The Residential Rental Agreement

Landlord: “Oh, I didn’t realize that I needed to update my rental agreement.” Or, “I didn’t know that I needed to be that specific.” Just because you may have successfully used the same rental agreement form for over a decade, you shouldn’t assume that it is sufficient in today’s ever-changing litigious world.

Most property managers use rental agreements that are wisely specific and legally accurate according to today’s laws - federal, state, and local.

Tenant: “Oh, I guess I should have read the rental agreement more carefully.”  Or, “Can my landlord really subtract all that from my security deposit?”

Before signing a rental agreement tenants should take whatever time is necessary to read through the entire document.

A residential lease is a legal agreement that, hopefully, carefully defines the rights and responsibilities of both the tenant and the landlord/property management company. Ideally, if the agreement is sufficiently specific and both parties responsibly live up to their contractual obligations, neither tenant nor landlord will need to waste money hiring an attorney to resolve disputes in court.

What is included in a typical Residential Rental/Lease Agreement?

1. The name and contact information for both the tenant and landlord 2. The term of the lease - the date/time it begins/ends 3. Rental Rate - the exact amount, when it is due, and how to pay it 4. Specifies the legal obligations/rights of the landlord/property manager 5. Specifies the responsibilities, restrictions, and liabilities of the tenant 6. States clearly the details regarding the security deposit and it’s return 7. Specifies whether or not the tenant may sublet and/or how to terminate the lease

Again, tenants, read the rental agreement very carefully before signing. Ask questions about anything that may be unclear or unfamiliar to you.

Landlords, be specific. Stay current with the laws. Use rental agreement forms specific to your state (easily found online). Know when it may be time to hire a property management company.