A residential lease agreement is an agreement between a property owner and tenant in relation to a residential property. Such an agreement covers the long-term rental of a residential property, like a house or apartment, as opposed to the short-term arrangements typical of holiday rentals. Residential lease agreements are sometimes referred to as rental contracts or residential tenancy agreements.
When Residential Lease Agreements Are Appropriate
A residential lease agreement is appropriate whenever a landlord and tenant enter into a long-term rental arrangement. For the purposes of this document, anything in excess of 30 days is considered long-term. Residential leases can cover single rooms or entire houses. They can cover apartments, in-law suites, condominiums, townhomes, mobile homes, and duplexes.
Defining Lease Parties
A typical rental lease agreement will identify at least two parties: landlord and tenant. Sometimes, leases require tenants to list all the legal adults that will live on the property. All adults named in the lease become legally recognized tenants who share equal responsibility for fulfilling the tenant’s obligations.
It is in the best interests of a landlord to clearly spell out what he or she considers a legal tenant. If multiple parties are considered legal tenants, all should sign the lease agreement acknowledging their consent to abide by its provisions.
Residential Lease Agreement Provisions
Though less complicated than commercial lease agreements, residential agreements still cover a wide variety of topics:
Party and Property Information
A residential lease should include pertinent information on both parties. This includes names, addresses, and contact information. Residential leases almost always include a description of the rented property as well. The description may be basic or detailed, but it should include the legally recognized postal address.
Terms cover a number of things beginning with the length of the lease. Leases typically run for 12 months, but other terms are allowable. A lease should also stipulate if the term is fixed and, if not, how it can be renewed. This includes whether notice will be given and, if so, how far in advance.
Rent Amount and Payment
Residential leases stipulate the unit’s rental price and how often rent will be paid. Rent can be paid weekly, monthly, or annually. Additional expenses may or may not be addressed in a residential lease agreement. They typically include things like utilities, trash removal, pest control, etc.
In situations where landlords are agreeable to pets, lease agreements often spell out the rights and responsibilities of pet ownership. This may include the types of pets that are and are not allowed, as well as the tenant’s responsibility for pet damage. Lease language may address how pets are to be controlled on the property as well.
Security Deposits and Damage
Nearly all residential lease agreements include a security deposit to be paid by the tenant along with the first month’s rent. Any such requirement should also stipulate how security deposits are applied to property damage. Lease language should address how and when security deposits will be returned to tenants upon termination.
In some cases, landlords feel it necessary to spell out certain activities they will or will not permit. For example, a landlord may refuse to permit tenants to smoke. Leases generally include provisions addressing excessive noise, unruly guests, etc.
Residential Lease Agreement Template
If you’re looking for pre-made template of a residential lease agreement, you can visit Law Depot. They offer an easy-to-use service to create your own lease. It combines a do-it-yourself residential lease with the guidance of their service.
Subletting an Early Termination
Landlords must protect themselves against financial loss in the event tenants do not fulfill the terms of their leases. This protection is generally accomplished in one of two ways. First, a landlord may allow tenants to sublet their units in the event they decide to move before the end of the lease. Subletting does not relieve the tenant of the financial obligations of the lease. If the subletter fails to pay, the original tenant is still responsible.
The second option is to assess an early termination fee. Under such an arrangement, a tenant could leave early in exchange for paying a fee equal to one- or two-month’s rent. The tenant usually forfeits his or her security deposit as well.
Residential lease agreements should always be used when renting out any type of residential property for longer than 30 days. Landlords should consult with attorneys to make sure the language in their lease agreements fully protects their interests.