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Rental / Lease Agreement Templates

A lease agreement allows a tenant to occupy space in exchange for the payment of rent to the landlord. Prior to authorizing a lease, the landlord may request the tenant&#;s credit and background information to ensure they can afford the rent amount. In addition, the landlord may require a security deposit which will typically be equal to one (1) or two (2) months&#; rent in case the tenant does not fulfill their obligations under the agreement. Payment is commonly due on the first (1st) of the month with late fees or eviction proceedings that may commence if the tenant is late.

Rental Application &#; In order to find qualified renters, landlords will commonly distribute this document to interested parties. It requires applicants to disclose certain information regarding their past tenancies, present occupation, and overall financial status.

Apartment Lease Agreement &#; A residence located in a multi-family building/structure. Unless the apartment is located on the first (1st) floor, there are no requirements for the tenant to maintain the premises.

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Commercial Lease Agreement &#; The leasing of property for business-related use. This may be for any retail, office, or industrial purpose.

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Condominium Lease Agreement &#; If the property for rent is under the rules and regulations of a condominium association, the owner of the unit may carry out this form with the prospective tenant.

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Equipment Lease Agreement &#; The renting of an item (or items) for personal or work use.

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House Lease Agreement &#; The rental of a single-family dwelling that is not part of a larger project.

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Month-to-Month Lease Agreement &#; Known as a &#;tenancy-at-will&#;, this allows the landlord and tenant to come to an agreement on a property rental that can be canceled at any time (thirty (30) days&#; notice is typically required).

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Rent-to-Own Lease Agreement &#; When the tenant rents a property with the option to purchase the home during the course of the tenancy.

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Room Rental (Roommate) Lease Agreement &#; For a person seeking to rent a room in a shared residence.

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Standard Lease Agreement &#; Considered the paradigm of lease agreements, this document is commonly used for every day rental transactions.

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Sublease Agreement &#; For a tenant seeking to re-rent their residence to someone else (the &#;subtenant&#;). The landlord will commonly have to give consent as most standard lease agreements prohibit the act of subleasing.

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A lease agreement is a common legal document that allows a person or business to rent property from the owner. Most residential agreements are for one (1) year, while most commercial agreements are usually for multiple years. The primary details of a lease that must be recorded within the form include:

  • Date of the Agreement&#;s Origination
  • Names and Addresses of the Landlord & Tenant
  • Property Description (rental unit&#;s address)
  • Term of the Occupany
  • Security Deposit Amount
  • Required Lease Payments (rent)

Once a lease agreement is signed by both parties, it becomes a legally binding document. (There is no need for witnesses or notarization.)

An addendum is attached to a lease to add supplementary terms to the existing contract. It is important that all parties (landlord & tenant) sign off on the document to ensure that they both acknowledge the modifications made.

disclosure is a statement that relays specific information to the recipient (typically the tenant) concerning the rental property. Most times, these are presented because either local or federal laws require it.

General Addendums, Disclosures, & Notices:

If you are new to owning property or becoming a landlord, you will need to know the ins and outs of the lease agreement pretty well. For professional help, it&#;s best to hire a landlord & tenant attorney to draft a lease agreement for your property. If you wish to rent out your property yourself and would like to draft your own lease agreement, follow the steps below.

Step 1 &#; Market Your Rental Property

In order to attract interested parties, you have to make the public aware that you have a home available for rent (whether it be an apartment, condo, house, etc.). The most effective way to do this these days would be to advertise on a popular real estate listings website. The top platforms being:

Step 2 &#; Showing the Unit

Now that you have advertised your rental, it is only a matter of time before you will start to receive inquires regarding the property. Eventually, one of these parties will request to view the space in person to see if the home fits their needs. Schedule a time and date to have the property shown by you (the landlord) or an agent working on your behalf (realtor or property manager).

Step 3 &#; Providing Rental Applications

If any of the individuals viewing the premises convey that they are interested in leasing the residence, a rental application should be presented at this time to first verify their qualifications as a tenant. A rental application is a document that requires specifics concerning the prospective tenant&#;s current financial status (particularly regarding their income and credit score), past rental arrangements, and criminal background. The information is then analyzed to help determine whether or not they are a viable applicant. (A fee is commonly required for the tenant to compensate for the cost of processing the information.)

Step 4 &#; Introducing the Lease Agreement

Once the landlord has found a tenant that has satisfied the application process, it will be time to introduce the lease agreement into the equation. Any tenants, also known as lessees, that will be living on the property need to be included in the lease agreement. The same goes for the landlord (or landlords if there are multiple owners), also called the lessor, who controls the rental property. Supplying the information of the lessee and lessor should be the very first part of the agreement. This just entails that the participants provide:

  • Names & Mailing Addresses of Both Parties
  • Names of Occupants (individuals who will also be living on the premises that are not registered tenants)
  • Property&#;s Address

Step 5 &#; Terms of the Lease

Within the terms of the lease is where you will establish the core elements of the tenancy. The following terms must be discussed, agreed upon, and entered into the form:

  • Dates of Tenancy
  • Security Deposit
  • Periodic Rent
  • Lease Type (fixed-term or month-to-month)
  • Use of Property (will there be an additional purpose aside from being a residence, e.g. place of business)
  • Penalties (fees for late rent or returned checks)
  • Utilities (who is responsible for the cost)

Step 6 &#; Rules and Provisions

Both parties should review all the various clauses within the lease agreement that define the proper code of conduct for the rental property. Each clause contains language that dictates the rules & regulations that the landlord and tenant must adhere to in order to maintain a valid contract. When a rule or provision is broken, the violating party is considered in &#;breach of contract&#; and the other party may have the right to terminate the agreement if the infraction is not addressed within the allotted timeframe. Certain sections may be removed or added to the document to better serve the needs of each party. Some components of the occupancy that you may want to cover within this section include:

  • Parking
  • Smoking
  • Pets
  • Subletting
  • Noise
  • Guests
  • Abandonment
  • Maintenance & Repair
  • Notices
  • Early Termination

Step 7 &#; Signing the Document

After establishing the terms & conditions of the tenancy and recording them within the form, it is essential that both parties supply their endorsements within the necessary areas of the contract. Many landlords/management companies utilize an online signing feature to perform signatures. Once signed, each party should retrieve a copy for their records and the occupancy shall start on the date issued within the contract. (This does not typically require notarization.)

Each state within the U.S. has its own rules and regulations regarding landlord-tenant relationships. Refer to the table below to find out more information about your state&#;s rental laws.

Within all lease agreements, there will be a provision made stipulating the date in which the monthly rent payment is to be paid upon. States across the country have different laws that are enforceable should the tenant fail to pay the rent on time. These laws are mostly related to grace periods and fees.

grace period is the duration of time the landlord has to wait before they can charge the tenant for an overdue rent payment.

A late fee is a penalty charge imposed on the tenant for not cooperating with terms of the contract in regard to supplying the rent payment on time.

Below is a table listing each state&#;s laws concerning the minimum grace period a landlord must wait before billing the tenant and the maximum fee they can charge. (Landlords and tenants should always record this element of the tenancy within the content of the lease agreement.)

AlabamaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
AlaskaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
ArizonaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
ArkansasFive (5) DaysNo Maximum§ (b)
CaliforniaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
 ColoradoNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
ConnecticutNine (9) DaysAlthough there is no statute, the state&#;s research report insists that the charge should not exceed 5% of the monthly rent.§ 47aa
DelawareFive (5) Days5% of the Monthly Rent§ , § (d)
FloridaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
GeorgiaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
HawaiiNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
IdahoNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
IllinoisFive (5) Days$20 or 20% (whichever is more) ILCS § 95/(a), ILCS § 95/(c)
IndianaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
IowaNo MinimumProperties with rent payments of $ or less may only have a maximum late fee of $12 per day or $60 a month. Tenants with a rent that exceeds $ may be charged a maximum fee of $20 per day or $ per month.§ A.9(4)
KansasNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
KentuckyNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
LouisianaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
MaineFifteen (15) Days4% of the Monthly Rent§ , §
MarylandNo Minimum5% of the Monthly Rent§ 8–
MassachusettsThirty (30) DaysNo Maximum§ B
MichiganNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
MinnesotaNo Minimum8% of the Monthly Rent§ B
MississippiNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
MissouriNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
MontanaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
NebraskaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
NevadaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
 New HampshireNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
 New JerseyFive (5) business days only for senior citizens receiving social security and individuals receiving disability or WorkFirst benefits. No minimum grace period for individuals who are not under these categories.No Maximum§ 2A
 New MexicoNo MinimumNo Maximum§
New YorkNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
North CarolinaFive (5) Days$15 or 5% of the Monthly Rent (Weekly rentals may charge a maximum fee of $4 or 5% of the periodic rental cost.)§ (a), § (a)(1), § (a)(2)
North DakotaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
OhioNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
OklahomaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
OregonFour (4) DaysThe landlord may charge a flat fee that is deemed a &#;reasonable amount&#; in relationship to the current market. In addition, they can collect a daily fee that is 6% of the flat fee charged, or 5% of the total rent.§ (1)(a), § (2)
PennsylvaniaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
 Rhode IslandNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
South CarolinaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
South DakotaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
TennesseeFive (5) Days (If the final day of the grace period happens to land on a Sunday or holiday, there shall automatically be a one (1) day extension.)10% of the Monthly Rent§ (d)
TexasNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
UtahNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
VermontNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
VirginiaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
WashingtonNo Minimum$20 or 20% of the Monthly Rent§
West VirginiaNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
WisconsinNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes
WyomingNo MinimumNo MaximumNo Statutes

An NSF (non-sufficient funds) check occurs when someone provides a check that bounces. A lack of the needed funds in the account when the payment is attempting to be cashed will result in the financial institution charging the depositor a fee for the failed transfer. As a result of this, the landlord may be entitled to charge the tenant for any fees they incurred and the overall hassle.

Like late rent payments, many states enact laws that limit the amount one can charge for this violation. Either way, this fee should be established within the content of the rental agreement prior to its execution. If you are interested in researching your state&#;s policies on returned checks, review the table below to better understand your rights concerning this matter.

Alabama$30§ (b)
Alaska$30§ (2)
ArizonaNo MaximumNo Statutes
Arkansas$30§ , §
California$25 (Plus $35 for each additional bad check provided.)§
ConnecticutNo Maximum§ a(d)
Delaware$40§ A
Florida$25 for checks of $50 or less. $30 for checks more than $50, but less than $ $40 for checks more than $, or 5% of its total value.§
Georgia$30 or 5% of the Check&#;s Amount§ (b)
HawaiiNo MaximumNo Statutes
IdahoIf the parties cannot come to an agreement on the penalty for a returned check, then the landlord may take the tenant to court for the amount of the check plus $ for damages, or 3 times the check&#;s amount.§ A
IllinoisThe amount of the check plus any fees incurred. ILCS § 5/(E)
Indiana$ or 5% of the Check&#;s Amount§
IowaThe amount of the check plus any fees incurred.§ (6)
Louisiana$15 plus any fees charged by the financial institution.§
MaineThe landlord may charge for the amount of the check, bank fees, and mailing expenses.§
MarylandNo MaximumNo Statutes
Massachusetts$30§ 62C
Michigan$25 for checks repaid within 7 days, $35 for checks repaid within 30 days.§
MinnesotaNo MaximumNo Statutes
NevadaNo MaximumNo Statutes
 New HampshireNo Maximum§
 New JerseyShould the landlord not be compensated within 35 days of trying to cash the bad check, they may impose a fee of $ or 3 times the amount on the check.§ 2AA-1
 New MexicoNo MaximumNo Statutes
New York$20§
North Carolina$25§
North Dakota$40§ a
Ohio$30 or 10% of the Check&#;s Amount§
OklahomaNo MaximumNo Statutes
Pennsylvania$50§ e
 Rhode Island$25§
South Carolina$30§
South Dakota$40§ 57A
TexasNo MaximumNo Statutes
Washington$40§ 62A(b)(1)
West Virginia$25§ e
WisconsinNo MaximumNo Statutes

A security deposit is charged by almost every landlord/owner that is renting out property. A security deposit is normally equal to one (1) or two (2) months&#; rent depending on the tenant&#;s credit report, rental history, and state laws. If a tenant damages the dwelling or abandons the lease during the tenancy, the deposit is there to cover any losses incurred by the landlord. If there was no damage to the property and the lease ends, landlords will have a certain timeframe set by the state to return the full security deposit back to the tenant. If there was damage, then the landlord must include an itemized list of repairs that need to be made and deducted from the deposit.

Security Deposit Return/Refund Letter &#; Landlords may utilize this form for the purpose of documenting the reimbursement of the security deposit funds.

Review the data below to discover your state&#;s policies on the maximum amount a landlord can charge a tenant for the security deposit and the timeframe in which they must return the deposit upon the lease&#;s expiration.

