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Free Lease Agreement Template

Residential Lease Agreements are vital legal contracts for managing real estate. Create a comprehensive rental agreement between landlords and tenants today with our step-by-step survey and templates.

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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 or years, and they have set terms that cannot be changed frequently. 

A Lease Agreement could also be called: 

  • Home Lease Contract

  • Rent Lease Agreement

  • Residential Lease Agreement

A Lease Agreement is a binding legal contract between both parties, and it typically specifies fees, the duration of the lease, and other rules. 

While Lease Agreements are for a fixed term, it’s possible for either party to terminate or alter the conditions of a month-to-month lease (with notice). 

On the other hand, neither party can change nor end a standard lease early.

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. 

Difference Between a Lease and a Rental Agreement

In general, a Rental Agreement and a Lease Agreement cover similar terms and conditions

However, it is critical to understand the key difference between them to know which legal document to sign with your tenant. 

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.

How to Write a Lease Agreement

A Residential Lease Agreement or a Rental Agreement between a landlord and tenant can potentially run for many months or years

Therefore, it is essential to not leave out any terms, conditions, or information. Failing to include any of these details could lead to problems such as nonpayment of rent or evicting the tenant for whatever motive.

  • The names and addresses of the landlord, property manager (if applicable), and tenant(s).

    Residential Lease Agreement
  • The location and description of the residential premises that are to be leased.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Property and Occupants
  • The duration of the lease.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Term
  • How often rent must be paid.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Rent
  • The amount of rent that must be paid for each new rental term.

  • Details on how much must be paid for the security deposit.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Security Deposit
  • The key terms outlining how the property may and may not be used e.g. whether pets can be kept.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Pets
  • Information on which party is responsible for repairs and maintenance.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Management
  • Any additional fees or service payments that the tenant must pay on a regular basis.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Utilities and Services
  • The rules on how either party must act if the agreement ends early. For example, if an eviction notice is served.

    Residential Lease Agreement - Early Termination Clause

Remember, a Rental or Lease Agreement must conform to the landlord tenant laws in your state. When filling out the template, remember to keep this in mind. 

Use LawDistrict’s step-by-step Rental and Lease Agreement template toolto easily select the correct form for your state. 

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. 

Parties in a lease agreement

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

Law: § 35-9A-201

Alaska 2 months’ rent 14 days if the tenant moves out on time, 30 days if not

Law: § AS 34.03.070

Arizona 1.5 months’ rent 14 days from move-out inspection (excluding weekends and holidays)

Law: § 33-1321

Arkansas 2 months’ rent 60 days from termination

Law: § 18-16-304

California 2 months’ rent (unfurnished), 3 months’ rent (furnished) 60 days from the move-out date

Law: § 1950.5(c)

Colorado No limit 1-month if mentioned in the lease, 2 months if not

Law: § 38-12-103 (2016)

Connecticut 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

Law: § 47a-21(b)

Delaware 1 month’s rent (1-year leases), no limit (all non-1-year leases) 20 days from termination

Law: § 5514(a)(2)

Florida No limit 30 days if deductions, 15 days if no deductions

Law: § 83.49

Georgia No limit 1 month from termination

Law: § 44-7-30

Hawaii 1 month’s rent (excluding pet fee) 14 days from termination

Law: § 521-44(5)(b)

Idaho No limit 30 days if stated in the lease, 21 days if not

Law: § 6-321

Illinois No limit 30 days if deductions, 45 days if no deductions

Law: § 765 ILCS 705 to 715

Indiana No limit 45 days from termination

Law: § 32-31-3-12

Iowa 2 months’ rent 30 days after the tenant has vacated

Law: § 562A.12(1)

Kansas 1 month’s rent (unfurnished), 1.5 months’ rent (furnished) 30 days from termination

Law: § 50-2550

Kentucky No limit 60 days from the lease termination date

Law: § 383.580

Louisiana No limit 1 month from termination

Law: § RS 9:3251

Maine 2 months’ rent 30 days if the lease is fixed-period, 21 days if tenancy-at-will

Law: § 6032

Maryland 2 months’ rent 45 days from termination

Law: § 8-203(i)(3)

Massachusetts 1 month’s rent 30 days after the tenant has vacated

Law: § 15B(b)(3)

