A standard residential lease agreement is a binding contract formed between a landlord and a tenant in regard to a property rental with (typically) a one (1) year lease. The agreement establishes a list of requirements that both parties agree to follow for the full length of the lease, covering topics such as rent payments, utilities, security deposits, guests, pets, and moving out.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Apartment Lease Agreement – For renting out a duplex, triplex, studio, loft, and other apartment types.
Condominium Lease Agreement – Allows condo owners a means of easily leasing their unit(s) when they are not in use.
Home Lease Agreement – For leasing out an entire home to one (1) or more tenants.
Realtor Lease Agreement – The official versions used by Realtors; specific to each state.
A residential lease is a contract used to provide legal protection for a landlord (lessor) and tenants (lessees). Landlords require tenants to sign a lease to have physical proof that the tenant agreed to pay rent to the landlord throughout the term of the rental arrangement. Without a lease agreement, it would be difficult for a landlord to hold the tenant liable for rent payments, damages, and other obligations.
On the other hand, the agreement protects tenants from being taken advantage of by landlords. Because a lease is a legal contract, it ensures the tenant has access to a safe and habitable rental, neighbors (and even the landlord) won’t disturb them, and they have the right to live on the property for the length of the lease term. Each state has their own landlord-tenant laws, but all of these laws protect the tenant’s right to a peaceful living situation.
Anyone that allows another person or entity to live in a space they own in exchange for monetary payment should use a lease agreement. This applies regardless of whether or not the owner knows the tenant personally. A lease should be used by:
- Landlords and property management companies.
- Homeowners looking to lease their property for part of the year.
- Those looking to rent to friends and family.
RESIDENTIAL LEASE AGREEMENT
1. THE PARTIES. This Residential Lease Agreement (the “Agreement”) made on [MM/DD/YYYY] is between:
Landlord Name: [LANDLORD NAME] (the “Landlord”)
Landlord Address: [LANDLORD ADDRESS], AND
Tenant Name(s): [TENANT NAME(S)] (the “Tenant”)
The Landlord and Tenant are collectively referred to in this Agreement as the “Parties”.
HEREINAFTER, the Tenant agrees to lease the Premises from the Landlord under the following terms and conditions:
2. PROPERTY. The Landlord hereby leases the property located at: [PROPERTY ADDRESS] to the Tenant (the “Premises”).
3. LEASE TERM. This lease shall be considered a fixed lease. The Tenant shall be allowed to occupy the Premises starting on [MM/DD/YYYY] and ending on [MM/DD/YYYY] (the “Lease Term”).
4. RENT. The rent to be paid by the Tenant to the Landlord throughout the Lease Term is to be made in monthly installments of $[AMOUNT] (the “Rent”). The Rent shall be due on the [#] day of each month (the “Due Date”). The Rent shall be paid via the following instructions: [RENT PAYMENT INSTRUCTIONS].
5. LATE FEE. If Rent is not paid by the Due Date: (check one)
☐ – The Tenant will be charged a fee of $[AMOUNT]. Rent is considered late if it has not been paid within [#] day(s) after the Due Date.
☐ – There shall be NO Late Fee if the Rent is late.
6. SECURITY DEPOSIT. As part of this Agreement the Landlord requires a payment of $[AMOUNT] (the “Security Deposit”) for the faithful performance of the Tenant under the terms and conditions of this Agreement. The Security Deposit is required by the Tenant upon the execution of this Agreement. The Security Deposit shall be returned to the Tenant within [#] days after the end of the Lease Term, less any itemized deductions. This Security Deposit shall not be credited towards any Rent unless the Landlord gives their written consent.
7. OCCUPANTS. The Premises is to be occupied strictly as a residential dwelling with the following individual(s) in addition to the Tenant: (check one)
☐ – [OCCUPANT NAME(S)] (the “Occupant(s)”).
☐ – There are NO Occupant(s) in addition to the Tenant.
8. MOVE-IN INSPECTION. Before, at the time of, or shortly after move-in, the Landlord and Tenant agree to inspect the Premises and write any present damages or needed repairs on a move-in checklist.
9. FURNISHINGS. The Premises is: (check one)
☐ – Furnished (or will be furnished) with the following items: [IF FURNISHED, LIST ALL ITEM(S) HERE].
