Commercial Lease Agreement: A commercial lease form is utilized when renting commercial property. As opposed to residential property, commercial property refers to buildings such as high-rise offices or local small business dwellings.
Month to Month Lease Agreement: A month to month lease form is used in situations where the landlord and tenant agree to provide each party with a more flexible contract situation than a usual 12-month lease. With a month to month lease form, tenants and landlords both have the option each month to renew or cancel the agreement, which is beneficial for tenants if you plan on moving within a short period. It is beneficial for landlords because they can adjust the rental price based on more up-to-date market conditions, regulations permitting.
Roommate Agreement: Most common during college years, a roommate agreement is a contract between roommates itemizing the particular accommodations of the roommate relationship. The agreement could include how much each party must pay for rent each month and common utilities.
Residential Lease Agreement: The opposite of a commercial lease, a residential lease form is for renting a piece of property where you intend to live. A residential lease agreement can be used for a house or apartment lease agreement.
Sublease Agreement: A sublet agreement, as it is commonly referred to, is when a renter rents out a portion, or all, of their residential or commercial property for a specific duration of time to another renter. You must check with your landlord and read the local laws to know if a sublease agreement is permissible for your dwelling.
Lease Cancellation Agreement: This document is used when you need to cancel your lease contract before the agreed-upon end date, with which you state your case as to why you should be allowed out of your contract without penalty. As always, local laws and your landlord's response will determine the result of a lease cancellation agreement.
Leasing a house, apartment, or condo involves entering into a legally binding relationship. Because the process may be legally binding, we’ve created the 7 steps of the leasing process to help guide you.
Before a lease agreement is created and signed, you, as the tenant, should visit the premises. This will help you decide whether the space is right for you.
Toward the end of your visit, you would decide whether to make an offer on the space. If the leasing agent or landlord is with you, you can make the offer verbally. If you’re viewing the space on your own, you can call the agent or landlord, email them, or send them a text. This helps confirm your interest in the other party.
As a potential tenant, you’ll likely be asked to complete a rental application. Most landlords also require an application fee. The money from the fee is often used to complete a background check. Read the application carefully and follow its instructions.
Most landlords run a background check on potential tenants. They do this because they want to ensure that they are renting to someone who can afford to pay the rent and utilities for the property. If you’re a landlord, you can use verticalrent.com to complete a limited background check on potential tenants for free.
Part of the rental application process is to get a list of references from the potential tenant. The landlord will call the references to learn a little bit more about the potential tenant. Acceptable references include past or current employers, previous landlords, or anyone that isn’t a relative.
If the landlord is pleased with the application, background check, and references, a lease agreement will be drafted. Both the tenant and the landlord or leasing agent should meet to make sure that everyone understands the terms of the lease.
At the very minimum, the lease should include fees related to pets, parking, trash, and late fee; the monthly rent amount; the date that the tenants will move into the property; the amount paid as a security deposit; the length of the lease; and the utilities that each party is responsible to pay.
The lease is not legally binding until it is signed and dated by both the landlord and the tenant(s). This is usually done on the day that the tenant pays the security deposit, prorated rent if they are moving in early, and the rent amount for the first month.
The landlord or leasing agent will provide the key to the premises. Both parties should maintain a copy of the signed lease agreement for their records.
When it is time to move into the premises, make sure that you walk through the property and note any existing damage. You can use a move-in checklist for this. Many states require the landlord to provide tenants with a checklist for this very reason. You can also create a list of repairs that need to be made.
The landlord should sign this document and copies for each party should be made. Performing this inspection is important because it helps protect the tenant from being held financially responsible for existing damage.
Property Details - This section denotes all major information about the property in question. This includes address, general description, as well as a legal description (sketch or survey)
Landlord Information - This includes contact information for the landlord or Lessor. Typically, this involves at least a full name, address, and phone number.
Tenant Information - This section provides the names of all tenants. On a standard lease agreement, a maximum of three tenants may be listed but may vary depending on the property.
Terms of Residential Lease - This component embodies all particulars of the rental contract itself. This means the amount of rent due each period, the beginning and ending dates of the lease, the date the lease is signed, and the address to which lease payments must be sent. It also covers policies such as late payment and returned check penalties, subletting rules, and security deposit information.
