Basic Components of a Residential Lease Agreement

If you don’t know how to put together your residential lease agreement or what elements to include, this is a very basic guide to help you with that. This guide is also good for people that have never rented before, so they know what to expect.

Know that there are no hard and fast rules for how a residential lease agreement is supposed to be laid out – even though most residential lease agreements do resemble each other a majority of the time.

The first thing listed in a residential lease agreement that is listed is the landlord’s information. This will include their address and contact information.

The second thing listed is usually referred to as “Terms of Use”. These terms include: whether or not the landlord allows sub-letters, information about parking and whether it is permissible for the tenant to run a home based business out of the address.

The third thing listed is the tenant’s information. This will include their new address (the address of the rental) and any other relevant contact information. Sometimes, if a co-signer is needed to close the deal on the residential lease agreement, the information of the co-signers may also be included here.

The fourth thing is the term of the lease. Options for this include fixed terms: such as one year or two years or stating if this residential lease agreement is on a month to month basis. Things like whether or not the lease will terminate at the end of the fixed term or automatically renew will also be included in this section of the residential lease agreement/

The fifth thing listed is the amount of rent, when it is due and where to send the rent payment. Other information here may include information about your security deposit (amount, whether it is refundable or not and how long the landlord has to return it upon move-out). This is usually where information about pets and whether or not a pet deposit is required.

The sixth thing is a list of applicable fees: late fees, returned payment fees (i.e. bounced checks).

The seventh thing is an explanation of the maintenance and repair, namely who will take care of what. If a residential lease agreement is modern and not a form template found at an office store, you will also find a list of appliances that are offered with the apartment as well as who to contact in case any of them malfunction.

The eighth thing is all the pertinent information regarding the unit’s utilities and who is to pay what.

The next thing in any good residential lease agreement contains addendums, disclosures and any other information a landlord feels is important enough to give out. Some examples of addendums are: pet agreement, military clauses about early termination of the lease and HUD arrangements. Some examples of disclosures: lead-based paint, mold and asbestos. Information documents include: what to do in case of an emergency, a welcome letter and neighborhood maps.

Lastly, if you are using a state specific and legal residential lease agreement, there will be several other areas that should be included. These areas include: right of entry (giving the landlord certain rights to enter your apartment in emergency situations or with proper notice.), whether or not renter’s insurance is needed to rent the apartment, as well as landlord remedies in case there is a breach of any terms of the lease by the tenant.

You want to make sure you are using a legal residential lease agreement. There are many forms you can find online that are not specific to your state and are not legal. As a landlord, it is important that you include the legal terms and conditions for the state or principality that your property is located in.

Stirling Gardner (The Hollywood Landlord) is a writer and property management expert.