☐ – NOT furnished.
10. UTILITIES. The Landlord shall pay for the following utilities and services to the Tenant, with any absent being the responsibility of the Tenant: [LIST ALL LANDLORD-PAID UTILITIES].
11. PARKING. The Tenant is allotted [#] parking space(s).
12. PETS. The Tenant is: (check one)
☐ – Permitted to have [#] pet(s) on the Premises, ONLY consisting of (list pet types): [LIST ALL PERMITTED PET TYPE(S)].
☐ – NOT permitted to have pets of any nature on the Premises.
13. SMOKING POLICY. Smoking on the Premises is: (check one)
☐ – Permitted ONLY in the following area(s): [PERMITTED AREA(S)].
☐ – Prohibited on the Premises and all Common Areas.
14. SALE OF PROPERTY. If the Premises is sold during the Lease Term, the Tenant is to be notified of the new Owner’s contact details, and if there is a new Manager, their contact details for repairs and maintenance shall be forwarded. If the Premises is conveyed to another party, the new owner: (check one)
☐ – Has the right to terminate this Agreement by providing [#] days’ notice to the Tenant.
☐ – Does NOT have the right to terminate this Agreement.
15. NOTICES. Any notice sent by the Landlord or the Tenant to each other shall use the addresses entered in Sections 1 and 2, respectively.
16. ACCESS. Upon the beginning of the proration period or the start of the Lease Term, whichever is earlier, the Landlord agrees to give the Tenant access in the form of keys, fobs, cards, or any type of keyless security entry as needed to enter the common areas and the Premises. Duplicate copies of the access provided may only be authorized under the consent of the Landlord, and if any replacements are needed, the Landlord may provide them for a fee. At the end of this Agreement, all access provided to the Tenant shall be returned to the Landlord, a fee will be charged to the Tenant, or the fee will be subtracted from the Security Deposit.
17. RIGHT OF ENTRY. The Landlord shall have the right to enter the Premises during normal working hours by providing at least twenty-four (24) hours’ notice to inspect and make necessary repairs/alterations/improvements for any reasonable purpose. The Landlord may exhibit the Premises to prospective purchasers, mortgagees, or lessees upon reasonable notice.
18. NOISE. The Tenant agrees not to cause or allow any noise or activity on the Premises which might disturb the peace and quiet of another Tenant and/or neighbor. Said noise and/or activity shall be a breach of this Agreement.
19. GUESTS. There shall be no other persons living on the Premises other than the Tenant and any Occupant(s). Guests of the Tenant can stay on the Premises for periods not lasting more than forty-eight (48) hours unless otherwise approved by the Landlord in writing.
20. MAINTENANCE. At the Tenant’s sole expense, the Tenant will keep and maintain the Premises in a good, clean, and sanitary condition during the Lease Term and any renewal thereof.
21. GOVERNING LAW. This Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the state of [STATE NAME].
22. LEAD-BASED PAINT. The Premises (check one):
☐ – Was built before 1978. An attachment titled “Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards” has been affixed to the Agreement and must be initialed and signed by the Parties.
☐ – Was NOT built before 1978.
23. ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS.
[ADD ANY ADDITIONAL TERMS AND CONDITIONS HERE (OPTIONAL)].
24. ENTIRE AGREEMENT. This Agreement contains all the terms agreed to by the Parties and may be modified or amended only by written agreement signed by the Landlord and Tenant. This Agreement replaces all previous discussions, understandings, and oral agreements. The Parties agree to the terms and conditions and shall be bound until the end of the Lease Term.
IN WITNESS THEREOF, the Parties have caused this Agreement to be executed on the day and year first above written.
Landlord’s Signature: _________________________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Printed Name: [LANDLORD PRINTED NAME]
Tenant’s Signature: _________________________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Printed Name: [TENANT PRINTED NAME]
Tenant’s Signature: _________________________ Date: [MM/DD/YYYY]
Printed Name: [TENANT PRINTED NAME]
- Abandonment Clause
- Arbitration Clause
- Automatic Renewal Clause
- Breaking the Lease (“Early Termination”)
- Guarantor Clause
- Escalation Clause
- Military Clause
- No Smoking Clause
- Pet Clause
- Sale of Property Clause
- Security Deposit Clause
- Sublease Clause
- Waterbed Clause
An abandonment clause allows landlords to remove a tenant’s possessions in the event the tenant has “disappeared” from the premises without providing notice to the landlord. It’s important that the state laws are consulted to ensure an abandonment clause is enforceable before using it.
