As a landlord you have rights with respect to the use of your property
as described in your lease agreement with the tenant. You also have
responsibilities to maintain the property in good condition. Laws
and responsibilities of the landlord differ from state to state. You
may visit the property laws page of our website to review laws and property codes of your state.
What is a rental or lease agreement?
A rental agreement is a contract, usually written, between the owner
of a property and a renter who desires to have temporary possession
of the property. As a minimum, the agreement identifies the parties,
the property, the term of the rental, and the amount of rent for the
term. The owner of the property may be referred to as the lessor and
the renter as the lessee.
A rental agreement is often called a lease, especially when real
estate is rented. In addition to the basics of a rental (who, what,
when, how much), a real estate rental may go into much more detail
on these and other issues. The real estate may be rented for housing,
parking a vehicle(s), storage, business, agricultural, institutional,
or government use, or other reasons.
The parties involved in the contract, the lessor (sometimes called
the owner or landlord) and the lessee (sometimes called the renter
or tenant) are identified in the contract. A housing lease may specify
whether the renter is living alone, with family, children, room-mate,
visitors. A rental may delineate the rights and obligations of each
of these. For example, a "sub-let" to a stranger might not
be permitted without permission of the landlord. This also applies
to whether or not pets may be kept by the renter. On the other hand,
the renter may also have specific rights against intrusions by the
landlord (or other tenants), except under emergency circumstances.
A renter is in possession of the property, and a landlord would be
trespassing upon the renter's rights if entry is made without proper
notice and authority (e.g., 24 hours' notice, daytime, knock first,
except for emergency repairs, in case of fire, flood, etc).
Rented real estate may include all or part of almost any real property,
such as an apartment, house, building, business office(s) or suite,
land, farm, or merely an inside or outside space to park a vehicle,
or store things. The premises rented may include not only specific
rooms, but also access to other common areas such as off-street parking,
basement or attic storage, laundry facility, pool, roof deck, balconies,
etc. The agreement may specify how and when these places may be used,
and by whom. There may be detailed description of the current condition
of the premises, for comparison with the condition at the time the
premises are surrendered.
The term of the rental may be for a night (e.g., a hotel room), weeks,
months, or years. There may be statutory provisions requiring registration
of any rental that could extend for more than a specified number of
years (e.g., seven) in order to be enforceable against a new landlord.
A typical rental is either annual or month-to-month, and the amount
of rent may be different for long-term renters (because of lower turnover
costs). Leaving a long-term lease before its expiration could result
in penalties, or even the cost of the entire agreed period (if the
landlord is unable to find a suitable replacement tenant, after diligent
pursuit). If a tenant stays beyond the end of a lease for a term of
years (one or more), then the parties may agree that the lease will
be automatically renewed, or it may simply convert to a tenancy at
will (month-to-month) at the pro-rated monthly cost of the previous
annual lease. If a tenant at will is given notice to quit the premises,
and refuses to do so, the landlord then begins eviction proceedings.
In many places it is completely illegal to change locks on doors,
or remove personal belongings, let alone forcibly eject a person,
without a court order of eviction. There may be strict rules of procedure,
and stiff penalties (triple damages, plus attorneys' fees) for violations.
Rent may be payable monthly, annually, or in advance, or as otherwise
agreed. A typical arrangement for tenancy at will is "first and
last month's rent" plus a security deposit. The "last month's
rent" is rent that has yet to be earned by the landlord. The
security deposit is often handled as an escrow deposit, owned by the
tenant, but held by the landlord until the premises are surrendered
in good condition (ordinary wear and tear excepted). In some states,
the landlord must provide the tenant with the name and account number
of the bank where the security deposit is held, and pay annual interest
to the tenant. Other regulations may require the landlord to submit
a list of pre-existing damage to the property, or forfeit the security
deposit immediately (because there is no way to determine whether
a prior tenant was responsible).