AlabamaOne (1) Month&#;s RentSixty (60) Days§ A(a), § A(b)
AlaskaTwo (2) Months&#; Rent (with the exception of properties that have a rent higher than $2,)Fourteen (14) Days§ (a), § (g)
ArizonaOne and a Half () Months&#; RentFourteen (14) Days§ (A), § (D)
ArkansasTwo (2) Months’ Rent (Only for landlords who own six (6) or more rental units.)Sixty (60) Days§ , §
CaliforniaTwo (2) Months&#; RentTwenty-One (21) Days§ (c), § (g)
 ColoradoNo MaximumSixty (60) Days§
ConnecticutTwo (2) months&#; rent for individuals under 62 years old, one (1) month&#;s rent for individuals over the age of Thirty (30) Days§ 47a(b), § 47a(d)(2)
DelawareOne (1) Month&#;s RentTwenty (20) Days§ , § (e)
FloridaNo MaximumFifteen (15) Days§
GeorgiaNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§
HawaiiOne (1) Month&#;s RentFourteen (14) Days§ (b), § (c)
IdahoNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§ 
IllinoisNo MaximumForty-Five (45) Days ILCS § /1(a)
IndianaNo MaximumForty-Five (45) Days§ 
IowaTwo (2) Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ A(1), § A(3)(a)
KansasOne (1) month&#;s rent for unfurnished properties, one and a half () months&#; rent for furnished properties.Fourteen (14) days if deductions are made, thirty (30) days for the full deposit.§ (a), § (b)
KentuckyNo MaximumSixty (60) Days§ 
LouisianaNo MaximumOne (1) Month§
MaineTwo (2) Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ , §
MarylandTwo (2) Months&#; RentForty-Five (45) Days§ (b)(1), § (e)(1)
MassachusettsOne (1) Month&#;s RentThirty (30) Days§ B(1)(b)(iii), § B(4)
MichiganOne and a Half () Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ , § 
MinnesotaNo MaximumTwenty-One (21) Days§ B
MississippiNo MaximumForty-Five (45) Days§
MissouriTwo (2) Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ (1), § (3)
MontanaNo MaximumTen (10) days for the full deposit, thirty (30) days for a partial deposit & itemized list of damages.§
NebraskaOne (1) Month&#;s RentFourteen (14) Days§ (1), § (2)
NevadaThree (3) Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ A(1), § A(4)
 New HampshireOne (1) Month&#;s RentThirty (30) Days§ A:6, § A:7
 New JerseyOne and a Half () Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ , §
 New MexicoThere is no restriction on the amount a landlord can charge for a security deposit as long as it is deemed &#;reasonable&#;. If the lessor would like to avoid paying the tenant interest, one (1) month&#;s rent is the maximum deposit that can be charged. One (1) month&#;s rent is also the maximum one can charge for rentals with a term of less than a year.Thirty (30) Days§ (A)(1 & 2), § (C)
New YorkNo MaximumFourteen (14) Days§ (e)
North CarolinaTwo (2) months&#; rent for an annual lease, one (1) month&#;s rent for a month-to-month contract, and two (2) weeks&#; rent for a week-to-week rental.Thirty (30) days for a full deposit, sixty (60) days if deductions need to made due to damages.§ , §
North DakotaOne (1) Month&#;s Rent (Individuals who have been convicted of a felony or violated the terms of a previous rental contract are subject to an increased security deposit of two (2) months&#; rent.)Thirty (30) Days§ (2)(A), § (3)
OhioNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§ B
OklahomaNo MaximumForty-Five (45) Days§ b
OregonNo MaximumThirty-One (31) Days§
PennsylvaniaTwo (2) Months&#; RentThirty (30) Days§ , §
 Rhode IslandOne (1) Month&#;s RentTwenty (20) Days§ a, § b
South CarolinaNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§ a
South DakotaOne (1) Month&#;s RentTwo (2) Weeks§ , §
TennesseeNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§
TexasNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§
UtahNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§ 
VermontNo MaximumFourteen (14) Days (Sixty (60) days for seasonal rentals.)§ c
VirginiaTwo (2) Months&#; RentForty-Five (45) Days§ (A), § (A)(iv)
WashingtonNo MaximumTwenty-One (21) Days§
West VirginiaNo MaximumAs soon as &#;reasonably&#; possible.§ A-2
WisconsinNo MaximumTwenty-One (21) Days§
WyomingNo MaximumThirty (30) Days§

At some point during a tenant&#;s occupancy, there will be a time when the landlord (or their agent) needs to access the premises for essential purposes, e.g. repairs, general maintenance, emergencies, etc. All contracts for the rental of residential property should include a clause that lays down the protocol for this situation, as there is a certain etiquette that is expected in order to respect the tenant&#;s rightful boundaries and allow them time to prepare for the entry.

A notice of entry should be delivered to the tenant informing them that the landlord (or an individual working on their behalf) will need access to the unit. This notice must be provided with a &#;reasonable&#; date & time of arrival as well as a purpose for the visit. It is important to stipulate the minimum required hours/days of notice within the lease agreement prior to the tenancy. Before selecting the desired amount of advanced notice required to enter the property, individuals should first verify their local state laws concerning this issue.

AlabamaTwo (2) Days§ A (c) & (d)
AlaskaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ (c)
ArizonaTwo (2) Days§ (D)
ArkansasNo MinimumNo Statute
CaliforniaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ (a)
 ColoradoNo MinimumNo Statute
Connecticut&#;Reasonable Notice&#;§ 47a(c)
DelawareForty-Eight (48) Hours§ (b)
FloridaTwelve (12) Hours§ (2)
GeorgiaNo MinimumNo Statute
HawaiiTwo (2) Days§ (b)
IdahoNo MinimumNo Statute
IllinoisNo MinimumNo Statute
Indiana&#;Reasonable Notice&#;§ (g)
IowaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ A(3)
Kansas&#;Reasonable Notice&#;§
KentuckyForty-Eight (48) Hours§ 
LouisianaNo MinimumNo Statute
MaineTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
MarylandNo MinimumNo Statute
MassachusettsNo MinimumNo Statute
MichiganNo MinimumNo Statute
Minnesota&#;Reasonable Notice&#;§ B
MississippiNo MinimumNo Statute
MissouriNo MinimumNo Statute
MontanaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
NebraskaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ 
NevadaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ A
 New HampshireNo MinimumNo Statute
 New JerseyNo MinimumNo Statute
 New MexicoTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
New YorkNo MinimumNo Statute
North CarolinaNo MinimumNo Statute
North DakotaNo MinimumNo Statute
OhioTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
OklahomaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
OregonTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
PennsylvaniaNo MinimumNo Statute
 Rhode IslandForty-Eight (48) Hours§
South CarolinaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ a
South DakotaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
TennesseeNo MinimumNo Statute
TexasNo MinimumNo Statute
UtahTwenty-Four (24) Hours§ 
VermontForty-Eight (48) Hours§
VirginiaTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
WashingtonTwenty-Four (24) Hours§
West VirginiaNo MinimumNo Statute
WisconsinTwelve (12) Hours§ (2)(a)(2)
WyomingNo MinimumNo Statute

Listed below are some commonly used words/phrases associated with leasing (in alphabetical order):

Abandonment &#; When the tenant unexpectedly vacates the premises prior to fulfilling the terms of the agreement.

Addendum &#; A supplementary form that may be attached to a lease to include additional terms (must be signed by both parties to take effect).

Agent &#; Somebody who works on the behalf of another, e.g. real estate agent, attorney, property manager, etc.

Alterations & Improvements &#; Modifications made to a property that changes its physical appearance or functionality.

Appliances &#; Devices/Machines that perform household duties and typically tend to be large, e.g. laundry machines, refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves/ovens, etc. (These items are most times considered to be fixtures to the rental unit and labeled &#;real property&#;.)

Amenities &#; Additional features of a rental property that add extra value to it, e.g. balcony, washer/dryer, fitness center, etc.

Binding Effect &#; A widely used clause, this section of a lease agreement is implemented for the purpose of binding and benefiting the parties involved as well as their heirs, legal representatives, and assigns.

Breach of Contract &#; A violation of any of the terms & conditions recorded within the rental contract that may result in a termination of the agreement if the infringing party does not rectify the situation.

Default &#; The chain of events that are to occur should the tenant be in breach of contract.

Due Date &#; The day in which the rent payment is to be satisfied by the tenant. (Oftentimes, a grace period of several days is provided if the rent is not paid on the exact due date, after which, the landlord is entitled to charge a fee.)

Entire Agreement &#; A clause included within the lease used to signify that all the agreements made are contained within the document (and its attachments) and that no other arrangements were made separately.

Eviction &#; A formal action taken by the landlord to expel the tenant from the rental property.

Fair Housing Act &#; Restricts property owners (or their agents) from refusing to rent to an individual based on their race, sex, color, age, familial status, nationality, religion, or disability.

Fixed Term &#; Unlike a tenancy at will (a month-to-month contract) where you can end the lease at any time so long as the required amount of notice is given, a fixed-term lease is a specific span of time that the parties are obligated to carry out. This term could span from six (6) months to multiple years, but one (1) year is the most common option you will find with this type of tenancy.

Furnishings &#; Pieces of furniture, decor, and any other similar items that can be removed from the home and are considered personal property.

Governing Law &#; A common clause included within a lease agreement, this term conveys that the tenancy is subject to local state laws.

Grace-Period &#; A span of time from the day the rent is due in which the landlord must wait before he or she can charge a late fee. (The amount of time should be listed within the lease agreement and is typically around five (5) days.)

Guests &#; A guest is identified as a person who is not considered a tenant or occupant that will be present on the premises for a brief period of time. The amount of time a guest can stay should be stated within the rental contract. (Most leases will mandate that a particular guest cannot stay on the property for more than ten (10) to fourteen (14) days within a six (6) month period.)

Hazardous Materials &#; Any substances contained on the premises that could have a negative impact on the residents or the property itself.

House Rules &#; These are guidelines created by roommates to avoid any type of disputes regarding the co-tenancy. Some examples of what these guidelines could cover include cleaning duties, noise restrictions, guest privileges, etc.

Indemnification &#; A common clause contained within most lease agreements, this section is used to protect the landlord from any legal liability concerning the injury of any tenants or guests that may occur on the premises, as well as any damage to their personal property.

Insurance (Bond) &#; Landlords are encouraged (and sometimes demanded by local law) to notify the tenant of what type of insurance policy they have as it pertains to the lessee.

Landlord (Lessor) &#; Owner of the rental property who will be leasing the residence to the tenant (lessee).

Late Fee &#; A charge imposed by the landlord when the tenant has failed to satisfy the monthly cost of the rental on the date in which the rent is due. (Most rental agreements specify that the tenant has a certain amount of days from the due date, known as a grace period, to pay the rent.)

Lease Agreement (Rental Contract) &#; A document used to outline the terms & conditions of a tenancy which legally binds both parties to follow through with the arrangement once signed.

Lease Renewal &#; Renewing the terms of rental contract upon its expiration.

Maintenance &#; The periodic upkeep of a rental property that the tenant must be willing to accommodate.

Monthly Rent &#; The monthly payment required by the tenant for the use of the property, commonly owed on the first (1st) of every month.

Month-to-Month &#; Also known as a &#;Tenancy at Will&#; or a &#;Periodic Tenancy&#;, this type of term only lasts for about roughly thirty (30) days at a time. As you approach the expiration date of each term, it will automatically renew until canceled by either party. (Generally speaking, individuals can end the arrangement at any time given that thirty (30) days&#; notice is delivered to the other party.)

Non-Delivery of Possession &#; A provision oftentimes added to a rental contract, this clause conveys what is to happen should the tenant not be able to move into the property by the commencement date.

Notice &#; A written notification letter typically sent by the landlord informing the tenant of an issue regarding the occupancy, e.g. notice of entry, notice to quit, notice of renovations, etc.

Occupants &#; Any individuals who will be residing within the premises who are not listed as a tenant on the lease agreement, e.g. partners, children, other family members, etc.

Parking &#; A clause customarily included within most lease agreements that establishes the property&#;s parking situation for tenants&#; vehicles. (A fee may be recorded within this portion of the form should the landlord require compensation for the parking spot.)

Parties &#; All individuals taking part in the rental transaction, e.g. landlord(s) and tenant(s).

Payment Location &#; The address in which the tenant is obligated to deliver the sum of money for the periodic rental costs.

Personal Property &#; Unlike real property, these are items/belongings that can be removed from the premises and are not affixed, e.g. furniture, rugs, televisions (that are not mounted), etc.

Pet Deposit & Fee &#; An amount separate from the security deposit that is held by the landlord in case there is damage due to a domesticated animal living on the premises. Some owners may also add a monthly fee in order for the tenant to secure the right to have a pet reside within the rental unit.

Property Description &#; The physical address of the rental property, i.e. the street name & number, unit number, city, state, and zip code.

Property Manager &#; An individual who operates a rental property on behalf of the owner in exchange for compensation.

Prorated Rent &#; Oftimes utilized when there is a delay in the move-in date, the landlord may adjust the normal monthly payment to account for the days the tenant was unable to reside within the property. (In order to calculate how much each day costs, divide the rent payment by how many days there are in the month.)

Real Property &#; This term encompasses the land and all the property attached to it, i.e. the land, building(s), and any fixtures attached to the structure(s).

Receipt of Agreement &#; It is vital that both parties receive a copy of the lease upon its execution in order to legitimize the transaction. (This should include copies of any other related documents as well as receipts confirming that certain payments were made.)

Returned Check &#; Also referred to as a &#;bounced check&#; or &#;NSF check&#;, this occurs when a check is attempted to be cashed by the landlord but the account it is associated with has insufficient funds to satisfy the amount provided.

Security Deposit &#; A very common term in the rental world, this is a sum of money provided by the tenant prior to the move-in date in order to protect the landlord from incurring the cost of any damages that may occur during the term of the occupancy.

Security Deposit Refund &#; Upon the expiration of the lease agreement, the landlord is required to return the security deposit, minus the cost of any damages, to the tenant. (This should include a written breakdown showing any deductions taken from the full amount.)

Severability &#; This paragraph is incorporated into a lease agreement for the purpose of stating that if a singular provision is not legally valid, it shall not nullify any of the other provisions made within the contract.

Sublandlord (Sublessor) &#; The original tenant who will be re-renting the premises to the subtenant (sublessee).

Subleasing (Sub-Letting) &#; A type of arrangement where the current tenant of a property re-rents the premises to a third (3rd) party. (This may only occur if the official landlord of the property grants permission.)

Subtenant (Sublessee) &#; The individual who will be subleasing the property from the primary tenant.

Tenancy &#; A common word used to describe a lessee&#;s occupancy.

Tenant (Lessee) &#; The individual who will be renting the property from the landlord (lessor) and occupying the unit.

Term &#; The period of time in which the tenant has the right to occupy the property.

Terms & Conditions &#; Guidelines recorded within a contract that need to be complied with in order to maintain a valid agreement.

Use of Property &#; What will the property be utilized for? The property use of a residence will most likely have a clause stating that the property is to function only as a single-family dwelling, as opposed to accomodating a business operation.

Termination &#; The terminology used in the rental industry when a contract is ended, either because the agreement has expired and one of the parties does not want to renew, or because there was a violation of the terms & conditions.

