- What Is a Lease Agreement
- Lease Agreement Templates by State
- Standard Rental / Lease Agreement
- Simple Lease vs Month-to-Month Rental Agreement
- What Does a Residential Lease Agreement Include
- How to Write a Rental / Lease Agreement
- Security Deposit Laws (by State)
- Violation of a Lease Agreement
- Lease Agreement Sample
- Rental and Lease Agreement FAQs
Residential Lease Agreement
What Is a Lease Agreement
A lease is a contract between a tenant and landlord that allows the tenant to take temporary ownership of the property in exchange for regular rental payments. Around 100 million Americans live in rental properties, and many of these people have entered into residential lease agreements.
Leases are usually longer-term contracts covering many months (see month-to-month agreement) or years, and they have set terms that cannot be changed frequently. A lease agreement is a binding legal contract between both parties, and it usually specifies fees, the duration of the lease, and other rules.
Various types of leases can be used depending on the type of property being offered to tenants, including residential, commercial, industrial, advertising, and rent-to-own leases. In certain cases, a lease contract may also be used for other valuable items such as tools and expensive machinery, this is known as an equipment lease.
Lease Agreement Templates by State
Standard Rental / Lease Agreement
A standard lease agreement is a landlord-tenant contract that typically has a duration of at least a year. It includes various standard sections as well as specific provisions which depend on the property, state, and type of lease in question.
Once the agreement has been signed, it becomes legally binding. This means that if any of the conditions are broken by either party, specific legal actions will be applied. These vary from state to state, so it’s necessary to familiarize yourself with the laws of the state in which the property is located.
However, any type of lease agreement, whether it’s standard or not, will have certain legal repercussions if the conditions are broken by one of the two parties.
Simple Lease vs Month-to-Month Rental Agreement
The key difference between a simple lease and a month-to-month lease agreement is the term duration. While standard lease agreements are fixed term, with predefined start and end dates, month-to-month leases renew every month.
This also means that either party can terminate or alter the conditions of a month-to-month lease (with notice). On the other hand, neither party can change or end a standard lease early.
What Does a Residential Lease Agreement Include
As a binding legal contract between the landlord and the tenant, there are many key pieces of information that must appear in the final signed lease agreement document. Most residential lease agreement templates must include the following details:
The names and addresses of the landlord, property manager (if applicable), and tenant(s).
The location and description of the residential premises that are to be leased.
The duration of the lease.
How often rent must be paid.
The amount of rent that must be paid for each new rental term.
Details on how much must be paid for the security deposit.
The key terms outlining how the property may and may not be used e.g. whether pets can be kept.
Information on which party is responsible for repairs and maintenance.
Any additional fees or service payments that the tenant must pay on a regular basis.
The rules on how either party must act if the agreement ends early. For example, if an eviction notice is served.
How to Write a Rental / Lease Agreement
A residential lease agreement or a rental agreement can potentially run for many months or years. Therefore, it is important that the final document covers all the right bases and accurately describes the premises, its location, and the proposed conditions of the agreement.
Most of the details listed in the section above need to find their way onto the finalized contract. To establish this information, you must first talk with the prospective tenant to decide on terms that are favorable to both parties.
Once the agreement terms are decided in principle and the tenant is sure that they want to commit to the contract, the landlord should then gather the details of the potential lessee to complete the draft document. This will also be used to screen the tenant’s credit history and criminal record prior to presenting and signing the lease agreement.
After reviewing the tenant’s circumstances, the landlord can decide whether to proceed further with the process. If everything checks out ok, the landlord or property manager and tenant can meet and sign the contract. From there, keys can be exchanged, and the tenant can be granted access to the rental premises.
Remember, a rental or lease agreement must conform to the property laws in your state. When filling out the template, remember to keep this in mind.
Using LawDistrict’s step-by-step template customization tools, you can easily select the correct form for your state. This will guide you through all the key considerations you’ll need to cover in the final contract so that no key details are missed.
Parties in a Lease Agreement
There are usually two key parties bound by a lease agreement contract. The landlord and the tenant. However, there are occasionally other stakeholders who might need to be factored in.