In order to rent or lease in many apartment buildings, a renter
(also referred to as a “lessee") is often required to provide
proof of renters insurance before signing the rental agreement. There
is a special type of the homeowners insurance in the United States
specifically for renters — HO-4. This is commonly referred to as renter’s
insurance or renter's coverage. Similar to condominium coverage, referred
to as a HO-6 policy, a renter's insurance policy covers those aspects
of the apartment and its contents not specifically covered in the
blanket policy written for the complex. This policy can also cover
liabilities arising from accidents and intentional injuries for guests
as well as passers-by up to 150' of the domicile. Renter’s policies
provide "named peril" coverage, meaning the policy states
specifically what you are insured against. Common coverage areas are
fire or lightening, windstorm, smoke, vandalism and theft.
This web site is designed to give you general information. The information
on this web site is in no way intended to be legal advice. Legal advice
can only be obtained by a licensed attorney who has the appropriate
legal skills and knowledge related to your specific circumstances.
List Of Available Forms:
Landlords and tenants use a Lease Agreement to document their rights
and obligations relating to a residence. This legal contract addresses
all aspects of the landlord tenant relationship. For example, the
Lease Agreement provides how much rent the tenant will pay and how
long he or she is renting the property.
A Lease Amendment is an agreement made between a Tenant and Landlord
agreeing on the modification of certain terms of the original Lease.
This document can be used to transfer the original tenant's (the assignor's)
rights and responsibilities under a Lease to another party (the assignee).
Lease for Franchisor Owned Locations
This Sublease Agreement allows a Franchise Owner to sublet leased
property for use by a Franchisee to operate a franchise in accordance
with the Franchise Agreement entered into by between the Franchisor
This Lease Renewal Agreement sets the terms between a Lessor (Landlord)
and a Lessee (Tenant) for the renewal of a Lease of a property.
This document is a contract between a Tenant, a Landlord and a Landlord's
Lender, wherein the Tenant's interest in the property is clarified
as subordinate to the Lenders. In addition, Lender promises to honor
the lease, in the event of the Landlord's fails to make mortgage payments,
and not disturb Tenant so long as the Tenant is current on rental
This letter is used by a landlord or manager to remind tenants that
a rent payment is past due.
The Late Rent Payment Agreement is an agreement between a Landlord
and Tenant that provides a Tenant a set amount of time to pay all
past due rent in order to avoid eviction.
Rental Application Form
As a landlord, you want to rent your property to qualified tenants
who will take good care of the property and pay rent on time. A Rental
Application, coupled with a Residential Lease, is critical for effective
property management. The Rental Application allows a landlord to assess
and choose applicants for a rental property. The information provided
by a Rental Application is used to perform background and credit checks
on applicants in order to make sure they are properly qualified to
rent the property.
This worksheet provides a detailed checklist that may be used by either
a landlord or a tenant to document the condition of rental property
both before and after the tenant's occupancy of the property.
As a landlord, you may be required or asked to provide a Rent Receipt
to your tenants. Providing a Rent Receipt will protect each party's
interest in the rental property. For tenants, a Rent Receipt will
serve as evidence that a rental payment has been made. For landlords,
a Rent Receipt is used for record keeping purposes as well as notifying
tenants of late or partial payment.
Notice to Enter
This letter is used to notify tenants of a landlord or manager's intent
to enter the premises for the limited purposes specified in the letter.
An Eviction Notice is a notice used by a landlord to notify a tenant
that he or she intends to terminate the tenancy and remove the tenant
from the property. A landlord is required to give a tenant proper
notice before the eviction process can begin. Serving an Eviction
Notice is a required first step in order to evict a tenant from the
property. Landlord Forms Center now has Eviction Notices for all fifty (50)
states. For your state-specific Eviction Notice, click HERE.
This worksheet is used by a landlord or manager to collect and organize
the information that is needed to initiate eviction proceedings against
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