A Rental Agreement is a contract, typically in written form, made between a renter and a property owner.
At the minimum, the agreement defines the parties, rental terms, the property, and the amount and duration it will be rented for.
In a rental agreement, the property owner will be named as “lessor” while the one who will be renting is called the “lessee”. In the agreement, there must be an explicit and implied agreement regarding the specific terms agreed upon by both parties, granting that it is considered fair under the contract law.
Rental agreement templates allow landlords to draft the necessary rental agreements efficiently and conveniently. In addition, these templates allow them to include all the necessary information for their lease, ensuring that all aspects are covered.
Because of this, landlords can avoid potential issues when renting out their properties, including messy legal disputes.
Moreover, rental agreement templates can also help landlords save valuable time and resources, both now and in the future. These also allow for enhanced uniformity and consistency in their lease agreements.
Following are some free downloadable rental agreement templates for you:
Rental Agreement vs. Lease
One of the primary differences between these two is the length or duration of the agreement. Lease agreements are long-term contracts that typically last for around 6 to 12 months, with some lasting as long as 24 months.
Furthermore, all the details and conditions, such as the rent and length of stay, are discussed and agreed upon beforehand, prohibiting any changes during the said period.
On the other hand, rental agreements are much shorter contracts and are renewed monthly. In this case, landlords may change the contract terms every month, including how much to pay for rent.
Lease to Own vs. Lease Option
Lease-to-own agreements are contracts wherein tenants are given the option to purchase a landlord’s property at any given time during their agreement. This can be before or after the lease agreement ends.
In addition, this type of agreement often includes stipulations wherein part of the tenant’s rent serves as a down payment on the property.
On the other hand, a lease option agreement allows tenants to purchase the given property eventually, but they may only do so once their lease agreement ends. Therefore, even if tenants can buy the property before the contract ends, they are obligated to wait.
Importance of a Rental Agreement
Rental agreements are critical when renting out any property as it ensures that both you and your tenant are protected if any issues arise during their stay.
In this case, rental agreements will highlight your responsibilities as the property’s landlord and the tenant’s responsibilities while they are occupying your property.
Having said that, even if verbal agreements can still be legally binding, they might not be enough if there are disputes or problems during your tenant’s stay. Moreover, it can be complicated to prove your case before a judge without a written agreement.
Lastly, drawing up a rental agreement will allow you to comply with your local laws and regulations regarding rental properties. This is especially true if the lease will last longer than 12 months.
Rental Agreement by Types
Following are a few types of rental agreements and templates:
Responsibilities as a Landlord
As mentioned, you will have specific responsibilities to uphold if you plan to rent out your property.
Some of your responsibilities as a landlord include the following:
- Provide the necessary documents regarding your arrangement, including a copy of the rental or lease agreement and rent payment receipts should the tenant request them
- Ensure a safe and functional home for the tenant, including keeping the property in top shape, maintaining all common areas, giving access to vital facilities like heat, water, and electricity
- Respect the tenant’s right to privacy and quiet life, avoiding any unnecessary disturbances like unannounced visits
- Give due notice to the tenant for any visits to the property, even for repairs and maintenance purposes.
- Handle task relating to the property security
- It is also the responsibility of the landlord to return the security deposit.
Please take note the responsibilities of the landlord law may vary depending on what state the property is under. Therefore, it is best to check the specifics of the landlord-tenant laws in your area that provide clear details regarding how landlords should handle property access, deposits, and evictions.
Landlord Laws by State
Landlord laws can vary depending on where the property is situated. Because of this, it is important to be fully aware of the specific laws that are applicable in your state.
State laws to access the property
To effectively carry out their responsibilities, landlords may sometimes need to access the property, even while the tenant is still there. These circumstances include carrying out routine inspections, ensuring a property’s overall maintenance, and conducting repairs.
However, tenants still reserve the right to have their privacy, which is why landlords are required to give tenants advance notice should they need to access the property.
In this case, landlords must meet the minimum advance notice requirement, typically at least one day in advance, but the exact duration varies from state to state.
Security deposit law
Landlords can require tenants to pay a security deposit, which is paid before moving in and returned after moving out.
This amount is often used for the following circumstances:
- Repairing significant property damages or lost items
- Serving as a backup in case of unpaid rent
- Cleaning and maintenance costs
- Other amounts stipulated under the lease
Security deposits are usually refunded to the tenant after their lease ends, as long as the property is left in reasonably good condition. The exact amount landlords can charge vary from state to state, with most requiring an amount equal to one month’s rent.
Should a landlord encounter any issues with the tenant, such as unpaid rents or causing disturbances, they can terminate the lease and evict them from the property.
However, landlords need to follow the proper procedures for eviction, such as giving a written eviction notice to the tenant and allowing them enough time to comply with the requirements.
There are typically three eviction notices: comply or quit, pay or quit, and unconditional quit. The first two allow the tenant to correct mistakes and comply within a given period, while the latter offers no second chances.
The grace period given to tenants varies from state to state, with some allowing only three days for both types of evictions.
Late rent violation
In most cases, tenants must pay rent on the exact due date or pay the necessary fees for late rent. In some states, tenants have a certain “grace period,” which prevents them from being evicted or charged fees if they can’t pay the rent on time.
However, while landlords can charge late fees, some states limit just how much they can charge in late fees. Still, since not all states have definite laws regarding this, landlords can have more flexibility on how much they can charge.