Rights Responsibilities & Liabilities of the Landlord - The details of this section vary from lease to lease, but typically cover issues such as tax, repairs/maintenance, utilities, insurance, liability, and provision of furnishings.
Rights, Responsibilities & Liabilities of the Tenant - This section covers rights such as pets, guests, and peace, as well as responsibilities such as repairs/maintenance and utilities.
Damages & Insurance - This component deals with damages to the property - who is liable for what.
Keys - This portion details the number of keys distributed and the consequences of a tenant being locked out or losing his or her key.
Termination of Lease - This covers all aspects of lease termination. These include when a Lessor can terminate a lease when a Lessee can terminate a lease, and how much notice must be given for both.
Lease Renewal - This section details when and how the lease may be renewed. It specifies whether or not the lease will be automatically renewed, and how long in advance the landlord must provide renewal documents.
Property Condition - This covers the results of the property inspection. These include general condition, wear and tear, and details that affect living conditions. These include: whether the property was built before 1978; whether any lead-based paint has been found on site; whether the property has flooded in the last three years.
Assignment of Lease – This document and process work to transfer or assign all rights and property that a tenant possesses to another individual. This document is often used when a tenant wants to get out of a lease that has not yet expired. Rather than abandoning the lease and paying costly fees, this document and process transfer their rights to another individual who would then take over the lease and resume rent payments.
Eviction Forms – Also known as a “Notice to Quit”, this is a notice given by a landlord to order a tenant to vacate the property by a certain date. Each state has a varying minimum notification period as to how much time must be given to the tenant before the eviction becomes effective. This minimum notice is generally 30 days but varies depending on the type of tenancy and state laws.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – A Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Form is a document required by federal law that must be issued to all tenants and potential buyers of residences built before 1978. Due to the hazard that lead-based paint possesses when it chips, the U.S Consumer Product and Safety Commission outlawed its use. Unfortunately, the paint may still be present in some residences built before 1978, and this disclosure notifies potential residences and tenants of its presence.
Move-in / Move-out Inspection Checklist – This checklist is a document given to a tenant by a landlord. Required by law in some states, this document helps the landlord keep track of the condition of his or her property by having both the tenant and landlord do a walk-through of the apartment or rental to ensure the good condition of the various components of the living space. This document is also used as a reference guide to spotting any damage to the unit once the tenant moves out.
Notice to Enter – Given to tenants usually 24 to 48 hours in advance, this document notifies tenants that the landlord or hired contractor must enter their apartment for a specific reason. These reasons range from inspections to maintenance and repairs.
Personal Guarantee (Guaranty) – This document is a personal guarantee or written promise that assures a business or lender that an individual will pay their obligations. These promises are unsecured and often attested by a co-signer.
Rent Receipt – A rent receipt is a document that records rent payments that a tenant pays to the landlord. This document generally records the amount of rent paid, the date, as well as pertinent information such as the tenant’s name, and unit number.
Rent Increase Letter – This document is a form used by landlords to notify tenants that their rent will increase and the new rate will become effective on a certain date. This notice must be given according to state laws but is generally given at least 30 days in advance.
Security Deposit Receipt – This document is a receipt that records the security deposit amount that the landlord collects at the beginning of a rental term. This record will keep track of the amount paid to the landlord, and how much the landlord will hold until the tenant moves out. Any deductions for damages or unpaid rent will be deducted from this deposit when the tenant moves out.
Security Deposit Return Letter – Once the lease term is over and the tenant moves out, the landlord will return whatever portion is left from the tenant’s security deposit. This letter documents the fact that the landlord is returning the deposit, in addition to itemizing whatever deductions have been taken from the deposit for damages or cleaning fees, or any interest that has been added to it. This letter and deposit must be returned within a certain period as required by state law.
Tenant Rejection Letter – This letter is a notice to a rental applicant that works to inform them that their tenancy application has been rejected. Oftentimes this rejection is because of a lack of creditworthiness, or insufficient income. It is important to note that according to Federal Fair Housing laws, a landlord may not reject a tenant based on discriminatory factors. These factors include age, sex, race, weight, color, creed, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, and more.