Utilities &#; Specific services needed for a dwelling to be habitable, e.g. electric, gas, water, sewer, trash collection, etc.

Vacancy Rate &#; The number of vacant units versus the total number of units within a building.

Verbal Agreement &#; An arrangement that is vocalized between two (2) parties rather than written down. (It is not recommended to arrange any aspects of a tenancy this way, as it is hard to prove what the parties had spoken about.)

How to Get Out of a Lease Agreement?

Breaking a lease could potentially come with some negative consequences, such as legal repercussions, difficulty renting in the future, and financial losses. When two (2) parties have signed a lease agreement, they are bound to uphold the provisions set forth within the contract. If you still want to follow through with breaking the lease, you may want to first see if there is a way out that does not violate any of the content written within the document. You may want to consider exploring the following avenues:

  • Reviewing the Lease Agreement &#; Reread the rental contract to see if there are any conditions that would allow you to legally void the lease instead of breaking it without justification. Maybe there is a clause that states that you can terminate the contract so long as a certain amount of advanced notice is given to the other party. Or, maybe the landlord has not met a condition within the contract that violates the terms and gives you an out.
  • Consider Subletting &#; This option kind of ties in with the first. If the lease agreement has a clause that states that the tenant may sublease the property to a subtenant, then you may be able to vacate the premises and re-rent it to a third party to avoid violating the original contract. If it is not granted in the primary lease agreement, it wouldn&#;t hurt to ask the landlord if this type of tenancy could be carried out (if they agree, make sure to get their permission in writing).
  • Contact the Landlord &#; If you cannot find any viable solutions to ending the lease early, it may be a good idea to contact your landlord and explain your situation. They may actually appreciate the honesty and advanced notice and be more prone to work with you on finding a solution that works for both parties.

Can you Use a Lease Agreement as Proof of Residency?

An active lease agreement where you are listed as a tenant can be considered &#;proof of residency&#; when presented to certain establishments. With that said, different states have different quotas for the amount of time that you have to be present within the boundaries of the state in order to be considered an official resident (typically around six (6) months out of the year).

How to Evict a Tenant Without a Rental Agreement?

Although it is much less common for a property to be occupied by a tenant without a lease, it is still something that occurs and has to be dealt with by landlords. Some examples of this could include the following:

  • New Owners &#; When a building that has current occupants is sold to a new owner, people may begin to question the validity of the lease agreement that was made with the previous landlord now that they no longer have an interest in the property. Although the new proprietor doesn&#;t have a contract with these tenants, they are still liable to follow through with the terms of the original document. If they would like to oust any of the existing tenants from their rental units, they will have to wait until the expiration of the lease&#;s term and provide the required amount of notice to terminate the tenancy.
  • Squatters &#; These are individuals who uninvitedly remain on the premises after the expiration/termination of the lease agreement.
  • Tenants at Will &#; Occupants who are involved in an oral agreement where each term lasts a period of one (1) month at a time. Depending on the state, this type of arrangement can usually be canceled anytime so long as thirty (30) days&#; notice is delivered to the opposing party.

If any of the aforementioned scenarios are applicable to you as a landlord and you would like to remove the tenant as soon as possible, consider some of the options regarding the eviction process listed below:

  • Negotiate &#; If it is not a volatile situation, you may want to contact the tenant first and discuss the reasons why you would like them to vacate the premises. Who knows, you may be able to settle a deal that works out for both parties and ends the tenancy in an amicable fashion.
  • Notice to Quit &#; Send a notice to quit letter to the tenant disclosing that you, the landlord, request that they vacate the premises within a specified period of time.
  • Court &#; If all else fails and the tenant refuses to leave, the landlord may take legal action and try to get a court order to evict the occupant. It should be mentioned that this could end up costing the landlord a considerable amount of time and money, so before following through with this, they should make sure their reasons for evicting the tenant are legitimate.

(Rules and regulations regarding evictions will vary from state to state. It is important that landlords research their local laws or hire legal counsel to advise them of their rights as a property owner.)

How to Negotiate a Rental Lease Agreement?

Depending on the current status of the marketplace, either the landlord or prospective tenant will have the upper hand when negotiating the terms of the rental contract. Listed below are some tools that can be implemented to increase your chances of achieving a beneficial transaction:

For Renters:

  • Research &#; Do as much research as possible for any listings that are located within the area you desire. You should determine what type of property fits your needs (apartment, condo, house, etc.), how many bedrooms you require, and what amenities you would like to have. After creating a list of potential properties and their prices, you will now have a better feel for the market and be able to use these dwellings as a frame of reference.
  • Ask Questions &#; When it comes time to speak with a landlord or their representative about a property, it is important to inquire about certain aspects of the residence that could possibly reduce the cost of the rental. Ask about the vacancy rate (percentage of empty units in the building), their willingness to reduce certain costs (rent, security deposit, additional fees, etc.), and whether or not they would be open to covering the cost of the utility expenses.
  • Advance Rent

Free Lease Agreement Template For Word

Leasing an apartment can be nerve-wracking for both the landlord or property owner and the tenant. For the tenant, getting an apartment means a huge move not only in the life of that person or simply in terms of geography. There&#;s also the packing, moving of stuff and unpacking. For the landlord, there&#;s the worry of rent payments, of whether the new tenant is a good payer, and the consideration of keeping the property undamaged and protected from any liability. 

To ensure that the rights of both parties are protected, a contract is necessary. Such contract is called a Lease Agreement, which is the topic of this article. Microsoft Word&#;s Free Lease Agreement Template is a wonderful template for creating a legally binding contract and setting ground rules between the landlord and the tenant.

Clear and Specific Written Record

The Free Lease Agreement Template for Word is a clear and specific template that is suitable for making a binding contract. It clearly defines exactly how long the apartment rent is and how much the payment for rent has to be each month. It also includes a specific due date for rent payments.

This Free Lease Agreement Template for Word also clearly states major points such as Security Deposit, Number of Occupants, Repairs, Alterations, Pets and Animals, Waste, Waivers, Parking Space, and Option to Renew, among many others. This Free Lease Agreement Template is well-detailed and is a reliable source of reference in case of disputes or questions regarding the terms of living in the apartment.

Well-Written Agreement Benefits Both Parties

It is very important that contracts and agreements are well-written to avoid confusion and further disputes. A template such as this Free Lease Agreement Template for Word benefits both parties. This Lease Agreement Template is written to give security to the landlord as it clearly states the amount of revenue each month and the specific time it is to be expected. As for the tenant, this Free Lease Agreement Template provides a locked-in rent rate as well as a legal statement of the renter&#;s rights.

This Free Lease Agreement Template for Word suitably covers everything that is needed to ensure a pleasant stay for the renter and less worry for the landlord.

Go to Download the Free Lease Agreement Template for Word

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Lease Agreement Templates


Below is a guide on the leasing process for residential properties. Learn the basics on how to market the property, show the premises to a suitable tenant, obtain their personal information for a credit and background check, and begin collecting rent by signing a lease agreement.

  1. Prepare the Property + Determine the Rent
  2. Advertise + Tour the Rental
  3. Rental Application
  4. Create a Lease Agreement
  5. Negotiation
  6. Sign the Agreement
  7. Security Deposit + Moving In

Step 1 &#; Prepare the Property + Determine the Rent

Prior to listing the rental, the landlord should ensure the unit is clean, damage-free (not including standard wear and tear), and compliant with local building codes and regulations. All possessions from previous tenants (unless it&#;s the property&#;s first time on the market) should be removed as well.

Next, the landlord will need to determine the property&#;s rent. This is an important decision, as too high of a rent price can cause the property to remain vacant, whereas too low of a price could result in an overwhelming number of applicants (and lost income on the end of the landlord).

As a general rule, the rent price should:

    1. Cover all operating expenses (taxes, repairs, utilities, mortgage, etc.)
    2. Be in-line with the state of the market (renters or buyers market, for example)
    3. Closely resemble what similar rentals are going for in the area, and
    4. Reflect the value of the home or building (typically % of the property value)

Step 2 &#; Advertise + Tour the Rental

The first action a prospective tenant typically takes is to scour the internet for apartments that fit their price range and preferences. Is there a washer and dryer located inside the rental? Will electricity, heating, air conditioning, and cable need to be factored into the monthly rent? Does the property require maintenance and renovation?

Landlords looking to find quality tenants should be prepared to answer these questions up front in an advertisement/listing. By creating quality, information-rich online postings, print advertisements, flyers, or similar advertisements, landlords will find the number of &#;flaky&#; calls/emails they receive be reduced significantly. While landlords may find the number of requests to tour the rental go down as a whole, the ratio of quality applicants to unfavorable applicants will be greatly increased, allowing landlords to spend less time touring, and more time signing.

A few popular and time-tested means of finding tenants are as follows:

  • Free Online Rental Marketplaces

Any exposure is good exposure, especially when it doesn&#;t cost landlords a dime (unless they are looking for premium options). In today&#;s age, the majority of apartment-seekers head to online marketplaces where they can browse for rentals that meet their requirements. Filters allow them to search based on rent price, square feet, baths, appliances, and much more. As mentioned before, when making a posting, the more characteristics landlords include the more likely they&#;ll fill the unit&#;s vacancy.

Popular options: Zillow | Craigslist |

The classified section of newspapers is a great way to get the word out to potential tenants. While the option is never free, it can help landlords get the word out to those that could be looking for rentals in the future, and that don&#;t browse rental listing sites. Setting this up is as easy as visiting the newspaper&#;s advertising page and sending out an email to the party responsible for ads.

Although it&#;s the simplest option of those provided, placing a sign in the yard or window of the rental property is free exposure that is visible to everyone that passes by. Unlike online marketplaces, a physical sign can inform people of the vacancy that wouldn&#;t be exposed to it otherwise. This can help spread knowledge of the available rental to those that are in the market for signing a new lease.

Step 3 &#; Rental Application

If the apartment or home fits the tenant&#;s expectations and requirements, they will request to sign a lease. It&#;s at this time that the landlord will request the tenant(s) to complete a rental application. Due to the liability involved with renting, landlords need as much information as possible in order to ensure the tenants moving-in to their property are responsible and trustworthy. Landlords should never lease to a tenant that they haven&#;t properly vetted.

During the screening phase, landlords will acquire some (or all) of the following:

  • Basic Tenant Info &#; Includes the name of the applicant along with certain identifying information, such as their Social Security Number, full name, address, email, phone number, and driver&#;s license number.
  • Employment Information &#; To get an idea as to whether or not the tenant can afford rent payments, the landlord will need to collect the applicant&#;s employment information. This can be in the form of tax documents, paychecks, or the contact info of a boss or employee who can verify the tenant&#;s income and job status.
  • Rental History &#; Landlords will almost always reach out to an applicant&#;s past landlords to get an honest and accurate depiction of the type of renter the prospective tenant is. Additionally, they will often require applicants to list several referrals that the landlord can contact as well.
  • Credit + Background Check (Separate to the Rental Application) &#; While not always required in a rental application, the landlord may request the rental candidate to pay for a credit check. Like employment information, the credit check gives insight into whether the applicant is likely to be timely with their rental payments. Missed payments on loans, bills, and any accumulated debt will be available to the landlord.

Step 4 &#; Create a Lease Agreement

Alongside identifying viable tenants, creating a comprehensive lease agreement is one of the most important tasks landlords face. Leases serve a very important role in the rental process, which is reinforced by the fact that they:

  • Serve as proof that the tenant(s) committed to leasing a property for a certain length of time;
  • Bind tenant(s) into an obligation of paying timely rent;
  • Ensure all parties are clear on their obligations and the rules they must follow;
  • Protect the rights of the landlord and tenant(s); and
  • Are the go-to resource for resolving disputes and arguments.

Note: In addition to the above points, the majority of states legally require leases of one (1) year or longer to be in writing.

Does a written lease have to be used? Not necessarily. For periodic leases, creating a verbal agreement is still legally binding in the eyes of the law. The problem? Proof. With a verbal agreement, it&#;s the word of the landlord versus that of the tenant(s).

Our recommendation: Due to the complex laws and requirements of each state, we recommend landlords and property managers use eForms to create a lease contract. While it&#;s not free (unlike our templates), we find the safety in knowing the lease has been approved for use in a specific state by a full team of attorneys is often worth the minimal cost and peace of mind.

Step 5 &#; Negotiation

If the landlord deems the applicant tenant worthy of renting the space and the tenant(s) are still interested in proceeding, the parties will sit down and discuss the terms and conditions found within the lease. Because the contract is provided by the landlord (and they obviously agree to everything included), they enter the agreement on the &#;defense&#; so to speak. Once sitting down with the tenants, the landlord should go section-by-section through the entire agreement, clarifying any confusing sections and answering any questions the tenants pose.

If the tenants do not approve of a certain section, they will most likely attempt to negotiate it with the landlord. Whether or not the landlord should agree to alter a section of the contract depends on several factors:

  • Is the section mandatory by state law? (forbidding tenants to alter installed smoke detectors, for example);
  • Will it increase the operating costs of the landlord or property manager?;
  • Is the rental highly-desired? (If the landlord received a significant number of applications, they have no reason to budge on the lease, as they can simply lease to someone else).
  • Are the applicants exceptional? (finding a great renter isn&#;t easy &#; if the landlord feels like the tenants will treat the property with respect and make timely payments, it may be worth complying with a negotiation request).

Ultimately, it comes down to the property manager&#;s decision. If they feel like the requests are reasonable, they should accept (and vice versa).

Important note: It is not the landlord&#;s responsibility if a tenant skims through the agreement, signs it, and later complains of a condition found within the form. It is the tenant&#;s responsibility to ensure they agree with all conditions. However, landlords cannot include a section in the agreement that conflicts with state law or the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Step 6 &#; Sign the Agreement

At this point, the tenant(s) should have read through the entirety of the agreement at least once, discussed any questions or concerns regarding the terms and conditions contained within the document, and reached an agreement regarding said terms. So long the parties are ready to enter into the binding contract, all parties should sign their names in the fields provided, officially putting the agreement into effect.

Having the lease signed by witnesses or notarized is not a requirement and is rarely done by landlords. While doing so can technically improve the document&#;s validity, it is generally viewed as non-essential.

