A ‘Residential Lease Agreement’ is a type of agreement that is unique and exclusive to the residential properties alone. It basically spells out the terms and conditions of the occupancy of that building facility while at the same time incorporating the rights and the obligation of both the tenant and the landlord.
What is the Residential Lease Agreement?
This agreement is binding in that its provisions have to be adhered to by both parties. As per the agreement, the landlord leases out a portion of his property to a tenant for a pre-agreed amount of money. In many cases, it lasts for 12 months or longer, not shorter.
It is necessary to sign this agreement to stay on the safe side of the law. The agreement yet again comes in handy when handling any disputes from the stay on the premises. While entering the agreement, it is important that you do so in accordance with the state laws that govern the same.
The reason underlying this assertion is pretty simple. Any agreement that is entered into has to enjoy the full backing of the law. It is only in this way that any disputes that emerge from its implementation may be sorted out expeditiously.
When viewed on all sides, this agreement is beneficial to and indeed shields the landlord and the tenant alike. To further make it safer and more reliable, some security deposits have to be remitted. This amount is held in trust until such a time that the tenancy period comes to an end.
Common Names of Residential Lease Agreement
Other names of this lease agreement are:
- Residential rental agreement
- Rental agreement
- Lease agreement
- Commercial lease agreement (if the property is converted for commercial ends)
When to use a Residential Lease Agreement?
You should always sign a lease agreement when renting a complete house, apartment, a portion of your house or room. Each state has different laws regarding leasing the residual properties. You are advised to check with your local state laws before signing a lease agreement.
Benefits of signing a lease agreement
As a landlord, the agreement gives you some security in case your relations with the tenant gets strained. It forms the basis upon which any future disputes may be handled.
As a tenant, you want some surety that the number of rental payments you make will not just spike overnight. It is only by clearly stipulating these details on paper that you may be guaranteed that. Then, you also want some added peace of mind while dealing with your landlord. How else may you be sure of that save for having the terms governing your relationships anchored on paper?
What to include in your lease agreement?
Below are some of the contents which your lease agreement has to incorporate:
- The period of the lease, i.e., days, weeks, short-term leases, or even months
- Definition of the ‘early termination lease’ and when it may be invoked
- Rental amounts, when the same is due, and the mode of payment
- Late rental payments, the penalties that come along, and the mode of conflict resolution
- How the ‘Non-Sufficient Funds’ are handled and sorted out
- The ages of the occupants
- Security deposits, values thereof and the due dates
- Utilities, their place in the rental amounts, and what happens in the case of a default
- Who is responsible for yard maintenance and cleanliness?
- Subletting – Is it allowed? If it is, what circumstances govern the sub-letting of spaces?
- General repairs/maintenance practices, who pays for them, and how are they implemented?
- Pets, their handling, size, and other circumstances of utilization
- Smoking and Insurance policies which the building subscribes to
How to write a Residential lease agreement?
As you have already noted, this agreement is very complicated, indeed. You cannot draft this letter single-handedly without any assistance from external sources. That is why we now ask that you pick and make do with a ‘residential lease agreement maker.’
This is basically a template that takes you through the step-by-step processes of drafting the agreement from scratch. It does so primarily by asking you some leading questions from one step to another. That way, you get to digest any ambiguities which might ordinarily arise in the course of drafting the agreement.
Lease agreement templates (by state)
Standard Residential Lease Agreement Template
How to terminate this lease?
Either party may initiate the termination of the lease. The following is a breakdown of how the lease may be terminated:
- Violation of the Terms of the Lease – Many states enshrined in their laws the clause that allows the landlord to terminate the lease if the tenant violates the terms of the lease. In this case, the landlord has to serve the warning notice (notice to comply or quit) with a specified time to correct the violation. Otherwise, the agreement considered terminated.
- Dangle a Payout – Try and entice the tenant to accept a payout that will see them vacate your premises earlier or prematurely. You may, for instance, refund the security deposit or offer to cover their moving out costs.
- Provide Free Rent – As a landlord, you may offer to have the tenant stay in your premises free of charge until the date you want him or her to vacate your property.
The rules that govern the termination of this lease varies from state to state. Generally speaking, a tenant has to remain in the facility until the expiration of the lease agreement. Some exceptions to this requirement exist, though. They are explained hereunder:
- Military – If a tenant enlists in active military service, he is generally allowed under federal law, to terminate the lease earlier. This is to enable the said tenant to attend to his duties often in a remote location, typically overseas.
- Change of Job Location – The same federal law yet again, empowers the tenants to vacate the premises prematurely if their employer happens to relocate their state to that of another.
- Violation of the Terms of the Lease – Many states enshrined in their laws the clause that allows the tenants to terminate the lease if the landlord violates the terms of the lease. These violations generally pertain to the deterioration of the safety and habitability of the homes they lease out.
- Significant Damages to the Rental Units – In the event of significant damages to the rental units, the tenant is yet again granted the leeway to move out before the expiration of the lease. These damages may arise from natural disasters, wear and tear, and fire outbreaks.
- Anything Goes – Lastly, some states give the landlord and the tenant the freedom to initiate the termination without any valid reason. This has to happen within 30 days or 60 days advance. It is definitely in your best interest to ascertain whether yours indeed is eligible for such a privilege.
Below are the strategies the tenant has to follow to affect the termination after the issuance of the notice of the termination of the lease agreement:
- Surrender security deposit – You may, as a tenant, surrender a security deposit to your landlord as a gesture that you are intent on vacating his premise.
- Pay an extra month rent in advance – In case you did not pay the security deposit while entering the premise, you may opt to pay an extra month rent in advance.
- Invoke financial hardship – If your inability to pay the rent is occasioned by the loss of job or savings, you may think of invoking the financial hardships. This way, your landlord may opt to release you peacefully rather than opt for forceful evictions.
- Claim domestic violence – As a last measure, you may also claim domestic violence. Some states actually allow the tenants to breach the lease agreements without necessarily suffering any penalties. Do not hesitate to invoke the same when caught between a rock and a hard place.
Most states allow for the penalization of the tenant or landlord who violates the lease agreement before the same has expired. Mostly, the party in error is sued, and the corresponding damages are taken care of appropriately.