In this first section, enter the date that the lease is signed. Additionally, include the name of the landlord as well as the name of the tenant. If there will be a secondary tenant or a third tenant, input their names in the appropriate spaces.
Include the legal property description or sketch of the property. It is important to note that the legal description or sketch is different from the physical address.
Provide the specific day of each month that the rent is due. Additionally, provide the number of days after the rent is due that a late fee will be charged.
Provide the address to where the lease payments are to be sent each month. This should be the full address, including the city, state, and zip code. Additionally, include the fee amount.
Specify which type of insurance the tenant must carry to remain in good standing with the landlord. This section will explain to the renter that he or she must carry some form of insurance (as described below) and will detail which kind.
In this section, indicate whether or not the property was built before or after 1978. If the property was built before 1978, be sure that you include a disclosure that notifies them that the property may contain lead-based paint.
Indicate whether or not there is lead-based paint on the property based on inspection.
Also, include an asbestos disclosure.
Indicate whether or not pets are allowed on the property. If so, indicate the number of pets allowed, and which kind. State how much the deposit is to house pets in the apartment.
This section provides both the tenant and the lessee an official address of where notices are to be sent. First, input the name of the landlord, followed by his or her full address (including city, state, and zip code). Next, provide the official address where notices are to be sent/delivered.
For the lessee, input his or her name, followed by the name of any secondary or third tenant. Next, input his or her address that notices will be sent. This address is to include the city, state, and zip code.
For the required signatures, input the date that the landlord is signing the lease, followed by his or her name. Finally, the landlord must sign on the line.
The tenant will do the same thing. Underneath the landlord’s information, the tenant will write the date that the lease is being signed, followed by his or her name and signature.
*If the lease is being signed in the state of Washington, including the state property number.
Landlords have several options on what to do if they receive late payments from their tenants. One option is to impose a late fee for those who pay rent after the due date. Another option is sending the tenant an official Notice to Pay or Quit. This notice must conform and be sent according to state laws.
If state laws permit, the landlord may terminate the lease if the tenant does not pay rent within the window of time specified in the provided notice. Though this window varies from state to state, the fixed window of time can be anywhere between 3 and 30 days.
If a tenant has violated a term of his or her lease that is unrelated to rent payments, the landlord has the option to send an official Notice to Comply or Quit. This notice is intended to notify the tenant of their violation and correct the issue or face eviction.
If the offense reoccurs and the tenant must be sent a second notice within the same lease term (as defined by the state), the landlord is given the freedom to terminate the lease immediately. In states where the landlord has the freedom to do this, the landlord is advised to make it known to the tenant that a second offense would be grounds for eviction.
For tenants who commit illegal offenses on the property where the landlord or law enforcement witness such activity, the tenant may be subject to immediate lease termination.
It is usually the lessor who drafts the lease agreement template, though both the lessor and the lessee will be expected to sign it. From the perspectives of landlords and tenants alike, there are some legal factors to consider when signing this form. One major consideration is the type of rental agreement; it can be month-to-month, or it can be fixed-term.
With a month-to-month rental agreement, there is no specific time limit to the lease; theoretically, the lessor-lessee relationship could last indefinitely. In any case, the terms of the month-to-month agreement will be spelled out in the form and will usually stipulate that a certain number of days of written notice (for example, 20 days of written notice) be given before the announcement of the termination of the contract.
The other type of rental agreement is a fixed-term agreement. Rather than allowing either party to terminate the contract at any time, a fixed-term lease agreement legally binds both the landlord and the tenant to abide by the terms of the rental agreement for a specific length of time. A one-year contract is quite common, but multi-year contracts are also possible.
For landlords, a fixed-term contract means that he or she cannot raise the rent during the time of the lease; for tenants, it means that they cannot simply vacate the property and stop paying rent unless the lessee agrees to terminate the contract.
The remaining legal consideration is the security deposit. Most lease agreements will require a tenant to pay a sum of money upon signing the lease to cover the landlord’s expenses if the tenant breaks the terms of the lease or damages the property. This might be financially burdensome for the prospective tenant, but it is a necessary measure to prevent financial loss for the lessee.