Aside from this, landlords can also send a “Pay or Quit” notice to the tenant, indicating that they can terminate the lease should they fail to pay the overdue rent on a particular date.
Should the tenant violate other terms of the agreement aside from the overdue rent, landlords can also send a comply or quit eviction notice. In this case, tenants can remain on the property as long as they correct the violation within the specified period.
Typical violations include significant property damage, violation of a no-pets rule, public disturbances, and accommodating too many guests beyond the landlord’s allowed or any illegal activity.
Before renting out a property, landlords must comply with local, state, and federal laws regarding disclosures about the property they’re renting out. This information can be stated in the rental agreement or another form of writing.
According to federal law, landlords must inform all tenants about any potential lead paint-based hazards if the property was built before 1978. However, when it comes to state and local laws, the information needed will vary, with some having as many as ten types of disclosures before a tenant can sign a lease.
In addition, under 42 US Code 4852d federal law, residences built prior to 1978 are required to attach signed leases by tenants. The landlord must also provide a copy to protect your family from lead in your home.
If a tenant pays a security deposit, some states require landlords to complete a move-in checklist form before the tenant moves in. Some of the information is included in any existing damages on the property to avoid false damage claims later on.
What Do Rental Agreement Templates Include?
Most rental agreement templates include the following information:
- Parties: This includes the names of all tenants, as well as the landlord’s name and mailing address. Aside from this, it should also include the date when both parties signed.
- Occupants: Rental agreement templates also need to indicate the name of everyone living on the property, even those not on the lease. These include other family members and any children.
- Governing law: This details whose jurisdictions (state-level) will apply in the contract. In most cases, it will be where the property is, not where the landlord or tenant is.
- Property description: This section includes the basic details of the property, such as what type of property it is, its mailing address, number of rooms, and bathrooms, among others.
- Monthly rent: This part details all the arrangements for rent payment, including the following information:
- Payment: The monthly payment should be indicated explicitly in verbal and numerical forms to avoid any misinterpretation.
- Due date: This specifies the deadline for payments.
- Payment location: These details the method a tenant will use to pay their rent.
- Term: This specifies the duration of the lease, describing how long its terms are legally binding. It falls under two categories: month-to-month and fixed term.
- Month-to-month: The lease will only apply for a month with this term, with the contract renewing after each month. This also details any canceling policies. The cancellation policies indicate that either party is allowed to cancel the lease, given that they provide 30 to 60 days’ notice. However, the appropriate notice period can depend on either the state’s minimum requirement or according to what is indicated in the agreement.
- Fixed-term: The terms of this agreement apply for a specific duration, typically covering one year or 12 months.
- Guests: This section of rental agreement template details how many guests a tenant can have over at the property. This allows landlords to avoid issues with public disturbances, such as loud parties or noisy neighbors.
- Maximum time period: Under this, landlords can specify just how long guests can stay over at the property. In most cases, guests can stay at the property from two weeks to six months before being considered another tenant.
- Subletting: This details whether a tenant can lease or “sublet” the property to another third party or not, as well as indicate if they require the landlord’s permission to do so.
- Notices: This specifies where both the landlord and tenant can be contacted if they violate the lease agreement.
- Parking: These details whether the tenant can use the property’s parking space or not.
- Parking fee: This details how much a tenant has to pay to use the parking space available.
- Late charges: This specifies how much a tenant has to pay in late fees for any overdue rent.
- Grace period: This indicates how long a tenant has to pay the overdue rent before being charged late fees or given an eviction notice.
- Maintenance: These details the landlord’s obligations regarding the property’s maintenance, such as in the case of a single-family home.
- Alterations: This section of rental agreement template details the conditions for any modifications a tenant does to the property, such as what happens if they make any.
- Furnishings: This lists down all the included furniture in the property before the tenant moved in.
- Utilities: These details the payment arrangements for the property’s utilities, such as electricity, water, heating, internet, cable, among others.
- House rules: This specifies the standard rules tenants must comply with, especially in roommate arrangements.
- Pets: This indicates whether pets are allowed or not on the property and what types of pets are allowed.
- Pet fee or deposit: This details the fee pet owners have to pay for their pets can cause to the property.
- Insurance (bond): This details what type of insurance the property has and how much coverage a tenant has if the property has insurance.
- Security deposit: This details how much a tenant has to pay as a security deposit upon the start of the lease and the other terms of the deposit.
- Receipt of agreement: This indicates that both parties have received a copy of the lease and acknowledge its existence.
- Termination: This details a landlord’s cancelation policy for the lease, such as what will happen if a tenant decides to terminate the agreement before its end.
Frequently Asked Questions
Suppose you are a property owner and you are planning on only renting out a room. In this case, you can use a room rental agreement. This agreement will indicate that the tenant is only renting out a room and not the entire property. It will also detail specifics about visiting hours, quiet hours, utility payments, etc.
However, suppose you are renting out a property and planning on subletting your spare bedroom. In that case, you first need a signed agreement with your landlord indicating that they allow subletting. Once that is accomplished, you must have a room rental agreement with the person renting the room. Finally, after both parties have signed the contract, the deposit must be made before the keys will be handed over.
This depends on whether the landlord allows it or not. In many cases, tenants will need to obtain written consent from their landlords to sublet a property legally.
This is considered a breach of contract, and landlords will have grounds to evict the tenant. In some cases, they can even pursue legal actions for breaking the contract.
A tenant will have to obtain written consent from the landlord, indicating that they’re allowing the lease’s premature termination.
Yes, they can, but this often entails additional fees.