Step 7 &#; Security Deposit + Moving In

The lease is now active and the tenants are excited to move into their new rental. To cover any damage to the property, a missed payment, or other penalties/fees, the landlord should require the tenant(s) to pay a security deposit. The amount is typically equivalent to one (1) months&#; rent, although certain states have no limits on the amount that can be charged. In addition to the deposit, the landlord should collect the first month&#;s rent.

After receiving all deposits in full, the landlord should complete a condition checklist with the tenants. This is a form used for recording any damage/missing items within the rental property. This ensures landlords are protected from having a tenant state &#;the damage was there when we moved in!&#; when in fact, it wasn&#;t (works the other way as well &#; protecting tenants from being charged for damage they didn&#;t cause). Once the checklist has been completed and all initial payments have been received, the landlord should give the tenant(s) the keys and allow them to move into the property, completing the rental process.

AlabamaOne (1) month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
AlaskaTwo (2) month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
ArizonaOne and a half () month&#;s rent
ArkansasTwo (2) month&#;s rent
CaliforniaTwo (2) month&#;s rent
ColoradoNo limit
ConnecticutTwo (2) month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
DelawareNo limit (for the first rental year)
FloridaNo limit
GeorgiaNo limit
HawaiiOne (1) month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
IdahoNo limit
IllinoisNo limit
IndianaNo limit
IowaTwo (2) month&#;s rent
KansasOne (1) month&#;s rent
(with exceptions)
KentuckyNo limit
LouisianaNo limit
MaineTwo (2) month&#;s rent
MarylandTwo (2) month&#;s rent
MassachusettsOne (1) month&#;s rent
MichiganOne (1) and a half month&#;s rent
MinnesotaNo limit
MississippiNo limit
MissouriTwo (2) month&#;s rent
MontanaNo limit
NebraskaOne (1) month&#;s rent (w/ exceptions)
NevadaThree (3) month&#;s rent
New HampshireOne (1) month&#;s rent or $ (w/ exceptions)
New JerseyOne and a half month&#;s rent () (contains exceptions)
New MexicoOne (1) month&#;s rent
New YorkOne (1) month&#;s rent
North CarolinaOne (1) and a half month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
North DakotaOne (1) month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
OhioNo limit
OklahomaNo limit
OregonNo limit
PennsylvaniaTwo (2) month&#;s rent (with exceptions)
Rhode IslandOne (1) month&#;s rent
South CarolinaNo limit
South DakotaOne (1) month&#;s rent (contains exceptions)
TennesseeNo limit
TexasNo limit
UtahNo limit
VermontNo limit
VirginiaTwo (2) month&#;s rent
WashingtonNo limit
West VirginiaNo limit
WisconsinNo limit
WyomingNo limit
AlabamaSixty (60) days after the termination of the tenancy
AlaskaFourteen (14) days if the tenant provides the proper notice (of their vacancy); Thirty (30) days otherwise.
ArizonaFourteen (14) days after the termination of the lease (not including weekends & holidays)
ArkansasSixty (60) days after the termination of the lease
CaliforniaTwenty-one (21) days after the tenant(s) move out, or within sixty (60) days after the termination of a fixed-term lease
ColoradoOne (1) month after the termination of the lease, or the tenant moves-out of the rental
ConnecticutUpon receiving the tenant&#;s mailing address, fifteen (15) days; upon the termination of the tenancy, thirty (30) days (whichever is less)
DelawareTwenty (20) days after the termination of the lease
FloridaIf no deductions, fifteen (15) days. If deductions are made the deposit, thirty (30) days
GeorgiaThirty (30) days after the tenant moves out of the rental
HawaiiFourteen (14) days after the lease officially ends
IdahoWithin thirty (30) days if established by the lease; twenty-one (21) days if not
IllinoisIf the landlord makes deductions from the deposit, thirty (30) days; if no deductions, forty-five (45) days
IndianaForty-five (45) days after the termination of the lease
IowaThirty (30) days after the tenant(s) have moved out and provided the landlord with a forwarding address
KansasFourteen (14) days after the tenant requests the deposit; thirty (30) days otherwise
KentuckyLandlords must send a notification stating the tenant&#;s refund owed. If no response is heard within sixty (60) days, they can keep the deposit
LouisianaOne (1) month after the end of the lease
MaineTwenty-one (21) days for periodic leases; thirty (30) days for fixed-term leases
MarylandForty-five (45) days after the end of the lease (with interest)
MassachusettsThirty (30) days after the termination of the rental contract
MichiganThirty (30) days after the official end of the lease
MinnesotaThree (3) weeks after the end-date of the lease; five (5) days if the tenant was forced. to leave the rental due to no fault of their own
MississippiForty-five (45) days after the lease is officially terminated
MissouriThirty (30) days after the termination of the tenancy
MontanaTen (10) days if no deductions and unpaid debt; thirty (30) days otherwise
NebraskaFourteen (14) days after the termination of the lease
NevadaThirty (30) days within the termination of the rental agreement
New HampshireThirty (30) after the lease is terminated
New JerseyThirty (30) days after the rental contract is terminated
New MexicoThirty (30) days starting from the lease&#;s end
New YorkFourteen (14) days after the tenant(s) have moved out of the premises
North CarolinaIf no deductions, thirty (30) days. If deductions, sixty (60) days.
North DakotaThirty (30) days within the termination of the lease
OhioThirty (30) days after the lease is terminated and the landlord takes possession of the rental
OklahomaForty-five (45) days after 1) the lease ends, 2) the tenant(s) have moved out, and 3) they have requested their deposit
OregonThirty-one (31) days after the lease ends and the tenant(s) have moved out
PennsylvaniaThirty (30) days after the termination of the lease, or after the tenant(s) move out (whichever comes first)
Rhode IslandTwenty (20) days after the tenant provides the landlord with a new forwarding address, they move-out, or the lease ends (whatever comes last)
South CarolinaThirty (30) days after the tenants move out, provide the landlord with a new address, and request the deposit
South DakotaTwo (2) weeks. Must provide a list of any deductions (if requested by tenants) within forty-five (45) days after the termination of the lease
TennesseeThirty (30) days after the tenant(s) have moved out, or seven (7) days after new tenant(s) move in
TexasThirty (30) days after the tenant(s) leave the rental
UtahThirty (30) days starting from the date the tenant(s) move out
VermontFourteen (14) days after receiving notice or discovering the property was vacated; sixty (60) days for non-permanent rentals and seasonal tenancies
VirginiaForty-five (45) days after the termination of the lease
WashingtonTwenty-one (21) days after the tenant(s) move out of the rental
West VirginiaSixty (60) days after the termination of the lease; forty-five (45) days if the rental is re-leased
WisconsinTwenty-one (21) days after the tenants have moved out of the rental
WyomingThirty (30) days after the termination of the lease or fifteen (15) days after the landlord receives the tenant&#;s forwarding address. If damage to the rental, landlords can have an additional thirty (30) days

Can I electronically/digitally sign a lease?

Yes, since October , the E-Sign Act made it so digital signatures hold the equivalent legal weight as handwritten signatures. Landlords looking to collect legitimate, digitally secure signatures from tenants can use

What happens if a Tenant Breaks the Lease?

Learning that a tenant has vacated a rental before its termination is sobering news, to say the least. However, the importance of remaining calm and collected amid the range of emotions that will be felt cannot be understated. It&#;s important to understand that a lease is a binding agreement, and with the tenant&#;s signature, they are guaranteeing they will pay the rent for the entire term of the lease. In the event of a broken lease, the following steps should be taken:

  1. Reach out to the tenant via a letter. Clearly state that they still have an obligation to pay for all remaining rental payments in full, by their pre-arranged due dates.
  2. Inspect the property. Take a detailed report of any damage. If severe (and the tenant is unwilling to pay for it), taking them to small claims court will most likely be required.
  3. Generally, state laws permit the taking of the tenant&#;s security deposit to cover unpaid rent. This should be done prior to taking the tenant to small claims court.
  4. Begin looking for a new tenant. Each passing month without a new tenant costs the property owner money. Additionally, many state laws prevent landlord&#;s from collecting rent from the tenant unless they are actively looking for a replacement. If a new tenant is found and moved into the property, the landlord CANNOT continue charging the previously evicted tenant rent.
  5. If the tenant is refusing to pay rent and the landlord hasn&#;t been able to find a replacement (although they should still be trying to), they can proceed to the &#;worst-case scenario,&#; which is suing the tenant. While it should be relatively straightforward once an attorney has been contacted, there is never a guarantee.

Important Exceptions:

In some cases, a tenant can lawfully vacate a rental. They are the following:

  • Uninhabitable Rental: If the property is unsafe, doesn&#;t provide access to clean/hot water, leaks, is heavily infiltrated by mold, doesn&#;t have locking doors, or contains pests, for example, the tenant can legally breach the lease.
  • Military Duty: In accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), the tenant can vacate a lease so long they give the landlord a notice of at least thirty (30) days.
  • The Landlord Breached the Lease: Like tenants, landlords are equally responsible for holding up their end of the lease as well as following all state landlord-tenant laws. For example, if the landlord repeatedly showed up (without notice) in a state that requires a minimum of twenty-four hours of notice, the tenant may have a legal right to vacate the lease without notice (or very short notice).

Is a lease agreement legally binding?

Yes. Once signed by the landlord and tenant(s), it binds them to the conditions included, so long the rules and obligations comply with state and federal laws. While the agreement as a whole is legally binding, it&#;s important to know that not all of the sections can be enforced by a court of law.

For example, if the rental agreement contains a condition that requires the tenant(s) to keep silent about a part of the building/premises that doesn&#;t comply with local building codes, the tenant(s) do not have to comply with the condition. Rather, they should first inform the landlord of the issue in writing (following the required notice periods), followed by the local/city housing authority if no response is received.

What about a verbal lease agreement?

Yes. While verbal leases are not recommended, state laws view them as legally binding agreements. However, due to the difficulty of enforcing the conditions and proving what was agreed-upon, they should only be used in situations where the parties have extreme trust in one another (family, for example), or are leasing a property that the landlord will also share (a single room, for instance).

Lease agreement vs rental agreement?

&#;Lease agreement&#; and &#;rental agreement&#; are terms that are often used interchangeably to refer to a binding agreement over the right to live or work in a residential/commercial property. Although commonly used to mean the same thing, they differ in the term (duration) of their contracts.

  • Lease agreement &#; Used for leasing property on a long-term basis, typically in yearly (month) increments. With the contract, the end-date is known and the parties have a clear understanding of the total rent payments to be made (and when).
    • Types: Standard Residential Lease Agreement | Lease to Own Agreement | Commercial Lease Agreement
  • Rental agreement &#; Although containing many of the same conditions as a lease agreement, a rental agreement is used for short-term rental arrangements with no set end-date. Often called &#;periodic tenancies&#;, a rental agreement exists for one (1) rental term at a time where it automatically renews so long the landlord or tenant(s) do not wish to terminate it. If they do decide to end the lease, they have to provide the other party with a notice of one (1) month (or another agreed-upon notice).
    • Types: Month-to-Month Lease/Rental Agreement

Does a lease have to be Notarized?

Notarization is the process of having a certified third (3rd) party officially verify a signature on a legal document. Generally, lease agreements do not have to be notarized. However, certain states, such as Ohio, require leases longer than three (3) years to be certified by a Notary Public.

Although it&#;s not required, having a lease be notarized is an additional means of security, ensuring a lease agreement is enforceable in a court of law.

Can a lease be terminated before a tenant moves in?

Possibly. From a landlord&#;s point of view, the answer depends on whether or not their right to terminate is stated in the lease agreement. For a tenant, it also depends on the written lease, but also state law, which can provide the tenant with room for exiting the lease without incurring damages and other costs. In this situation, it&#;s in the best interest of landlords and tenants to provide notice to the other party of their intent to terminate the lease as soon as possible and try to come to an agreement on their own without involving litigation.

Abandon / Abandonment &#; A tenant&#;s voluntary action of leaving the rental property prior to the lease&#;s end, and without providing notice to the landlord.

Arbitration &#; The act of including a third (3rd) party to listen to an argument, who will then make a final decision.

Arbitrator &#; The person involved in arbitration that makes the final decision regarding a dispute.

Assign / Assignment &#; The act of permitting a secondary tenant (the sublessee) to live in a rental property in replacement of (or alongside) the original tenant (the sublessor). Also known as subleasing.

Binding &#; Commonly used in the phrase &#;binding agreement&#; or &#;binding contract&#;, refers to a set of obligations, rules, terms, and other conditions that cannot be broken/breached.

Co-tenant &#; A roommate; a tenant that shares the same rental property with another tenant.

Contract &#; An agreement that binds two (2) or more parties to a number of requirements, obligations, and/or statements.

Credit Report/Check &#; Used by landlords during the application process to view an applicant&#;s credit score, payment history, loans, and to generally see if there&#;s a good indication that the tenant will make timely payments.

Discrimination &#; The illegal, unjust treatment of applicant tenants over topics out of their control (race/color, nationality, religion, disability, sex, age, and familial status).

Escrow account &#; In renting, an escrow account is a bank account that tenants deposit their rent into. The account is managed by the local municipality&#;s clerk’s office, who only pays out rent to landlords that comply with local housing codes or whatever the requirements were when the account was initially created.

Eviction &#; The forced act of removing one (1) or more tenant(s) from a unit due to their non-compliance with the lease.

Notice to Quit/Eviction Notice &#; A written notice given by the landlord to their tenant(s) stating the tenant(s) have to leave the rental by a certain date. Only used when the tenant(s) breached the lease.

Guest &#; An individual temporarily living/staying in a rental property. Invited by the tenant(s).

Habitable / Livable &#; A rental property that is in good enough condition to warrant the tenant(s) to live in it.

Holding Deposit &#; A monetary payment made from a tenant to a landlord to &#;hold&#; the rental property for a certain length of time, ensuring the landlord does not lease it to a different tenant.

Landlord &#; The party responsible for managing the rental and overseeing the tenant(s). Is often the owner of the property (but doesn&#;t have to be).