One such example is a property manager or rental agent. Landlords with multiple properties or rental units will often entrust the administration of their portfolio to a third party. These professionals act as an intermediary between the landlord and the tenant.
In some cases, if the property is managed by an agency or hired employee of the landlord, it will also be necessary to include them in the lease agreement. They will often sign the contract on behalf of the landlord if they have been authorized to do so.
Security Deposit Laws (by State)
Most rental properties are secured by a monetary deposit made by the tenant at the start of the agreement. Each state has its own rules on what landlords may and may not charge for this security payment.
Below you’ll find information on how much a landlord can legally demand a deposit and how quickly they must return the down payment once the agreement reaches its natural end or is terminated by agreement.
|State||Maximum Deposit Amount||Return Time|
|Alabama||1 month’s rent||60 days from termination and delivery of possession|
|Alaska||2 months’ rent (if rent is over $2,000, then no limit)||14 days if the tenant moves out on time, 30 days if not|
|Arizona||1.5 months’ rent||14 days from move-out inspection (excluding weekends and holidays)|
|Arkansas||2 months’ rent||60 days from termination|
|California||2 months’ rent (unfurnished), 3 months’ rent (furnished)||60 days from the move-out date|
|Colorado||No limit||1-month if mentioned in the lease, 2 months if not|
1 month’s rent (62 years or older)
2 months’ rent (less than 62 years old)
|30 days from the move-out date or 15 days from receiving the tenant’s new address|
|Delaware||1 month’s rent (1-year leases), no limit (all non-1-year leases)||20 days from termination|
|Florida||No limit||30 days if deductions, 15 days if no deductions|
|Georgia||No limit||1 month from termination|
|Hawaii||1 month’s rent (excluding pet fee)||14 days from termination|
|Idaho||No limit||30 days if stated in the lease, 21 days if not|
|Illinois||No limit||30 days if deductions, 45 days if no deductions|
|Indiana||No limit||45 days from termination|
|Iowa||2 months’ rent||30 days after the tenant has vacated|
|Kansas||1 month’s rent (unfurnished), 1.5 months’ rent (furnished)||30 days from termination|
|Kentucky||No limit||60 days from the lease termination date|
|Louisiana||No limit||1 month from termination|
|Maine||2 months’ rent||30 days if the lease is fixed-period, 21 days if tenancy-at-will|
|Maryland||2 months’ rent||45 days from termination|
|Massachusetts||1 month’s rent||30 days after the tenant has vacated|
|Michigan||1.5 months’ rent||30 days from move-out|
|Minnesota||No limit||3 weeks from termination|
|Mississippi||No limit||45 days from the end of tenancy|
|Missouri||2 months’ rent||30 days from the termination of tenancy|
|Montana||No limit||30 days if deductions, 10 days if no deductions|
|Nebraska||1 month’s rent (excluding pet fee)||14 days from move-out|
|Nevada||3 months’ rent||30 days from the end of tenancy|
|New Hampshire||1 month’s rent or $100, whichever is greater||30 days, 20 days if the property is shared with the landlord|
|New Jersey||1.5 months’ rent||30 days from termination|
|New Mexico||1 month’s rent (leases of 1-year and under), no limit (leases more than 1-year)||30 days from termination|
|New York||1 month’s rent unless the deposit or advance is for a seasonal use dwelling unit||14 days from move-out|
|North Carolina||2 months’ rent, for tenancy month-to-month only 1.5 months’ rent||30 days if no deductions, if deductions then an additional 30 days|
|North Dakota||1 month’s rent (no pets) 2 months’ rent (with pets)||30 days from termination|
|Ohio||No limit||30 days from termination|
|Oklahoma||No limit||45 days from termination|
|Oregon||No limit||31 days from termination|
|Pennsylvania||2 months’ rent||30 days from termination|
|Rhode Island||1 month’s rent||20 days from termination|
|South Carolina||No limit||30 days from termination|
|South Dakota||1 month’s rent||14 days if no deductions, 45 days if deductions|
|Tennessee||No limit||30 days from termination|
|Texas||No limit||30 days from move-out|
|Utah||No limit||30 days from termination|
|Vermont||No limit||14 days, 60 days if a seasonal property|
|Virginia||2 months’ rent||45 days from termination or the date the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, whichever occurs last|
|Washington||No limit||21 days from move-out|
|West Virginia||No limit||60 days unless the property is re-rented within 45 days, then immediately|
|Wisconsin||No limit||21 days from vacancy date|
|Wyoming||No limit||30 days from lease termination or 15 days from receiving the tenant’s forwarding address, whichever is lesser|
Violation of a Lease Agreement
If a lease agreement is violated by a tenant, the landlord may have the right to terminate the contract with the resident and to serve an eviction notice. If this happens, most contracts and state laws require the landlord to serve a “cure or quit” notice, which requires the tenant to correct the violation or leave within a set time period.
