Rental Lease Guide Cover

The Complete Guide to Rental Leases

There are several things to do before you sign your lease. From researching state laws to including the right clauses, we'll help you every step of the way. We'll also go over what to do if your tenant breaks the lease and how to handle lease renewals. Our guide will walk you through the entire process.

Introduction

Signing a Rental Lease Agreement

As a landlord, you want tenants who pay rent on time, take care of the property, and stick around for the long-term. By now, you’ve followed our tips for finding tenants and read our guide to tenant screening. You’ve analyzed your tenants’ credit reports and background checks and accepted your tenants.

After agreeing to the important lease terms with your new tenants (dates of occupancy, rental amount, deposit or fee amounts), it’s time to make things official. You’re ready to create and sign a lease agreement.

A lease agreement is a contract that outlines the exchange that will happen between you and your tenants: you will allow your tenant to occupy your space, for a set period of time, in exchange for a certain economic benefit (likely a monthly rent check). Your tenant also agrees to abide by certain rules outlined in the lease agreement.

Like most contracts, leases are comprised of multiple sections, including definitions, the rights and obligations of each party, rules, attachments, disclosures, and signatures.

As a landlord, you have three ways to get a rental lease:

  1. You can write a lease from scratch
  2. Hire an attorney to draft a lease
  3. Find a lease template (through a landlord association, a friend, or online)

Writing a lease from scratch is time-consuming and requires additional research. Hiring a lawyer to draft a lease can be expensive. On the other hand, selecting and customizing a lease template allows you to save time and money because a lot of the work is already done for you.

This guide will walk you through how to select a lease template, how to customize it, review it, and sign it.

The leasing process can be intimidating, so we want to make it as easy as possible. We’ll cover every step of the leasing process from drafting to signing your lease. To get started, we’ll go over common lease questions.

What’s the Difference Between a Rental Lease and a Rental Agreement? 

Rental agreements are used for short-term tenancies that are automatically renewed each month until either party provides notice (usually 30 days). On the other hand, rental leases allow tenants to inhabit the space for a longer period of time, i.e. six months, one year, etc. When a tenant agrees to live in your rental property for a longer lease term, they are offering you more stability because you’ll be receiving rent payments for a longer lease term.

However, a shorter-term tenancy can be worthwhile in certain situations. For example, some tenants may only want to renew on a month-to-month basis, in which case, you might choose to enter a month-to-month agreement in order to keep good tenants.

Is an Oral Agreement Ever Sufficient?

It’s always better to have a written rental lease so you can substantiate the rights and obligations of each party in writing. An oral agreement is potentially less effective if you end up in court. It becomes one person’s word against another. To better protect yourself and your tenants, you should always have a written agreement that’s signed by both parties.

What Makes a Rental Lease Most Effective? 

The best rental leases are:

  • Mutually agreed upon
  • Transparent
  • Accessible 24/7
  • Signed by both parties

Our online rental leases are state-specific, customizable, and signed online. These are a few of the many benefits of online rental leases. Our leases are backed up in the cloud so you never lose valuable information. You can access your lease from any computer. All you have to do is log into your account. If you’re not set up yet, sign up now.

Rental leases are helpful to your tenants by telling them the rules and providing instructions, which in turn helps you by limiting the number of questions you are asked. For example, the lease can tell tenants which utilities to set up, how to pay rent, how to handle maintenance issues, what to do in the case of a lockout, etc.

What Are the Steps to Getting a Lease Signed?

Steps to Get a Rental Lease Signed

From beginning to end, here are the steps to getting your rental lease signed:

  1. Research state and local ordinances
  2. Select a lease template that complies with your state and local ordinances and can be customized
  3. Thoroughly review the template and make necessary revisions to the terms, rules, and clauses sections
  4. Read and re-read the lease
  5. Review the lease with your tenant
  6. Have your tenant(s) sign
  7. Sign it

How Long Does the Leasing Process Take? 

If you use an online rental lease, the process will move much faster. Our online rental lease is lawyer-reviewed and state-specific. That way, you don’t have to spend time and money reviewing your lease with a lawyer or spend excessive time researching state laws. We’ve got you covered.

Plus, with this guide, we’ll save you time by providing best practices for how to prepare a rental lease, the benefit of using an online lease, important clauses and addendums to include, how to handle breach of contract, and how to renew your lease with good tenants.

Why Your Rental Lease Matters 

The point of owning a rental property is to earn a profit. When it comes to maximizing your profits, having a solid written rental lease is an important step. Your lease will help you avoid expensive legal battles. Plus, it mandates that your tenants pay rent each month and rent is the main income you earn from your property.

Rental leases also help you avoid problems before they happen by setting mutually agreed expectations for each party. Worst case scenario, if you end up in a landlord-tenant dispute, you have your lease to back you up.

Moreover, it’s valuable to know and follow the rules in your lease so you are fair to your tenants.

Continue Reading Our Complete Guide to Rental Leases

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