Arbitration is a process of dispute resolution in which the parties to the lease have a third (3rd) party make a binding decision regarding a dispute they have with one another. By using arbitration, the parties avoid going to court, which is often a costlier, more time-consuming process. The process shouldn’t be confused with mediation which is the act of having a third (3rd) party facilitate conversation between the parties, the major difference being that the mediator cannot make a binding decision (where an arbitrator can).
An automatic renewal clause (also known as an “Evergreen clause”) causes the lease agreement to renew for a certain length of time (typically the same term as the original lease) once the lease expires. If the landlord or tenant does not provide the other party adequate notice of their intent to terminate the lease, they will automatically be bound to a new lease agreement. This clause does not just bind tenants – if the landlord forgets about the clause and expects the lease to terminate upon the date listed on the contract, they have no choice but to re-lease the rental to the tenant for another term (potentially locking in tenants to a below-the-market rate).
While a landlord hopes to never need this clause, it should be included to ensure the parties understand the steps they need to take if they want to “break” the lease legally. This provides the landlord with a means of collecting unpaid rent until a new suitable tenant is found.
The term “guarantor” is often used in conjunction with “cosigner,” although the two aren’t exactly the same. A guarantor is an individual that is responsible for making rent payments if the tenant is unable to, whereas a co-signer is typically a tenant on the lease that is responsible for making rent payments if the other tenant is unable to. While not necessary on every lease, it is recommended landlords use the clause for tenants they deem as a “financial risk” after conducting screening checks.
In addition to the clause below, the landlord should have the guarantor sign a separate guarantor agreement.
An escalation clause, more commonly known as a “rent escalation clause,” allows the landlord to adjust the rate of a tenant’s rent on a specific timeline. This ensures the landlord has a means of keeping the rental on pace with rental market rates. Increasing the rate on a percentage basis is recommended.
Tenants that are in the military have a right to break a lease in the event they are called up for active duty. However, landlords are allowed to include a clause that requires the tenant to provide a notice of at least thirty (30) days after the last rental payment. As an example, assuming the tenant received orders on the 12th of March requiring them to leave in a month and they gave their notice to the landlord that same day, they’d be obligated to pay rent through to the 30th of June.
A simple clause that either denies, approves of, or restricts a tenant’s right to smoke on the rental premises.
States whether or not the tenant is permitted to have pets on the Premises. If a landlord does permit a tenant to have a pet, they should require the tenant to pay an additional deposit for the pet due to the increased likelihood of pet-caused damage. This is often tacked on to the security deposit. Landlords should check their state’s landlord-tenant laws to ensure a pet deposit can be collected.
This clause comes into play in the event the rental property is sold while a tenant is currently leasing it. The clause is used to either allow the new owner permission to terminate the lease (as long as adequate notice is provided) or restrict their ability to terminate the lease. Tenants will obviously prefer having the security in knowing their lease will be unaffected if a sale were to occur.
One of the most commonly-used clauses in leases, a section covering security deposits should be used in every lease agreement. A security deposit is a amount of money paid at the beginning of the lease by the tenant. Typically equivalent to one (1) or two (2) months’ of rent, the deposit is refunded to the tenant at the expiration of the lease as long as the rental unit is left undamaged and the tenant did not miss any rent payments.
Landlords are highly advised to require their tenants to consult with them prior to subletting. This is because landlords make a significant effort in ensuring the tenants they lease to have been thoroughly vetted through the use of a rental application. If they allow their tenants to sublet freely, the landlord runs the risk of introducing a troublesome subtenant into their property.
Although waterbeds were mainly a fixture of the ’80s, where they made up between twelve and fifteen percent (12-15%) of the entire bedding market, they can still be found today (albeit very rarely). A waterbed clause is a rather simple statement either permitting or denying the tenant the use of a waterbed. Why would a landlord not want their tenants to have a waterbed? Because the bed is typically filled with hundreds of gallons of water and significant damage can occur to the rental (and the floors/units below) if it bursts.