Still, prospective lessees will want to examine a lease carefully to ensure that the security deposit is reasonable and that any fees stipulated in the rental agreement are clear and understandable.
In Alabama, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one month’s rent for a security deposit. Other rent-related issues, such as a rise in rent, must be delegated with at least a 30-day notice.
Alaska - Title 34, Chapter 3 (Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act)
In Alaska, a landlord may charge up to two month’s rent for a security deposit (unless rent exceeds $2,000). Once a tenant moves out, this security deposit must be returned either 14 or 30 days (depending on the circumstance) after the unit has been vacated.
Arizona’s Tenant/Landlord Law dictates that a landlord may not charge more than one and one-half month’s rent for the security deposit. Landlords may send a Notice to Quit that gives a tenant 10 days to vacate if the tenant has failed to report a criminal record.
California - Tenants’ and Landlords’ Rights and Responsibilities
California’s Tenant/Landlord laws direct that a landlord must disclose to the tenants whether or not the gas or electricity from their unit will also serve other areas. For example, exterior lighting or outdoor grills may draw gas or electricity from their unit. Landlords in California also may not charge more than two month’s rent for a security deposit.
Colorado - Title 38, Article 12
Colorado does not limit the amount that landlords may charge for security deposits but directs they must return such deposits no later than 60 days after the tenant moves out. The state also directs that any tenant who has repeatedly violated the terms of his or her lease may be sent an Unconditional Notice to Quit, forcing them to move out immediately.
In Connecticut, laws delegate that a landlord may charge up to two month’s rent for a security deposit. For tenants who have failed to pay rent, the landlord may present them with an Unconditional Notice to Quit, giving them 3 days to move from the premises.
Delaware - Title 25 (Landlord-Tenant Code)
On yearly lease agreements, landlords may require a security deposit equivalent to one month’s rent. For month to month lease agreements, there is no security deposit cap. When a tenant has repeatedly violated the terms of his or her lease agreement, the landlord may send him or her an Unconditional Notice to Quit that provides the tenant seven days to move out.
In Florida, tenants have three days to pay overdue rent before a landlord can file for eviction. If a tenant has caused intentional property damage or has repeatedly violated various terms of their lease within the same lease term, the landlord may send the tenant an Unconditional Notice to Quit, giving them seven days to vacate the premises.
Georgia - Title 44, Chapter 7 – Landlord and Tenant
In Georgia, a landlord must notify tenants of any individual authorized to act on his or her behalf such as a property manager or assistant manager. Tenants who have failed to pay rent more than once within 12 months may receive a notice to move out immediately from the landlord.
In Hawaii, a landlord may charge up to one month’s rent for a security deposit. If a landlord wishes to raise the rent, he or she must provide the tenants with a notice at least 45 days in advance.
Idaho - Landlord and Tenant Guidelines
Idaho law dictates that landlords may request any amount for a security deposit. Whatever amount he or she requests from a tenant, the security deposit must be returned within 21 days. Tenants who cause significant damage to a unit may be given an Unconditional Notice to Quit where the tenant is given three days to vacate the property.
Illinois - 765 ILCS 705/ – Landlord and Tenant Act
The state of Illinois does not limit how much a landlord may request as a security deposit, however, he or she must return the security deposit between 30 and 45 days (depending on whether or not there are deductions). Furthermore, if a tenant has failed to comply with the terms of the rental agreement, the landlord may serve him or her with an Unconventional Notice to Quit, providing 10 days to move out.
In Indiana, landlords must provide tenants with a 30-day notice before raising their rent. Furthermore, tenants have ten (10) days after the due date to pay their rent before landlords may file for eviction.
The state allows landlords to charge up to two month’s rent for a security deposit. The law also allows landlords to present tenants who present a clear and present danger to other tenants or the landlord a three-day notice to vacate the property.
In Kansas, landlords may charge the equivalent of up to one month’s rent for a security deposit. Landlords may give tenants three to five days (depending on which kind of lease agreement they have) to pay late rent before filing for eviction.
In Kentucky, landlords are not limited as to how much they may request from tenants for a security deposit. The state also delegates that landlords may evict any tenant who has committed two similar lease violations within six months by presenting them with an Unconditional Notice to Quit. This notice gives the tenant 14 days to vacate the property.
