.
  • Bed Bugs: This addendum will inform the tenant what to do if they discover bed bugs in their unit.
  • Criminal Activity: This notification will inform the tenant of any past illegal activity that occurred on the property.
  • Domestic Violence: This section will inform the tenant of any policies regarding lock changes or early lease ter mination in the case of domestic violence.
  • Flood Zone: If the property is in a flood zone, this section will notify the tenant.
  • Housing Code Violations: If there have been housing code violations in the past, this section will notify the tenant of when they occurred and what they were.
  • Lead Paint: Applicable to buildings constructed before 1978, this disclosure will inform tenants of the potential hazards of lead paint.
  • Mold Notification: Mold notifications apply to both the tenant and the landlord. The landlord will be required to inform tenants of any mold present in the unit while tenants are instructed to notify the landlord if they notice any water damage or mold as soon as possible.
  • Pests: This addendum should include information about pest control, including which pests need to be addressed and the appropriate course of action for tenants to take.
  • Radon Hazards: This addendum is required if there is a potential radon hazard on the property.
  • Sex Offender Notification: In accordance with Megan’s Law, this section will inform the tenant of sex offender information.

What Can These Agreements Can Be Used For?

Rental agreements can be used for a variety of different properties. Different property types will require different information to be included specific to the needs of each individual space. This can include:

  • House: A house may need to include expectations about lawn and yard maintenance, snow removal, and trash collection.
  • Apartment: An apartment rental agreement may include building rules and parking lot information.
  • Room: A rental agreement form for individual rooms should include information regarding which spaces are private and which are shared.
  • Condominium: A condo rental form may need to include information about the use of shared spaces such as swimming pools and community rooms.
  • Townhouse: Rental agreements for townhouses should also include information about shared spaces and any general community rules.
  • Mobile Home: Rental agreements for mobile homes may need to specify whether the tenant is responsible for any yard care and the use of any community spaces.

Of course, this list isn’t inclusive of all property types or all considerations that need to be included in simple rental agreements. Other factors to consider include the pet policy, visitor policy, utilities, rent payment due date, and late fees among others. Including a comprehensive list of expectations in your agreement will ensure all parties understand the full terms.

Who Needs a Rental Agreement?

Anyone renting property to another person should have a rental agreement prepared. Even if the space is being rented out to a family member or close friend, a basic rental agreement will protect both the tenant and the landlord. A written contract is much easier to prove than a verbal agreement is if there is ever a dispute between the parties involved.

Landlords will find that a well-thought-out rental agreement helps save them time and protects their property. This is accomplished when the rental agreement:

  • Outlines rent payment expectations and late rent notice guidelines, eliminating confusion and questions about payment methods and due dates.
  • Documents all of the terms of the agreement, including expectations about the wear and tear of the property.

Tenants also benefit from rental agreements that outline the terms of the lease. They have a document that not only outlines what is expected of them as renters, but also a resource to turn to when they have questions which can cut down on back-and-forth conversations with the landlord.

Steps to Take After Creating a Rental Agreement

Consider investing in a platform to collect e-signatures: Having electronically signed rental agreements makes it easy to file and keep track of the documents. If you prefer a hard copy, you can download a printable rental agreement, have the new tenant sign it in person, and then upload the signed copy as a rental agreement PDF to be stored electronically.

Get it reviewed by a professional: If you have any questions or concerns about your rental agreement template, you should have it reviewed by a professional. AAOA members get access to free printable basic rental agreement templates, educational resources and live customer support to ensure that their agreements are compliant with all state laws and cover all the necessary details.

Make copies for yourself and the tenants: Finally, you’ll want to make copies of the signed rental contract for yourself and for each person who signed. This way, it can be easily referenced by all parties involved in the rental.