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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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