Lease &#; A form used for specifying the details of a situation in which a property/unit/room is rented to one (1) or more tenants.

Lock-out &#; The act of preventing tenant(s) from entering a rental unit via changing the locks or similar action. Used when tenant(s) are late on rental payments. Typically an illegal action.

Mediation &#; Used for resolving disputes. Includes a third (3rd) party that listens to the arguments of both sides and assists them in coming to a mutual decision.

Negligence &#; An action that doesn&#;t take other people&#;s care and wellbeing into consideration. A mistake due to an obviously unreasonable decision.

Periodic Tenancy &#; A type of short-term lease that has no pre-defined end-date. Can be terminated by the landlord or tenant so long appropriate notice is given.

Rent control ordinance &#; A local government restriction on the amount landlord&#;s can demand for rent. Common in large cities.

Rent withholding &#; The purposeful nonpayment of rent due to a landlord&#;s noncompliance with the lease. Legally permitted in some states.

Rental Period &#; The length of time between rent payments. Can be a year, a month, a week, or another pre-determined timeframe.

Renter&#;s Insurance &#; Purchased by tenants, covering them from liability in the event their possessions are destroyed by fire, flooding, theft, a broken pipe, and more.

Security Deposit &#; A monetary payment given from tenants to a landlord at the start of the lease. Used for covering unexpected damage, missed rental payments, and more. Landlords are required to return the deposit at the end of the lease if no deductions need to be made.

Sublease &#; The act of introducing a second (2nd) tenant to live in the property alongside, or in replacement of, the original tenant.

Sublessee &#; The individual living in the property in replacement of the sublessor. Also known as the &#;subtenant&#;.

Sublessor &#; The original tenant to a rental property. Acts as the sublessee&#;s landlord.

Subpoena &#; A document that legally requires a person to attend court.

Tenant &#; The party paying rent in exchange for the right to live/work in the property. Also known as the &#;lessee&#;, &#;renter&#;, or &#;occupant&#;.

Termination notice (for periodic leases) &#; A written notice delivered by the landlord or tenant signifying they wish to terminate the lease agreement. Typically provided thirty (30) days in advance of the next rental payment.

Warranty of habitability &#; A guarantee that the rental property will be livable for tenants for the full length of the lease term.

Step 1 &#; Download the Agreement

To begin, download the Residential Lease Agreement in Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word (.docx), OR Copy to Google Docs.

Step 2 &#;Identification of the Parties

In the provided fields, enter the date that the parties are completing the document, followed by the full names of the Landlord and Tenant(s).

Step 3 &#; Beginning & End of Lease Term

  • What day, month, and year the lease will begin
  • The day, month, and year in which the lease will terminate

Step 4 &#; Property Address

The full address of the rental (street address, city, state, and ZIP Code).

Step 5 &#; Monthly Rent

The full dollar ($) amount of rent due on the first (1st) of every month.

Step 6 &#; Late Charge & Returned Checks

Enter the number of days that can pass before the agreement is terminated (and eviction proceedings begin). Most states have a required amount of days that need to pass before the eviction process can begin. Enter the day of the month after which a late charge will be issued, along with the monetary amount of the late charge. For any returned checks, enter the dollar amount charge that will be billed to the tenant.

Step 7 &#; Utilities

Landlord will need to list all utilities that will be paid for. Any absent utilities are the responsibility of the tenant(s).

Step 8 &#; Security Deposit

In the underlined field, the Landlord will need to enter the full security deposit amount that the tenant(s) will need to pay before moving into the property.

Step 9 &#; Default

The landlord will need to enter:

  • The number of days after the delivery of a notice that can pass until the agreement can be terminated.
  • In the case the tenant does not pay rent on the due date, enter the number of days the default can stay in place until the entire rent balance will be immediately due and / or the agreement will be terminated.

Step 10 &#; Abandonment

Here, the Landlord will need to specify the number of days the tenant can remain absent from the property without paying rent or removing possessions, until it will be considered abandonment.

Step 11 &#; Smoke Detectors

Landlord states the length of time the tenant has to ensure all smoke detectors are functioning in the premises.

Step 12 &#; Additional Provisions

The state-specific mandated provisions for the lease agreement. Can vary widely depending on the state in which the agreement is being completed.

Step 13 &#; Date of Execution

The date in which signatures will be recorded on the document.

Step 14 &#; Signatures

In the provided fields, both the Landlord and Tenant(s) must write their full printed names and dated signatures.

How To Write A Rental Contract

A rental agreement is extremely important for any landlord wanting to rent their property. Even if you are renting to a friend or family member, or just for a short time, a residential lease agreement can help save you from a lot of problems if (when) things don't work out. A rental contract should outline all your expectations for the renter, and it helps keep both the renter AND the landlord responsible and accountable for their part of the agreement.


Residential Lease Agreement

for Microsoft Word

Residential Lease Agreement Template


&#; Word (.docx)

For Word or later

License: Private Use (not for distribution or resale)


This residential lease agreement was created by Vertexcom and Utah real estate attorney Dean Smith. We tried to keep the template as simple as possible, and we provided some guidance below on how to use the template. However, you should still have the agreement reviewed by an attorney before giving it to any renter to sign.

Using the Lease Agreement Template

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: Vertexcom is not a law firm and does not provide legal advice or legal representation. The residential rental agreement template, instructions and related information ("Legal Information") provided herein may not be appropriate for your specific situation, may not be suitable for use in some jurisdictions, and should be reviewed, and modified if necessary, by a licensed attorney prior to being used as a legal contract. Vertex42 makes no representation or warranty whatsoever regarding the Legal Information, and your use of the Legal Information is solely at your own risk. By using the Legal Information, you release Vertex42 from all claims, losses or damages arising out of such use, and you agree that Vertex42's liability, if any, shall be limited as set forth in the Terms of Use.

Section 1: PREMISES

Insert the full street address of the house including city, state and zip code.

Section 2: TERM

This lease agreement template provides for a one year term, which is the most common, however the term can be longer or shorter as agreed upon by the parties. In the first blank, insert the date on which the rental term will begin. This is the date on which the tenant can take possession and begin to occupy the premises, and the date on which rent will commence. Ideally, the term will begin on the first day of a calendar month (this approach makes the accounting and record keeping easier), but it doesn't need to. In the second blank, insert the date on which the rental term will expire. For a one year term, this will be the day before the anniversary of the start date, for example: beginning on February 1, , and ending on January 31,


Insert the amount of the monthly rent to be paid by tenant to landlord. The rent does not include the cost of utilities, which are separately paid for by tenant, as set forth in Section 4.

Section 5: HOUSE RULES

In addition to the rules set forth in this section, the landlord may wish to provide a more detailed list of house rules and regulations to the tenant. If so, the landlord should provide a copy of the rules and regulations to the tenant prior to the parties signing the rental agreement.


If the house is subject to any Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), HOA agreements, or other similar instruments, copies of such documents should be given to tenant prior to the parties signing the rental agreement. If the house was built before , the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure and Pamphlet (available at should be given to tenant prior to the parties signing the rental agreement. If the house was built in or later, the second paragraph of Section 6 can be deleted from the rental agreement.


If the landlord owns personal property (furniture, appliances, decorations, etc.) that is located at the premises and available for tenant's use, the landlord should keep a record of that personal property, so there is no question about it when the term expires. Such items can be listed in the blank provided in this section, or can be listed in a separate document that is attached to the rental agreement as Exhibit A. If an exhibit is used, insert the following into the blank: "see list of landlord's personal property attached hereto as Exhibit A". It might also be a good idea to take pictures and/or video of such personal property prior to delivering possession of the premises to tenant. Pictures and/or video also allow the landlord to document the condition of the premises prior to delivering possession, and when the premises are returned to landlord at the end of the term.

Section 9: DEPOSIT

In the first blank, insert the amount of the security deposit. Often this amount is equal to one month's rent, however the parties may choose to agree on any amount. In the second blank, insert the portion (if any) of the security deposit that will not be refundable at the end of the term. For example, the landlord might have a policy of having the carpets professionally cleaned after each tenant, and in that case the landlord might state that $ of the security deposit will be non-refundable. Of course, the landlord has the right to utilize the entire deposit, if necessary, toward unpaid rent or the cost of repairing any damage to the premises caused by tenant, as set forth in more detail in this section of the agreement.

Signature Blocks:

Insert the names of landlord and tenant (if there are two or more tenants, insert the names of each of them) and have each person sign and date the agreement.

References and Resources

Related Content


Sours: https://www.vertexcom/WordTemplates/lease-agreement-template.html

Template word agreement lease

Lease Agreement Template

A lease agreement is a legal contract between a landlord and tenant for the use of commercial or residential property in exchange for monthly rent. The terms of the agreement are negotiated by the parties and, if the tenant is approved after filling in a rental application, a lease is written.


blankCommercial Lease &#; For any type of commercial space for business use such as industrial, office, or retail. There are three (3) types of commercial leases: Gross Lease, Modified Gross Lease, Triple Net (NNN) Lease.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word





blankMonth-to-Month Lease &#; Otherwise known as “tenancy-at-will”, is a rental contract that can be terminated in either 30 days or the minimum termination required by the State.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word





blankResidential Lease &#; A fixed-term rental contract between a landlord and tenant whereas payment is due every month, usually on the first (1st) day, and the term is commonly for one (1) year.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word





blankRoommate Agreement &#; A roommate agreement outlines the terms when 2 or more people live together in a residence while sharing the common areas such as the kitchen, bathroom(s), and living areas.

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word





blankSublease Agreement &#; A tenant (“sublessor”) who is currently is under a lease decides to rent a portion of the entire space to subtenant (“sublessee”).

Download: Adobe PDF, MS Word




A lease is only as good as the form it is written and the individual that desires to rent the space. Due to each State having its own specific laws regarding disclosures and security deposits a landlord may follow the instructions below in order to create a binding arrangement with the tenant.

Step 1 &#; Check the Tenant&#;s Credit and Background

Through the Rental Application, a landlord will be able to view a tenant&#;s background and verify with their employer to see the character of the person. Recommended sites to perform this lookup on the tenant include Experian ($), ($), and SmartMove ($25).

This can be identified by confirming the following:

The average credit score in the USA is between  to Therefore, if a prospective tenant has a higher score, greater than , they may be able to negotiate a better rent with the landlord knowing that they will be reliable to pay the rent on time every month.

Although, for individuals below , it may take extra credentials such as proof of income or employment, a larger security deposit, and pre-paying a portion of the total rent in order to make the landlord comfortable with the arrangement.

If the prospective tenant has any criminal blemishes on their record then this is up to the landlord to justify how credible the charge that&#;s listed. If the property is located with families and other professionals of the community then it may pose a larger risk than if the real estate is located in an urban setting.

Unless the prospective tenant is retired or can prove they have a sufficient amount of cash, along with a high credit score, it is ideal to find a tenant that has a job at the present time. This can be completed by having their employer authorize an Income Verification Form (Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word) along with the individual producing pay-stubs for the last 2 weeks.

Past Tax Returns &#; If the landlord wants to go even further they can request tax returns for the last 2 years with IRS Form W-2 (for employees) and IRS Form  (if self-employed).

The landlord, at their discretion, can ask for a Reference Letter (Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word) from the most recent lessor to ask about the character of the renter in addition to requesting if the individual paid on-time while acting as their tenant. Although, most tenant background check websites will be able to catch if the individual has ever been evicted in the past.

This is usually a waste of time and most landlords no longer verify references other than the employer and past lessor. As the individual will, most of the time, add their best friends and colleagues that will be scripted to say the best and most positive things even if the individual is not of good moral character.

Step 2 &#; Choose Your Agreement

There are four (4) types:

This is the most common. Lasts for a period of 1-year and cannot be terminated by the landlord or tenant.

Also referred to as a &#;Tenancy at Will&#;, has no end date but can be canceled at any time by the landlord or tenant by giving the other party written notice, usually 30 days, that they will be terminating the agreement.

This is a contract that binds the tenants that are collectively renting from a landlord. Items such as cleanup times, who pays for what room, and any other agreements between the roommates can be created.

This is when a tenant has a lease, usually a 1-Year term, and they are forced to vacate the premises while still being liable for the rent until the end of the agreement period. They can, with the landlord&#;s permission, rent the space to someone else in order to help pay for the rent.

Step 3 &#; Negotiate the Terms


At this point, the terms and conditions of the lease should be negotiated by the parties with, most importantly, the monthly rent. For the landlord and tenant to get a better idea of the market in their area use or Zillow to view related properties and their monthly asking price.

Items to be Negotiated

  • Security Deposit
  • Monthly Rent
  • Late Rent Penalty
  • Non-Sufficient Fees (NSF)
  • Utilities & Services
  • Smoking Policy
  • Subletting
  • Co-Signer / Co-Guarantor

After the aforementioned items have been agreed upon it is time to write the Agreement.

 The Security Deposit

A security deposit is collected by the landlord in the chance that the tenant defaults on their lease or if there is damage that is left at the end of the lease term. The former allows the landlord to salvage 1 or 2 months of rent during any eviction period which can usually take this amount of time.