Louisiana sets no limit to the amount that landlords may request for a security deposit. Additionally, if a tenant fails to pay rent, Louisiana Tenant Law says that a landlord can present the tenants with a Notice to Quit that allows them 5 days to move out.
In Maine, a tenant who causes significant damage to the property may be given an Unconditional Notice to Quit that gives the tenant seven days to move out. Additionally, the state limits all security deposit requests to the equivalent of two month’s rent.
Maryland - Real Property
Maryland Tenant Law limits security deposit amounts to the equivalent of two month’s rent. If the tenant shows a clear danger to him or herself, or others on the property, the landlord may send him or her a notice that allows them 14 days to vacate the property.
Massachusetts - Chapter 186 (Estates for years and at will)
State law delegates that landlords may charge up to one month’s rent for a security deposit. For all rent-related notices, such as a rise in rent amount, the landlord must provide at least a 30-day notice.
Michigan - Chapter 554 (Real and Personal Property)
Michigan Law caps how much a landlord can request for a security deposit. The most he or she can hold is equivalent to one and one-half month’s rent. Landlords may terminate the lease of a tenant who has willfully neglected the terms and agreements of their lease by presenting them with a Notice to Quit, which gives the tenant seven days to vacate the property.
Minnesota - Chapter 504B (Landlord and Tenant)
Minnesota sets no limit on how much landlords can require a security deposit. If a tenant does not pay rent after 14 days, the law allows the landlord to file for eviction.
Mississippi - Title 89 > Chapter 7 – Landlord and Tenant
The state of Mississippi doesn’t limit the amount that a landlord may request from tenants as a security deposit. The state allows landlords to evict tenants who have committed the same or similar lease violations within six months by presenting them with an Unconditional Notice to Quit. This notice gives tenants 14 days to vacate the premises.
Missouri - Chapter 441 (Landlord and Tenant)
Missouri limits security deposit amounts to the equivalent of two month’s rent. If a tenant is found to be in gambling, prostitution, drug use, sales, or possession, the landlord may present him or her with an Unconditional Notice to Quit, providing them ten days to vacate the premises.
Montana has no state limit one what landlords may charge for security deposits. Also, if a landlord finds that a tenant is living with an unauthorized person or pet, the landlord may send a notice to vacate the premises in three days.
Nebraska - Article 14, Landlord and Tenant
The state of Nebraska limits the cap on security deposits to one month. Landlords may present a notice that gives a tenant 14 days to vacate the property if they have repeatedly violated the same or similar terms of their lease within six months.
Nevada - Chapter 118A: Landlord and Tenant
Nevada restricts the amount that landlords can charge for security deposits (three month’s rent). If landlords wish to raise the rent, he or she must present the tenant with at least a 45-day notice.
New Hampshire - Chapter 540 (Actions Against Tenants)
The state of New Hampshire delegates that the most that landlords may set security deposits are the equivalent of one month’s rent, or $100 (whichever amount is greater). Furthermore, rent-related issues, such as a rise in rent, must be sent with at least a 30-day notice.
New Jersey - Title 46 (2013 Revised Statutes “Property”)
New Jersey Law delegates that a landlord must return a tenant’s deposit (which is to be no more than one and a half month’s rent) no later than 30 days. This deposit is to be returned within five days if there is a fire, flood, evacuation, or condemnation.
New Mexico - Owner-Resident Relations
In New Mexico, a landlord may charge a tenant the equivalent of one month’s rent as a security deposit. If a tenant violates the same or similar terms of his or her lease within six months, the landlord may send the tenant an Unconditional Notice to Quit that allows seven days before they must vacate the premises.
New York - Article 7: Landlord and Tenant
In New York, there is no limit that landlords must adhere to when it comes to a security deposit amount for an apartment or rental. Furthermore, tenants have three days to pay late rent before a landlord may file for eviction.
North Carolina - Chapter 42 (Landlord and Tenant)
In North Carolina, tenants have ten days to pay overdue rent and late fees before a landlord may file for eviction. Furthermore, landlords who are holding the tenant’s security deposit (usually the equivalent of one and a half to two month’s rent) must provide the name and address of the banking institution where the deposit will be held.
