Lease Agreement Basics Renters Should Know Before Signing 

If you dream of owning a home or upgrading your business space, you'll likely find yourself property hunting at some point. With any luck, you'll end up finding the perfect space to suit your needs, which means building a landlord-tenant relationship and creating a lease agreement with them.

A lease is a contract between the landowner and the tenant. Tenants possess, occupy, and use the property according to the terms and conditions in their agreement. The contract is an essential document, and usually, the landlord is responsible for creating it.

Essential Information to Create a Residential Lease Agreement 

  • Name and address of the landlord 
  • Name and address of the tenant 
  • Description of the property, including the complete address, square footage, and amenities 
  • Payment information, including the rent amount, security deposit, and due date 
  • The rights and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord 
  • Dispute resolution information, termination date, renewal options, and other specific clauses like pet policy and parking spots 

A Lease Is Legally-Enforceable 

If you fail to follow the terms mentioned in the document, you might be in a bind later on. Always take plenty of time to read and understand the entire document before signing. This is where you might need some guiding help. These are some finer details you should take note of before signing a lease agreement. 

1. Access to the Premises by the Landlord 

Your landlord can reserve the right to enter the leased premises at reasonable hours. The reason can be for inspection, checking for repairs, observing how well the area has been taken care of, or mortgage purposes. They can also exhibit the area to prospective tenants if you didn't renew the contract. 

However, your landlord cannot randomly invade your privacy. It's necessary to clarify that the landlord can only enter the property when you are present at the premises and they must give prior notice of their visit at least 24-48 hours in advance. 

2. Equipment and Appliances 

The property you choose can be furnished, semi-furnished, or unfurnished. If you are lucky, you might find your landlord generous enough to equip you with not only a furnished house but also other amenities such as: 

  • Refrigerator, stove/oven, dishwasher, and other kitchen appliances 
  • Washer and dryer (in-unit or in a common area) 
  • Water heater and air conditioning 
  • Window shades, gym, pool, or other amenities

It's essential to ensure you have the items you need listed in the residential lease agreement. If you're not receiving any extra appliances, the contract must also specify that. This will help avoid future issues like the landlord complaining about missing appliances or damages to the equipment. 

To be on the safe side, take pictures of equipment and file them with your agreement. Send a copy of these to your landlord to ensure there is no confusion later on.

3. Release of a Security Deposit 

A security deposit is an agreed-upon sum of money given to the landlord as security for the leased property. It acts as proof of intent by the tenant to move in and take possession of the property. The landlord usually holds this deposit for the duration of the tenancy. They keep this amount to pay the cost of replacing or repairing property damaged by the tenant.

A standard lease typically requires the landlord to release this deposit within 60 days after the tenant vacates the property. You can claim your deposit from the landlord if they don't return it to you within this period. 

4. Tenants' Insurance and Liability 

A tenant must purchase rental insurance and share a copy of their policy with the landlord before possessing the property. Many might think it's a waste of money as you are already liable to the landlord for the property you use. However, in a mishap such as a fire, theft, or vandalism, the liability falls on the tenant. This insurance helps you cover legal liability and saves you from unnecessary expenses. 

5. Termination Date

When the tenant signs the lease agreement, it will include the lease termination date and the terms for renewal. Tenants have to pay rent for the length of this lease period within the specified due date. Exceptions to this case occur when the landlord violates the lease. These violations include: 

  • Increasing the rent without consulting the tenant or before the contract termination date
  • Selling the property before the contract period is over
  • Demanding the tenant vacate the property immediately, thereby not acknowledging the mutually agreed upon contract period

The landlord can increase rent or stop leasing the property once the lease period is over. As the termination date nears, you should discuss your plan for renewal with the landlord. It helps avoid unnecessary conflicts dealing with differing views about the renewal. 

Help With Your Lease Agreement Needs 

It's critical to read your lease agreement and understand what you are getting into. Once you and your landlord have signed the contract, both must abide by the rules and regulations mentioned in it. You should seek help before signing the contract if you can't follow the legal language. Always keep a copy of the lease agreement. 

360 Legal Forms offers you free access to our form builder for a seven-day trial period, allowing you to create legal forms and contracts instantly. You can use us to create a fully customized residential lease agreement valid in your state. All it takes to get your contract is to fill out a simple questionnaire and download it as a PDF or Word document.

As a lease doesn't have to be notarized, our online signing option further simplifies the validation process. Ensure your property rights and create a lease today!

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