Although, the maximum amount the landlord may request for the security deposit depends on the State where the property is located. The limit is determined by the rent amount and equivalent to (see below):

  • AL &#; § A &#; 1 Month
  • AK &#; AS &#; 2 Months (if rent is over $2,, then no limit)
  • AZ &#; §  &#; Months
  • AR &#; § &#; 2 Month
  • CA &#; § (c) &#; Unfurnished 2 Months, Furnished 3 Months
  • CO &#; No laws
  • CT &#; § 47a(b) &#; older than 61 yrs old 1 Month, under 2 Months
  • DE &#; 25 § (a)(2) &#; 1 Month if lease is 12 months or more
  • FL &#; No laws
  • GA &#; No laws
  • HI &#; § (5)(b) &#; 1 Month
  • ID &#; No laws
  • IL &#; No laws
  • IN &#; No laws
  • IA &#; § A(1) &#; 2 Months
  • KS &#; § &#; Months if furnished, if not then 1 Month
  • KY &#; No laws
  • LA &#; No laws
  • ME &#; 14 § &#; 2 Months
  • MD &#; § (i)(3) &#; 2 Months
  • MA &#; § 15B(b)(3) &#; 1 Month
  • MI &#; § &#; Months
  • MN &#; No laws
  • MS &#; No laws
  • MO &#; § &#; 2 Months
  • MT &#; No laws
  • NE &#; § &#; 1 Month
  • NV &#; A &#; 3 Months
  • NH &#; § A:6(1)(a) &#; 1 Month
  • NJ &#; § &#; Months
  • NM &#; § (1) &#; 1 Month
  • NY &#; No laws
  • NC &#; § (b) &#; 2 Months for Standard, Months for Month-to-Month
  • ND &#; § &#; No pets 1 Month, Pets then 2 Months
  • OH &#; No laws
  • OK &#; No laws
  • OR &#; No laws
  • PA &#; 68 § a &#; 2 Months
  • RI &#; § &#; 1 Month
  • SC &#; No laws
  • SD &#; §  &#; 1 Month
  • TN &#; No laws
  • TX &#; No laws
  • UT &#; No laws
  • VT &#; No laws
  • VA &#; § (A) &#; 2 Months
  • WA &#; No laws
  • WV &#; No laws
  • WI &#; No laws
  • WY &#; No laws

Step 4 &#; Sign the Lease

In most occasions, the agreement is signed between the landlord, tenant, and agent (if any). Unlike other legal contracts, it is not necessary to have a notary public as a witness. It is important that every State&#;s laws have been observed in regards to its legal Statutes and Disclosure Forms. Therefore, it is best to verify with your specific State to ensure all requirements are being met.

Step 5 &#; Pay Rent, Security Deposit and Obtain Occupancy


The landlord will usually wait until the 1st month&#;s rent and security deposit (if applicable) have cleared before giving the tenant access to the property. If the rent has been prorated, meaning the tenant is able to obtain possession of the premises before the start date, then the money for the initial period will be required as well.

Afterward, the tenant may be granted occupancy where all necessary keys, fabs, and access will be transferred and the tenant will officially be allowed to move-in.

What happens if the Landlord or Tenant violates the lease?

If the landlord is in violation, the tenant will be required to send a certified letter stating the breach and after a certain number (#) days pass the tenant will be allowed to terminate the lease. In addition, the tenant may be entitled to damages.

    • Examples: Not making a necessary repair, not removing snow from the parking area, accessing the property without tenant&#;s permission, etc.

If the tenant is in violation, the landlord will be required to give the tenant a notice to quit that describes the violation and how to &#;cure&#; the issue. The tenant will only have a certain number (#) of days in accordance with State law. For example, in most States a tenant that it late on rent will commonly have three (3) to fourteen (14) days to pay or vacate the property.

    • Examples: Not paying rent on time, playing music too loud, damage to the premises, etc.

How to get out of a Lease?

In order to cancel a standard lease, the tenant will be required to get the landlord&#;s written consent to terminate the contract. The greatest fear of a landlord is to evict a tenant which can lead to a loss of rent for months. Therefore, most landlords will accept a termination request if the tenant can exemplify financial hardship.

In most cases, the landlord will require the security deposit to be used as a fee for granting the termination.

How much can a Tenant afford?

This question is ultimately up to the tenant. Landlords will require that the tenant&#;s income is greater than 40 times the rent amount. For example, if the rent is $1, per month the tenant will need to make at least $40, per year.

How does a &#;Lease to Own&#; work?

A lease to own agreement is when the landlord and tenant come to an agreement for the renting of the home, just like a standard lease, with an option to purchase before the lease end date. The terms of the purchase portion of the agreement are up to the landlord and tenant.

Lease to Own vs Lease Option

  • Lease to Own &#; Tenant has the option to purchase the property at any time during the lease period.
  • Lease Option &#; Tenant has the option to purchase the property only at the end of the lease period.

Can a Tenant pay rent with a Credit Card?

Yes. If the landlord does not accept credit card, the tenant may use Plastiq (2,5% fee) to have the funds sent by check in the mail, ACH, or wire transfer.

Can a Tenant sublease the Property?

In most standard lease agreements, the tenant is prohibited from subleasing which is the act of renting the property to someone else. If the tenant would like to sublease the property, in most cases, they will have to get written consent from the landlord. The landlord has every right to reject the request.

Required Disclosures

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure &#; Federal law, 42 U.S. Code § d, requiring all residences built before to have this document attached to the lease and signed by the tenants. In addition, the landlord must give This Handout (Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home).

Move-in Checklist (Inspection) &#; Some States require this form to be completed by the landlord and tenant at the start of the lease if there was a security deposit collected. This will allow both parties to write down any existing damage on the premises in the chance the landlord claims that damage, that was pre-existing, was the fault of the tenant.

Commercial Lease Agreement Template Creation -

Rental and Lease Agreement Templates

A lease agreement (or rental agreement) is a document that explains the terms under which a tenant rents a residential or commercial property from a landlord.

Lease agreements are legally-binding contracts that explain the obligations and rights of both the tenant and landlord. Even if you’re just renting out a room in your house to a friend or family member, you need a lease agreement for legal protection in case you encounter problems with your tenants.

Find your free printable rental/lease agreement by type below and use it to rent out a property.

Table of Contents

  1. Residential Lease Agreement Forms [For Landlords]
  2. Sublease Agreement Forms [For Tenants]
  3. Commercial/Other Lease Agreement Forms
  4. Frequently Asked Questions
  5. Sample Residential Lease Agreement [& Forms by State]
  6. Legal Information & Guides for Landlords

Residential Lease Agreement Sample Forms [For Landlords]

Standard Lease Agreement

Use a standard lease agreement to rent out a residential property for a fixed period of typically one year. This agreement includes the most essential and common clauses, and can be used for a house, apartment, studio, condo, duplex, townhouse, basement, or mobile home. Standard lease agreements differ by state, so be sure to check the requirements for your property.

sample image of a month to month lease agreement

Month-to-Month Rental Agreement

Use a month-to-month rental agreement if you don’t want to commit to renting out your property for a full year or more, but still need to protect your rights. Using a monthly lease allows you (and your tenant) to be flexible.

sample image of a short term rental agreement

Short Term (Vacation) Rental Agreement

Use a short term rental agreement to rent out your property for a short period of time (usually between 1–31 days), most commonly as a vacation rental. A short-term rental agreement explains to guests the rules of their stay, and what they can expect when they arrive.

Sample Sublease Agreement Forms [For Tenants]

sublease agreement

Sublease Agreement

Use a sublease agreement to rent out a property (or just a room) when you’re already renting the property from another landlord. For example, you may want to sublet a property if you need to move out but don’t want to break your lease.

Room Rental Agreement Template

Room Rental Agreement

Use a room rental agreement when you’re renting out a room in your property and need to set rules and boundaries. For example, you can use this agreement to explain how you'll divide rent and utility payments, and whether your tenant can have guests visit.

Sample Commercial/Other Lease Agreement Forms

sample image of a commercial lease agreement

Commercial Lease Agreement

Use a commercial lease agreement if you’re renting out an office building, retail space, restaurant, industrial facility, or any property where the tenant will operate a business.

sample image of a land lease agreement

Land Lease Agreement

Use a land lease agreement to rent out a piece of land that does not have a property on it. A land or ground lease can have multiple purposes, including agricultural, residential, and commercial.

sample image of a lease purchase agreement also known as a rent to own agreement

Rent-to-Own Lease Agreement

Use a rent-to-own lease agreement to give the tenant the option to purchase the property at the end of the agreement. This type of lease helps a tenant who cannot purchase a property right away, and allows the seller to receive a steady income.

You can further support your original lease agreement by modifying the terms with a lease amendment. Additionally, you can end an existing lease with a lease termination letter, or extend a rental for another term with a lease renewal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Lease?

A lease is a legally-binding contract used when a landlord (the “lessor”) rents out a property to a tenant (the “lessee”). This written agreement states the terms of the rental, such as how long the tenant will rent the property and how much they will pay, in addition to the repercussions for breaking the agreement.

A lease is also commonly called a lease agreement, a rental agreement, a rental contract, a lease form, a rental lease agreement, an apartment lease, a tenancy agreement, and a house rental agreement.

Why Do I Need a Lease Agreement?

You need a lease agreement because it explains your responsibilities as a landlord, sets rules for the tenants living in your property, and is often required by state law. Having a lease agreement helps you avoid disputes with your tenants and fix problems when they arise.

If you rent out a property but don’t use a lease agreement, you could lose rent money, be liable for illegal activities on the property, receive penalties for unpaid utility costs, or spend a lot of money on property damage repairs and lawyer fees. Anyone who rents out a home, land, or a commercial building should have a lease agreement.

All adult tenants must be given a copy of the lease agreement after they sign it. Landlords and property managers should also keep a copy on file.

How Do I Rent Out a Room in My House?

You rent out a room in your house by using a lease agreement that states you’re just renting out a room, and not the entire property. If you’re a tenant living in a rental property, you can sublet a room to another tenant using a room rental agreement.

Both a standard residential lease and a room rental agreement allow you to establish quiet hours, times guests can visit, how to divide utility payments, and set rules regarding pets, smoking, and parking.

To rent out a room, both parties sign the agreement and the landlord collects a security deposit from the tenant before handing over the keys.

What&#;s the Difference Between a Lease and a Rental Agreement?

The difference between a lease and a rental agreement is the duration of the contract. Lease agreements are typically long term contracts (12 to 24 months), whereas rental agreements are usually short-term (a few weeks or months).

If you’re deciding whether a lease or rent is best for you, remember that a lease agreement provides more security, but a rental agreement offers more flexibility.

What Are My Responsibilities as a Landlord?

Your responsibilities as a landlord include the following:

  • Repairing and maintaining the normal wear and tear of appliances like the air conditioner or heater.
  • Respecting a tenant’s right to “quiet enjoyment” (living without disturbances). For example, not making unnecessary visits to the property, and dealing with problems that cause noise (such as dogs barking).
  • Providing a safe and clean home to the tenant for the term of the lease. Examples include getting rid of mold, resolving water damage, and fixing ventilation problems.
  • Returning the tenant’s security deposit if the tenant treats the property with respect, and it’s in good condition at the end of the lease term.
  • Giving the tenant advance notice when you need to enter the premises to fix something or show someone the property.

Landlords’ responsibilities differ according to state landlord–tenant laws, which describe how a landlord should handle access to the property, security deposits, and evictions.

What Happens if a Tenant Violates a Lease?

If a tenant violates a lease, the landlord may try to resolve the problem by giving the tenant a chance to fix it (unless the violation is major, such as using the property to sell or manufacture illegal drugs). If the issue is not resolved within a certain time period (as set by state law), the landlord can begin the eviction process to remove the tenant.

Common lease violations include unpaid rent and utility bills, damage to the property, and the tenant breaking the law.

What Should I Include in a Lease Agreement?

You should include the following information and clauses in a lease agreement:

  • Names of all tenants: write the names of every adult who will be living in the property.
  • Term: state the duration of the lease, and whether it’s for a fixed term or will automatically renew.
  • Rent: set the amount of money the tenant will pay in order to live in the property, and which day of the month the rent will be paid on.
  • Premises: describe the property and where it is located.
  • Securitydeposit: assign an amount of money the tenant will give the landlord to hold in case of any damages

Depending on your property and where it is located, you may need to include some common disclosure and addendums that address specific situations such as smoking or pets.

Sample Residential Lease Agreement [& Forms by State]

The following standard residential lease agreement works for all states except California, Florida, and Washington, DC.

Standard Residential Lease Agreement

State of __________Rev. C5EE


This Lease Agreement (this “Agreement”) is made as of this __________, by and between __________ (“Landlord”) and __________ (“Tenant”). Each Landlord and Tenant may be referred to individually as a “Party” and collectively as the “Parties.”