However, in some states, more serious violations involving property damage and illegal activity on the property could lead to the instant termination of a contract. It is therefore important to review your local property legal codes to determine in what situations you are entitled to cancel the contract immediately or when a notice period must be given.
Lease Termination Letter
When the lease comes to its natural end or the tenant violates the lease agreement, the landlord can send a lease termination letter. This indicates their intention not to renew the contract.
In most cases, these documents are used to inform renters with periodic tenancy which are renewed on a week-by-week or month-by-month basis that the landlord wishes to longer rent their property to them. This is often done if they wish to sell the property being rented.
However, a lease termination letter can also be written by the tenant asking to be released from the contract. If this happens, it will usually be at the owner or property manager’s discretion to end the lease early, depending on how the original contract is written to cover this situation.
Lease Agreement Sample
When you prepare your own residential lease agreement, it can be hard to know where to begin if you don’t have a clear idea of what the final document will look like. If you need a little extra guidance on how your final contract will appear, simply review our lease agreement sample below.
Rental and Lease Agreement FAQs
Residential lease agreements contain many intricate details and must be written with care. If you’re still unsure of what steps you may need to take to complete your document or what info you need to get down on paper read our FAQs below for more information.
What Is the Difference Between a Lease and a Rental Agreement?
The biggest difference between a lease agreement and a rental agreement is the length of the contract. In most cases, a lease allows the tenant to live in a property with the conditions set for a year or more. A rental agreement on the other hand is a rolling contract that is renewed after each rental term has lapsed, usually on a month-to-month or week-to-week basis.
Do I Need to Notarize My Residential Lease Agreement?
Usually, a residential lease agreement doesn’t need to be notarized or witnessed according to most state and federal laws. Yet, it is still recommended as a means of combatting fraud.
Signing a residential lease agreement in front of witnesses or a notary public ensures that all parties are seen to be fully aware of the terms of the contract being signed. Furthermore, it ensures that both the tenant and landlord are who they say they are and also makes the document and signatures harder to falsify.
What Happens When a Residential Lease Ends?
When a residential lease ends the landlord and tenant have the option to either continue with their current agreement or to end it permanently.
In most situations, the landlord may adjust some of the contract conditions such as the amount of rent that’s paid during each rental term. The tenant then has the option to accept the new contract or leave the property within a certain amount of time.
However, sometimes this is not an option as the landlord may no longer wish to rent the property to the tenant. If this occurs a lease termination eviction notice will usually be served.
Yet be aware, if a landlord continues to collect rent for rental terms after the contract has ended you will enter a lease holdover situation and not have the right to evict the tenant legally. You will instead have to wait until the rental term that has been paid for has ended.
How To Write a Lease Termination Letter?
If you are a landlord and you wish to end your rental contract with a tenant you should first send the renter a lease termination letter. This clearly states your desire to end the tenancy.
The letter must contain the following information:
The start date and the termination date of the contract
How many days’ notice is being given of the lease termination
The reason that the contract will not be continued
Where the security deposit can be paid (if a tenant is ending the tenancy)
Either a landlord or tenant can write this letter to indicate a desire to end a residential lease agreement or a rental agreement. However, if the renter wishes to end the contract early the landlord may still hold them to the full term unless there are clear early termination clauses that allow the agreement to be ended early.
Where Can I Get a Lease Agreement Form?
A lease agreement form can be created, customized, and completed online using LawDistrict’s step-by-step legal document making tools. All you need to do is follow the state-specific guided instructions and enter the precise information for your rental property and prospective tenant.