Updated on August 23rd, 2023
A simple (1-page) lease agreement is a straightforward contract a landlord uses when renting residential property. It legally binds the tenant to the rental amount through the lease term.
This agreement is the bare minimum that must be entered to create a legally binding rental contract. It does not include any required State or Federal disclosures.
Simple vs. Standard
A simple lease offers basic terms covering a rental arrangement, while a standard lease outlines a comprehensive list of landlord and tenant responsibilities.
The following must be included (at a minimum) to have a binding lease:
- Parties’ names: Names of the landlord and tenant(s).
- Property Description: Street address and property details.
- Rent Amount ($): An amount of money a tenant pays for occupying the property.
- Term (timeframe): The start and end date.
- Signature area: All parties must sign for this form to be legally binding.
Importance of Screening the Tenant
Because this agreement is a bare-bones version of the standard residential lease, it doesn’t contain all of the clauses that would normally be included. These provisions can help structure the agreement, ensuring both parties understand their rights and what they can and cannot do. A potential consequence of having an agreement that is too broad and simple is that the tenant can “act out” and then claim they didn’t see their action as against the rules of the lease.
To help offset the risk of an unruly tenant, landlords can use rental applications, paid background checks, references, and so on. With a rental application, the landlord obtains an overview of how applicants behaved during previous renting experiences. If there are any warning signs, the landlord should make a decision as to whether the tenant should be permitted to rent or not.
How to Write
Step 1 – Parties
The first section is used for establishing who will be bound by the agreement. This includes the date of the agreement, the name and address of the landlord/property manager, and the name(s) of the tenant(s).
Step 2 – The Property Address & Type
Write the full address of the rental property. If there is a unit number (#), this should be included as well. Then, check the box corresponding to the type of property.
Step 3 – Term Length
The “term” is the length of the agreement. Residential leases can be made to have any term, although terms of one (1) year are the most common. To complete, enter both a beginning and end date.
Step 4 – Rent ($)
Enter the amount ($) of rent the tenant is required to pay on a monthly basis. Then, enter the day of the month that the tenant has to pay the rent by (typically the first of the month). The landlord should include a brief set of instructions on how the tenant should go about paying the rent. This can include requiring payment via check, online transfer, or an ACH deposit.
Step 5 – Security Deposit
A security deposit is a reimbursable deposit made by a tenant that is used to cover any damage caused to the rental during the lease term. Deductions cannot be made to the deposit for fixing normal wear and tear. If the landlord intends on charging a deposit, the first box should be checked. Then, the amount ($) of the deposit should be entered (typically equal to one (1) month of rent) and the landlord should enter the number of days they have to return the deposit to the tenant. If the landlord doesn’t require a deposit, the lower (second) box should be checked.
Step 6 – Signatures
To make the document officially binding, the parties will need to inscribe their signatures, print their names, and enter the signing date.