  1. Premises. The premises leased is __________ located at __________, __________, __________ __________ (the “Premises”).
  1. Agreement toLease. Landlord agrees to lease to Tenant and Tenant agrees to lease from Landlord, according to the terms and conditions set forth herein, the Premises.
  1. Term. This Agreement will be for a term beginning on __________ and ending on __________ (the “Term”).
  1. Rent. Tenant will pay Landlord a monthly rent of __________ for the Term. Rent will be payable in advance and due on the __________ day of each month during the Term. The first rent payment is payable to Landlord when Tenant signs this Agreement. Rent for any period during the Term which is for less than one month will be a pro rata portion of the monthly installment. Rent will be paid to Landlord at Landlord&#;s address provided herein (or to such other places as directed by Landlord) by mail or in person by one of the following methods: and will be payable in U.S. Dollars.
  1. Guaranty. __________ located at __________, __________, __________ __________ (“Guarantor”) promises to unconditionally guarantee to Landlord, the full payment and performance by Tenant of all financial duties and obligations arising out of this Agreement. Guarantor agrees to joint and several liability with Tenant for Tenant’s financial duties and obligations under this Agreement including rent, damages, fees and costs. Guarantor further agrees that this guaranty shall remain in full force and effect and be binding on Guarantor until this Agreement is terminated.
  1. Late Fee. Rent paid after the __________ day of each month will be deemed as late; and if rent is not paid within __________ days after such due date, Tenant agrees to pay a late charge of __________.
  1. Additional Rent. There may be instances under this Agreement where Tenant may be required to pay additional charges to Landlord. All such charges are considered additional rent under this Agreement and will be paid with the next regularly scheduled rent payment. Landlord has the same rights and Tenant has the same obligations with respect to additional rent as they do with rent.
  1. Utilities. Tenant is responsible for payment of all utility and other services for the Premises.
  1. Security Deposit. Upon signing this Agreement, Tenant will pay a security deposit in the amount of __________ to Landlord. The security deposit will be retained by Landlord as security for Tenant’s performance of its obligations under this Agreement. The security deposit may not be used or deducted by Tenant as the last month’s rent of the Term.Tenant will be entitled to a full refund of the security deposit if Tenant returns possession of the Premises to Landlord in the same condition as accepted, ordinary wear and tear excepted. Within __________ days after the termination of this Agreement, Landlord will return the security deposit to Tenant (minus any amount applied by Landlord in accordance with this section). Any reason for retaining a portion of the security deposit will be explained in writing. The security deposit will not bear interest while held by Landlord in accordance with applicable state laws and/or local ordinances.
  1. Landlord&#;s Failure to Give Possession. In the event Landlord is unable to give possession of the Premises to Tenant on the start date of the Term, Landlord will not be subject to any liability for such failure, the validity of this Agreement will not be affected, and the Term will not be extended. Tenant will not be liable for rent until Landlord gives possession of the Premises to Tenant.
  1. Holdover Tenancy. Unless this Agreement has been extended by mutual written agreement of the Parties, there will be no holding over past the Term under the terms of this Agreement under any circumstances. If it becomes necessary to commence legal action to remove Tenant from the Premises, the prevailing Party will be entitled to attorney’s fees and costs in addition to damages.
  1. Use of Premises. The Premises will be occupied only by Tenant and Tenant&#;s immediate family and used only for residential purposes. Tenant will not engage in any objectionable conduct, including behavior which will make the Premises less fit to live in, will cause dangerous, hazardous or unsanitary conditions or will interfere with the rights of others to enjoy their property. Tenant will be liable for any damage occurring to the Premises and any damage to or loss of the contents thereof which is done by Tenant or Tenant’s guests or invitees.
  1. Condition of the Premises. Tenant has examined the Premises, including the appliances, fixtures and furnishings, and acknowledges that they are in good condition and repair, normal wear and tear excepted and accepts them in its current condition.
  1. Maintenance and Repairs. Tenant will maintain the Premises, including the grounds and all appliances, fixtures and furnishings, in clean, sanitary and good condition and repair. Tenant will not remove Landlord’s appliances, fixtures, or furnishings from the Premises for any purpose. If repairs other than general maintenance are required, Tenant will notify Landlord for such repairs. In the event of default by Tenant, Tenant will reimburse Landlord for the cost of any repairs or replacement.
  1. Reasonable Accommodations. Landlord agrees to comply with all applicable laws providing equal housing opportunities, including making reasonable accommodations for known physical or mental limitations of qualified individuals with a disability, unless undue hardship would result. Tenant is responsible for making Landlord aware of any such required accommodations that are reasonable and will not impose an undue hardship. If Tenant discloses a disability and requests an accommodation, Landlord has the right to have a qualified healthcare provider verify the disability if the disability is not readily apparent, and Landlord has the right to use the qualified healthcare provider verifying the disability as a resource for providing the reasonable accommodation.
  1. Sex Offender Registry. Pursuant to law, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public. Tenant understands and agrees that Tenant is solely responsible for obtaining any and all information contained in the state or national sex offender registry for the area surrounding the Premises, which can be obtained online or from the local sheriff’s department or other appropriate law enforcement officials. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and zip code in which he or she resides.
  1. Compliance. Tenant agrees to comply with all applicable laws, ordinances, requirements and regulations of any federal, state, county, municipal or other authority.
  1. Mechanics’ Lien. Tenant understands and agrees that Tenant and anyone acting on Tenant’s behalf do not have the right to file for mechanic’s liens or any other kind of liens on the Premises. Tenant agrees to give actual advance notice to any contractors, subcontractors or suppliers of goods, labor or services that such liens are invalid. Tenant further agrees to take the additional steps necessary to keep the Premises free of any and all liens that may result from construction completed by or for Tenant.
  1. Subordination. With respect to the Premises, this Agreement is subordinate to any mortgage that now exists, or may be given later by Landlord.
  1. Alterations. Tenant will not make any alteration, addition or improvement to the Premises without first obtaining Landlord’s written consent. Any and all alterations, additions or improvements to the Premises are without payment to Tenant and will become Landlord’s property immediately on completion and remain on the Premises, unless Landlord requests or permits removal, in which case Tenant will return that part of the Premises to the same condition as existed prior to the alteration, addition or improvement. Tenant will not change any existing locks or install any additional locks on the Premises without first obtaining Landlord&#;s written consent and without providing Landlord a copy of all keys.
  1. Smoking. Smoking of any kind is strictly prohibited on any part of the Premises. This prohibition applies to Tenant and any visitor, guest or other occupant on the Premises.
  1. Pets. Tenant is not allowed to have or keep any pets, even temporarily, on any part of the Premises. The unauthorized presence of any pet will subject Tenant to penalties, damages, deductions and/or termination of this Agreement. Properly trained service animals that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities may be permitted on the Premises with the prior written consent of Landlord, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. Tenant will be responsible for the costs of de-fleaing, deodorizing and/or shampooing all or any portion of the Premises if a pet has been on the Premises at any time during the Term (whether with or without written consent of Landlord).
  1. Fire and Casualty. If the Premises are damaged by fire or other serious disaster or accident and the Premises becomes uninhabitable as a result, Tenant may immediately vacate the Premises and terminate this Agreement upon notice to Landlord. Tenant will be responsible for any unpaid rent or will receive any prepaid rent up to the day of such fire, disaster or accident. If the Premises are only partially damaged and inhabitable, Landlord may make full repairs and will do so within a prompt and reasonable amount of time. At the discretion of Landlord, the rent may be reduced while the repairs are being made.
  1. Liability. Landlord is not responsible or liable for any loss, claim, damage or expense as a result of any accident, injury or damage to any person or property occurring anywhere on the Premises, unless resulting from the negligence or willful misconduct of Landlord.
  1. Renter’s Insurance. Tenant is required to obtain, and maintain at all times during the Term, a renter’s insurance policy with a minimum of $, personal liability coverage. Tenant will name Landlord as an interested party or additional insured. Tenant will provide Landlord with a certificate or proof of insurance upon request.
  1. Assignment and Subletting. Tenant will not assign this Agreement as to any portion or all of the Premises or make or permit any total or partial sublease or other transfer of any portion or all of the Premises.
  1. Insurance Requirements. Tenant will not do or permit to be done any act or thing that will increase the insurance risk under any policy of insurance covering the Premises. If the premium for such policy of insurance increases due to a breach of Tenant’s obligations under this Agreement, Tenant will pay the additional amount of premium as additional rent under this Agreement.
  1. Right of Entry. Landlord or its agents may enter the Premises at reasonable times to inspect the Premises, to make any alternations, improvements or repairs or to show the Premises to a prospective tenant, buyer or lender. In the event of an emergency, Landlord may enter the Premises at any time.
  1. Surrender. Tenant will deliver and surrender to Landlord possession of the Premises immediately upon the expiration of the Term or the termination of this Agreement, clean and in as good condition and repair as the Premises was at the commencement of the Term, reasonable wear and tear excepted.
  1. Default. In the event of any default under this Agreement, Landlord may provide Tenant a notice of default and an opportunity to correct such default. If Tenant fails to correct the default, other than a failure to pay rent or additional rent, Landlord may terminate this Agreement by giving a __________ day written notice. If the default is Tenant’s failure to timely pay rent or additional rent as specified in this Agreement, Landlord may terminate this Agreement by giving a __________ day written notice to Tenant. After termination of this Agreement, Tenant remains liable for any rent, additional late, costs, including costs to remedy any defaults, and damages under this Agreement.
  1. Remedies. If this Agreement is terminated due to Tenant’s default, Landlord may, in addition to any rights and remedies available under this Agreement and applicable law, use any dispossession, eviction or other similar legal proceeding available in law or equity.
  1. Subordination. This Agreement and Tenant’s right under it shall be subject and subordinate to the lien, operation and effect of each existing or future mortgage, deed of trust, ground lease and/or any other similar instrument of encumbrance covering any or all of the Premises, if any, and each renewal, modification, consolidation, replacement or extension thereof.
  1. Condemnation. If all or substantially all of the Premises are covered by a condemnation including the exercise of any power of eminent domain by a governmental authority, this Agreement shall terminate on the date possession of the Premises is taken by the condemning authority, and all rent under this Agreement shall be prorated and paid to such date. Landlord is entitled to collect from the condemning authority the entire amount of any award made in any proceeding. Tenant waives any right, title or interest which Tenant may have to any such award and agrees to not make any claim for the Term of this Agreement.
  1. Hazardous Materials. Tenant shall not keep on the Premises any item of a dangerous, flammable, or explosive character that might unreasonably increase the danger of fire or explosion on the Premises or that might be considered hazardous or extra hazardous by any responsible insurance company.
  1. Notices. All notices given under this Agreement must be in writing. A notice is effective upon receipt and shall be delivered in person, sent via certified or registered mail to the following addresses (or to another address that either Party may designate upon reasonable notice to the other Party):


__________, __________ __________

Notices shall be sent to the Tenant at the following address:


__________, __________ __________

  1. Quiet Enjoyment. If Tenant pays the rent and performs all other obligations under this Agreement, Tenant may peaceably and quietly hold and enjoy the Premises during the Term.
  1. No Waiver. No Party shall be deemed to have waived any provision of this Agreement or the exercise of any rights held under this Agreement unless such waiver is made expressly and in writing.
  1. Severability. If any provision of this Agreement is held to be invalid, illegal or unenforceable in whole or in part, the remaining provisions shall not be affected and shall continue to be valid, legal and enforceable as though the invalid, illegal or unenforceable part had not been included in this Agreement.
  1. Successors and Assigns. This Agreement will inure to the benefit of and be binding upon the Parties and their permitted successors and assigns.
  1. Governing Law. The terms of this Agreement and the rights and obligations of the Parties hereto shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of __________, without regard to its conflicts of laws provisions.
  1. Disputes. Any dispute arising from this Agreement shall be resolved through mediation. If the dispute cannot be resolved through mediation, then the dispute will be resolved through binding arbitration conducted in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association.
  1. Amendments. This Agreement may be amended or modified only by a written agreement signed by the Parties.
  1. Counterparts. This Agreement may be executed in one or more counterparts, each of which shall be deemed to be an original, and all of which together shall constitute one and the same document.
  1. Headings. The section headings herein are for reference purposes only and shall not otherwise affect the meaning, construction or interpretation of any provision in this Agreement.
  1. Entire Agreement. This Agreement constitutes the entire agreement between the Parties and supersedes and cancels all prior agreements of the Parties, whether written or oral, with respect to the subject matter.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the Parties hereto, individually or by their duly authorized representatives, have executed this Agreement as of the Effective Date.

Landlord SignatureLandlord Full Name
Tenant SignatureTenant Full Name
Guarantor SignatureGuarantor Full Name

To see a completed residential lease agreement, view our filled-out rental lease example.

Or, find your state-specific residential lease agreement below.

Lease/Rental Agreement Forms by State

How to Write (Fill Out) a Lease/Rental Agreement

Here’s how to write a lease by filling out our free lease agreement template:

1. Name the parties

A simple rental agreement form needs to name the parties signing the lease and where they live. First, you should write down:

  • the landlord or property management company and their current address
  • the tenant or tenants and their current address
    highlighted name section of a lease agreement template

2. Describe the premises

The “premises” are simply the exact address and type of property being rented, such as an apartment, house, or condominium.

highlighted premises section of a sample rental agreement

3. Define the term of the lease

The “term” is the length of time a tenant will rent the listed property. A standard lease agreement should detail exactly when the lease term begins and ends.

Furthermore, a lease can either be fixed-term or month-to-month.

  • A fixed-term rental lease means the agreement is set for a predetermined, or fixed, period of time. This type of lease expires on the end date listed in the agreement (usually up to 6 months, 1 year, or 2 years from the start date).
  • A month-to-month rental lease means the agreement is for a one month period with no defined end date. It continues on a per month basis until either the landlord or tenant terminates the agreement.
highlighted term section of a lease agreement example form

4. Set how much rent is owed

A lease agreement must explicitly list the monthly rental amount, and outline what the consequences are if the rent is late.

It’s up to the landlord to decide how much to charge for rent, but the cost is usually comparable to other properties within the same area.

In addition, standard rent control laws may limit the amount that you’re able to charge for rent. Check your local rent control ordinance to ensure that your lease agreement is compliant with those regulations.

highlighted rent section of a sample rental lease agreement

5. Assign a security deposit amount

A security deposit is a set amount of money usually collected at the beginning of the lease. Landlords have the right to collect a security deposit from their tenants, but what that money can be used for is strictly determined by the security deposit laws of your state.

highlight security deposit section of a free lease template

6. Finalize the lease

Once you finish discussing the details with your tenant, remember to:

  • Print &#; print at least two copies of the rental lease for you and the other party
  • Sign &#; sign and date the lease agreement form (both the tenant(s) and landlord)
  • Save &#; file a hard copy of the signed document in a safe place and consider scanning an electronic copy for extra safekeeping.

Legal Information & Guides for Landlords

Whether you’re an experienced or first-time landlord, you can use these resources and guides to understand in simple terms what the law says about leases and rental contracts:

How to Lease a Residential Property [Step by Step]

Follow the steps below to easily rent out your property:

1. Show your rental unit to tenants

landlord shaking hands with tenants in empty apartment

The first step in renting out a house or an apartment is to allow people to view the property. If a tenant likes the property and wants to move in, they will make a verbal offer regarding the monthly rent.

Hosting viewings can be inconvenient if you have multiple properties, so many landlords hire a property management company to show their rental units to potential tenants.

2. Give the tenant a rental application form to fill out

Once you agree on the rent price, the tenant needs to fill out a rental application. This form helps the tenant show that they are trustworthy, and includes information such as their:

  • Name
  • Current address
  • Place of employment
  • Income level
  • Rental references

The tenant can confirm their workplace using an employment verification letter. This document is also an easy way for renters to show proof of income.

Typically, landlords require a small, nonrefundable fee from the tenant in order to process the rental application.

3. Run a background and credit check

landlord or property manager using a computer to run a credit and background check

After reviewing the tenant’s application, you should run a background check (and/or a credit check). Tenant screening like this can help you avoid scams and problem tenants. The cost is usually paid for by the tenant.