Michigan 1.5 months’ rent 30 days from move-out

Law: § 554-602

Minnesota No limit 3 weeks from termination

Law: § 504B.178

Mississippi No limit 45 days from the end of tenancy

Law: § 89-8-21

Missouri 2 months’ rent 30 days from the termination of tenancy

Law: § 535.300

Montana No limit 30 days if deductions, 10 days if no deductions

Law: § 70-25-201

Nebraska 1 month’s rent (excluding pet fee) 14 days from move-out

Law: § 76-1416

Nevada 3 months’ rent 30 days from the end of tenancy

Law: § 118A.242

New Hampshire 1 month’s rent or $100, whichever is greater 30 days, 20 days if the property is shared with the landlord

Law: § 540-A:6(1)(a)

New Jersey 1.5 months’ rent 30 days from termination

Law: § 46:8-21-2

New Mexico 1 month’s rent (leases of 1-year and under), no limit (leases more than 1-year) 30 days from termination

Law: § 47-8-18(1)

New York 1 month’s rent unless the deposit or advance is for a seasonal use dwelling unit 14 days from move-out

Law: § 7-108

North Carolina 2 months’ rent, for tenancy-at-will only 1.5 months’ rent 30 days if no deductions, if deductions then an additional 30 days

Law: § 42-51(b)

North Dakota 1 month’s rent (no pets) 2 months’ rent (with pets) 30 days from termination

Law: § 47-16-07.1

Ohio No limit 30 days from termination

Law: § 5321-16

Oklahoma No limit 45 days from termination

Law: § 415-115

Oregon No limit 31 days from termination

Law: § 90-300

Pennsylvania 2 months’ rent 30 days from termination

Law: § 250.511a

Rhode Island 1 month’s rent 20 days from termination

Law: § 34-18-19

South Carolina No limit 30 days from termination

Law: § 27-40-410

South Dakota 1 month’s rent 14 days if no deductions, 45 days if deductions

Law: § 43-32-6.1

Tennessee No limit 30 days from termination

Law: § 66-28-301

Texas No limit 30 days from move-out

Law: § PROP 92-102

Utah No limit 30 days from termination

Law: § 57-171

Vermont No limit 14 days, 60 days if a seasonal property

Law: § 137-4461

Virginia 2 months’ rent 45 days from termination or the date the tenant vacates the dwelling unit, whichever occurs last

Law: § 55.1-1226(A)

Washington No limit 21 days from move-out

Law: § 59.18.280

West Virginia No limit 60 days unless the property is re-rented within 45 days, then immediately

Law: N/A

Wisconsin No limit 21 days from vacancy date

Law: § 704.28

Wyoming No limit 30 days from lease termination or 15 days from receiving the tenant’s forwarding address, whichever is lesser

Law: § 1-21-1208 

Lease disclosures and addendums

There are several important documents you should be aware of prior to and during the signing of the agreement. 

Before the tenant’s occupancy begins, you may be obligated to disclose certain information to them.

For example, if the rental property was constructed before 1978 you must provide a Lead Based Paint Disclosure Form to the incoming renter if the substance is found on the property.

You can also add changes (or addendums) to the contract, for example, raising the price of rent

The tenant must be given formal notice in with a Rent Increase Notice. This document must be given with a certain amount of notice based on the state where the property is found. 

During the tenancy, if the tenant fails to make rental payments, you can take action. Send a Late Rent Notice to the tenant and if they continue to fail to pay, you can begin eviction proceedings. 

Lease Agreement Sample

When you prepare your 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.

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Other Real Estate Documents

In addition to Lease Agreements for tenants and landlords, there are several other legal documents that can be useful for landlords. If you are currently renting out a piece of real estate, or plan to do so in the future, it’s worth looking into the below forms:

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 Happens if a Tenant Violates a Lease?

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 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.

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 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 lawyer can provide you with a Lease Agreement document, however this is a costly option. 

A Lease Agreement form can be created, customized, and completed online using LawDistrict’s step-by-step legal document making tools.

Draft a Rental Agreementin minutes with our valid legal template. 

All you need to do is follow the state-specific guided instructions and enter the precise information for your rental property and prospective tenant.  

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