North Dakota - Chapter 47-16 (Leasing of Property)
In North Dakota, landlords must supply the tenant with a move-in checklist that details the condition of the property. Also, the landlord may not request a security deposit of more than one month’s rent unless the tenant has a pet. If the tenant has a pet, the landlord may request up to two month’s rent, as long as the amount does not exceed $2,500.
The state of Ohio doesn’t limit the amount that landlords may request for security deposits. Besides, landlords who refuse or neglect to pay rent may be presented an Unconditional Notice to Quit which gives them three days to vacate the premises.
Oklahoma - Title 41 (Landlord and Tenant)
The state of Oklahoma does not limit the amount that landlords may charge for security deposits. Additionally, the state gives the landlord permission to serve a tenant an Unconditional Notice to Quit, forcing them to move out immediately if they are found to have been involved in criminal activity on the premises.
Oregon does not limit the amount that a landlord may request any amount for a security deposit. Tenants who have caused intentional destruction to the property can legally be sent a notice by the landlord that gives them 24 hours to move off the property.
Pennsylvania - Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 (Title 68)
Pennsylvania dictates that the most that a landlord may charge for a security deposit are the equivalent of two month’s rent for the first year and one month’s rent for any subsequent year. Rent related issues such as rent increase notices are to be served to the tenant no later than 10 days before the increase will be in effect.
Rhode Island - Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Chapter 34-18)
Rhode Island limits security deposit amounts to the equivalent of one month’s rent. Additionally, any rent-related issues, such as rent increases, must be sent to the tenant at least 30 days in advance.
South Carolina - Residential Landlord and Tenant Act (Title 27, Chapter 40)
South Carolina sets no limit as to what amount landlords may request for security deposits. Additionally, the state provides tenants with a five day grace period to pay late rent before the landlord may file for eviction.
South Dakota - Chapter 43-32 (Lease of Real Property)
Security deposits in South Dakota are capped at the equivalent of one month’s rent. Additionally, rent-related issues such as rent increases must be sent via written notice to the tenant at least one month before the notice is to take effect.
Tennessee allows tenants to withhold rent or “repair and deduct” if the landlord fails or neglects to repair broken items in the unit. The state also does not put a cap on the amount that landlords may request for security deposits.
Texas - Residential Title 8, Chapter 92
Texas does not limit security deposit amounts. Additionally, the state allows landlords to serve tenants who have failed to pay rent with eviction notices, giving them three days to move out.
Utah - Title 57 – Real Estate
The state of Utah has no limit that landlords may charge tenants for security deposits. Additionally, the state directs that tenants have three days to pay past-due rent before a landlord can file for eviction.
Vermont - Title 9, Chapter 137: Residential Rental Agreements
Vermont has no limit that landlords may request from tenants for a security deposit, however, the state does delegate that landlords return such deposit to the tenant no later than 14 days after they move out. Rent related issues, such as rent increases, must be sent with written notice at least 30 days in advance.
Virginia - Virginia Residential Landlord and Tenant Act
Virginia limits security deposits to the equivalent of two month’s rent. Furthermore, the law allows landlords to serve tenants who have repeatedly violated terms of their lease with an Unconditional Notice to Quit, giving them 30 days to vacate the premises.
Washington - State Laws (Title 59)
Washington sets no limit on the amount that landlords may charge tenants for a security deposit. Furthermore, rent-related issues, such as rent increases, must be sent to the tenant at least 30 days in advance.
West Virginia - State Codes Chapter 37 (Real Property)
West Virginia Law dictates that tenants must disclose specific facts to tenants, such as the purpose or cause of any specific non-refundable fees. Also, the state does not set a cap on the amount that landlords may request from tenants.
Wisconsin - Chapter 704 (Landlord & Tenant)
Wisconsin does not limit the amount that landlords may require as a security deposit. Also, the law allows landlords to send tenants who fail to pay rent on time, Unconditional Notices to Quit, demanding they vacate the property.
Wyoming - Article 12 (Residential Rental Property)
In Wyoming, landlords must disclose specific information to the tenants before they move in, such as which part (if any) of the security deposit is non-refundable and why. Also, the law allows landlords to evict tenants who are more than three days late paying rent.
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