A background check shows if the applicant has a prior criminal history, and a credit check confirms whether the applicant has good or bad credit. Bad credit may be a sign of poor financial planning, which could result in missed rent payments.

Although these checks help you avoid dealing with bad tenants, you shouldn’t base your decision to rent the property solely on the results. Many states have strict guidelines on tenant discrimination. Refusing tenancy because of minor criminal offenses or bad credit may be justifiably considered a violation of federal anti-discrimination law.

4. Check the tenant’s references

landlord on the phone calling and checking a tenant's references

Next, you need to check the references that the tenant included in their rental application form mentioned in step 2 above.

You should contact the references and ask questions such as:

  • Did the applicant pay their rent and utilities on time?
  • Were there any noise complaints at the tenant’s previous apartment?
  • Have the police ever been called to the tenant’s last rental unit?
  • Would you consider renting to this person again?

Rental references are usually current or previous landlords, and can give you insight into the tenant’s character and behavior.

5. Create a lease agreement

landlord handing apartment keys to new tenant

Once you’re happy to rent out your property to a tenant, you need to create a lease/rental agreement in the correct format.

You make a lease agreement by writing it yourself from scratch, filling in a blank lease agreement template that includes all the necessary clauses, or using a lease agreement builder to create a lease specific to your property.

Remember to include:

After you’ve created the lease contract and gone over everything with your new tenant, both parties sign the agreement. You may need to calculate prorated rent depending on when the tenant moves in.

6. Hand over the keys

Once the lease agreement is completed and signed, give the tenant the keys so they can move in to the property.

To finish the process, a final walkthrough of the unit should be done alongside the tenant. Bring a rental inspection checklist with you, and document the condition of the property before the tenant moves in.

Common Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums

Because each rental property is different and laws vary by state, your lease agreement may require additional disclosures and addendums. These documents, attached separately to your lease agreement, inform new or current tenants about issues with your property and their rights.

Download the most common disclosures and addendums below in MS Word (.docx) or Adobe PDF format:

  • Asbestos Disclosure (Word) – notifies tenants of the existence of asbestos at the property (required for properties built before ).
  • Bed Bug Addendum (Word) – explains how both parties should act in the event of a bedbug infestation.
  • Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detector Addendum (Word)– states whether the landlord will provide carbon monoxide/smoke detectors, and how the tenant is responsible for keeping them in good condition.
  • Death in Rental Unit Disclosure (Word) – informs the tenant if anyone previously died in the property.
  • Disclosure of Lead-Based Hazards (PDF) – notifies tenants of the existence of lead-based paint or other materials (required for properties built before ).
  • Flood Hazard Area Disclosure (Word) – states whether the property is located in a special flood hazard area.
  • Foreclosure Notice (Word) – should be provided to the tenant during the lease if you need to explain that the rental agreement terminates on a specified date.
  • Illegal Substance Contamination Disclosure (Word) – notifies the tenant if parts of the property have been contaminated by the manufacturing or storage of an illegal substance (such as methamphetamine).
  • Mold Disclosure (Word) – notifies the tenant that the property contains or may contain mold, and whether the landlord will fix it.
  • Notice of Abandoned Personal Property (Word) – tells the tenant that they left something in the unit when they moved out, and that they need to collect it before it’s thrown out.
  • Pet Addendum (Word) – a pet addendum states the rules regarding pets at the property.
  • Shared Utilities Disclosure (Word) – explains how how utilities are calculated and shared between multiple residents
  • Smoking Lease Addendum (PDF) – a smoking lease addendum tells the tenant whether they can smoke tobacco or marijuana on the property

Landlord and Tenant Laws by State

Federal law recognizes that landlords and tenants have individual legal rights and obligations. Find out what the law in your state says about your rights using the table below, or check the following specific laws for your property:

State Laws on Landlord’s Access to Rental Property

Tenants have the right to privacy when they rent a property. However, there may be situations when a landlord needs to access the property, such as for maintenance or inspections.

Nearly every state requires a landlord to give advance notice to their tenants before they access a rental unit. Use the table below to check how much notice you need to give in your state, and check the relevant law:

Security Deposit Laws

Each state regulates the maximum amount of money a landlord can collect from a tenant as a security deposit. Some states also require landlords to return security deposits to their tenants within a certain amount of time (potentially with interest).

Usually, a landlord can deduct the following costs from the tenant’s security deposit:

  • Unpaid rent
  • Cleaning costs
  • Key replacement costs
  • Cost to repair damages above ordinary wear and tear
  • Any other amount legally allowable under the lease

Use the table below to see the maximum security deposit limit in your state, whether it needs to be held in a separate account, and how much time you have to refund it after the lease ends:

StateMaximum Deposit LimitHeld in Separate AccountRefundLaw
AL1 month's rentNot required35 days to return deposit§ A
AK2 months' rent, unless monthly rent is greater than $Escrow account required- 14 days to return deposit
- 30 days to return deposit if tenant doesn't provide proper notice
AZ1½ months' rent, unless tenant volunteers to pay moreNot required14 days to return deposit§
AR2 months' rent unless landlord owns fewer than 6 rental unitsNot required60 days to return deposit§ ,
CA2 months rent (if unfurnished) or 3 months' rent (if furnished)Not required21 days to return depositCivil Code
CONo regulationNot required- 30 days to return deposit unless otherwise stated in the lease
- 60 days maximum if not stated in the lease
§ ,
CT- 2 months' rent if tenant is under 62 years old
- 1 month's rent if tenant is over 62 years old
Interest-bearing account required30 days to return deposit§ 47a to 47aa
DE1 month's rent for 1-year lease agreements (if unfurnished)Escrow account required30 days to return depositTitle 25, Chapter 53
FLNo regulationInterest-bearing or non interest-bearing escrow account required (landlord's choice)- 15 days to return deposit
- 30 days if any amount is retained
GANo regulationEscrow account required except if landlord owns fewer than 11 rental units (unless managed by a third party)30 days to return deposit§ to
HI1 month's rentNot required14 days to return deposit§
IDNo regulationNot required- 21 days to return deposit unless otherwise stated in the lease
- 30 days maximum if not stated in the lease
ILNo regulationNot required45 days to return deposit ILCS /
INNo regulationNot required- 21 days to return deposit unless otherwise stated in the lease
- 30 days maximum if not stated in the lease
IA2 months' rentFederally-insured account required30 days to return deposit§ A
KS1 month's rent (if unfurnished) or 1½ months' rent (if furnished)Not required30 days to return deposit§
KYNo regulationEscrow account required30 days to return deposit§
LANo regulationNot required30 days to return depositRS
ME2 months' rentNot required30 days to return depositChapter A
MD2 months' rentEscrow account required45 days to return deposit§
MA1 month's rentInterest-bearing escrow account required30 days to return depositChapter , Section 15B
MI1½ months' rentNot required30 days to return deposit§ to
MNNo regulationNot required21 days to return deposit§ B
MSNo regulationNot required45 days to return deposit§
MO2 months' rentNot required30 days to return deposit§
MTNo regulationNot required- 10 days to return deposit
- 30 days if any amount is retained
§ to
NE1 month's rentNot required14 days to return deposit§
NV3 months' rentNot required30 days to return deposit§ A to A
NH1 month's rent or $ (whichever is greater)Not required30 days to return deposit§ A:6 to A:8
NJ1½ months' rentNot required30 days to return deposit§
NM- 1 month's rent for lease terms less than 1 year
- No limit for lease terms greater than 1 year
Not required30 days to return deposit§
NYNo regulationNot required14 days to return depositEmergency Tenant Protection Act /74
NC- 2 weeks' rent for week-to-week lease agreements
- 1½ months' rent for month-to-month lease agreements
- 2 months' rent for yearly leases
Trust account or bank bond required- 30 days to return deposit
- 60 days to return deposit if damages exceed 1 month's rent
Article 6 Tenant Security Deposit Act
ND1 month's rentEscrow account required30 days to return deposit§
OHNo regulationNot required30 days to return deposit§
OKNo regulationFederally-insured escrow account required30 days to return depositTitle 41 §
ORNo regulationNot required31 days to return depositORS
PA2 months' rentEscrow account required for deposits greater than $ or any amount held for longer than 2 years30 days to return depositLandlord Tenant Act Section
RI1 month's rentNot required20 days to return deposit§
SCNo regulationNot required30 days to return deposit§
SD1 month's rentNot required14 days to return deposit§ , §
TNNo regulationEscrow account required30 days to return deposit§
TXNo regulationNot required30 days to return deposit§ -
UTNo regulationNot required30 days to return depositTitle 57 Chapter 17
VTNo regulationNot required14 days to return deposit9 V.S.A. §
VA2 months' rentNot required45 days to return deposit§
WANo regulationEscrow account required21 days to return deposit§ , -
WVNo regulationNot required60 days to return depositChapter 37 Article 6A
WINo regulationNot required21 days to return depositATCP §
WYNo regulationNot required- 30 days to return deposit
- 60 days if any amount is retained

Eviction Laws

If a tenant is causing problems or not paying rent, the landlord can evict them from the property using an eviction notice.

Use the table below to find out which type of notice you need to provide, and which laws apply:

StateNotice to Quit or LeaveNotice to Pay or LeaveLaw
Alabama14 days7 days§ A
Alaska10 days7 days§ , §
Arizona10 days5 days§
Arkansas14 days5 days§ , §
California3 days3 daysCode of Civil Procedure
Colorado3 days3 days§ , §
Connecticut15 days3 days§ 47a
Delaware7 days5 daysTitle 25, Chapter 55 § , Title 25, Chapter 55 §
Florida7 days3 days§
Georgia0 daysDependent on lease agreement§
Hawaii10 days5 days§ , §
Idaho3 days3 days§
Illinois10 days5 days ILCS 5/, ILCS 5/
Indiana0 days10 days§ to §
Iowa7 days3 days§ A
Kansas- 14 days to cure
- 30 days to vacate
- 3 days
- 5 days if notice is mailed
§ , §
Kentucky14 days7 days§ , §
Louisiana5 days5 daysCCP
Maine7 days7 daysChapter , Title 14 §
Maryland30 daysDependent on lease agreement§ to
Massachusetts0 days14 daysChapter , Section 11, 11A
Michigan0 days7 days§ , §
Minnesota0 daysDependent on lease agreement§ B
Mississippi30 days3 days§ , §
Missouri0 daysDependent on lease agreement§ , §
Montana- 14 days
- 3 days if pet or guest problem
3 days§
Nebraska- 14 days to cure
- 30 days to vacate
3 days§
Nevada5 days5 days§
New Hampshire30 days7 days§
New Jersey30 daysDependent on lease agreementN.J.S.A. 2A
New Mexico7 days3 days§
New York0 days or dependent on the lease agreement3 days§ , §
North Carolina0 days10 days§
North Dakota3 days3 days§
Ohio3 days3 days§ , §
Oklahoma- 10 days to cure
- 15 days to vacate
5 daysTitle 41 § ,
Oregon14 days3 daysORS ,
Pennsylvania- 15 days
- 30 days if tenant has lived there for over one year
10 daysLandlord Tenant Act Section
Rhode Island21 days5 days§ , §
South Carolina14 days5 days§
South Dakota3 days3 days§ , §
Tennessee- 14 days to cure
- 30 days to vacate
14 days§ , §
Texas3 days3 days§
Utah3 days3 daysTitle 78B Chapter 6 §
Vermont30 days14 days9 V.S.A. §
Virginia- 21 days to cure
- 30 days to vacate
5 days§ , §
Washington10 days3 days§
West Virginia0 daysDependent on lease agreementChapter 55 Article 3A
Wisconsin5 days5 days§
Wyoming3 days3 days§

Rental/Lease Agreement Glossary

Here are some useful definitions for the legal language commonly used in lease and rental agreement forms:

  • Access: the right to enter a property.
  • Accidents: manmade or naturally occurring events that may damage a property (fire, flood, earthquake, etc.).
  • Alterations: modifications made to a property.
  • Appliances: common home equipment like a refrigerator or dishwasher.
  • Assignment: the transfer of interest in a lease.
  • AttorneyFees: a payment made to a lawyer.
  • Condemnation: the government seizure of private property for a public purpose such as the construction of a highway.
  • Default: when a breach of contract occurs and persists such as not paying rent or violating other terms of a rental lease agreement.
  • Furniture: common home equipment such as couches, tables, beds, etc.
  • Guarantor/ Co-Signer: someone that is held accountable for paying rent if the tenant is unable to do so.
  • Guests: short-term occupants of a rental property.
  • Joint and several liability: where two or more people are independently held accountable for damages, regardless of who is at fault.
  • Late Rent Fee: an additional, reasonable sum of money paid by a tenant after making a rent payment past the due date listed in the lease agreement.
  • Noise Policy: a provision of a lease agreement outlining “quiet hours” in the apartment building, condominium, or neighborhood.
  • Notice: a written announcement of some fact or observation.
  • Option to Purchase: the tenant’s right to purchase a piece of rental property at a later date.
  • Parking: designated spaces where the tenant can keep their vehicles.
  • Pet Policy: the permission or restriction of a tenant’s ability to have an animal in a rental property.
  • Property Maintenance: the process of preserving a rental unit and who is responsible for doing so. Such as cutting the grass, taking out the garbage, or unclogging the kitchen and bathroom drains.
  • Renewal: a tenant’s option to continue the lease.
  • Renter’s Insurance: a paid policy which protects personal belongings against theft or damage.
  • Severability: a clause of a lease stating that if one part of the agreement is invalid for any reason, the rest of the lease is still enforceable.
  • Smoking Policy: the permission or restriction of a tenant’s ability to smoke inside a rental property.
  • Sublet: a temporary housing arrangement between a current tenant and a new tenant to rent all or part of the currently leased property. The subletting period must be for less than the lease term.
  • Successor: someone who takes over the obligations of a lease from a tenant or landlord.
  • Utilities: a public or private service supplying electricity, water, gas, or trash collection to a property.
  • Waterbed: a water-filled furnishing used to sleep and not typically permitted in most rental properties

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Let's be honest, since we started. The step is far from the last. But not the first. He is decisive. There is no going back, but I dont want to go back.

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