Updated: January 2023
A real estate lease agreement is an essential tool for tenants and landlords. It sets out the rights and responsibilities of both parties, as well as the rules that must be followed for the duration of the lease.
Clear and concise lease agreements help minimize friction between tenants and landlords, so ensure one is in place before signing on the dotted line.
We recommend hiring a lawyer or using a real estate broker with access to rental and legal state and federally-approved lease agreement forms.
While lease agreements vary from case to case, certain elements must be present in all, including the following:
THE NAMES AND PERSONAL INFORMATION
The lease agreement must specify the names of the parties entering into the contract. These include the Landlord, their representative, and all tenants 18 years and above. This makes every adult tenant legally accountable to the lease terms, including the payment, the duration, and the use of the property. If one of the tenants cannot pay or violates a condition on the lease, the others can be held liable for the infraction.
THE TERMS OF THE LEASE AGREEMENT
The contract must include the duration of the lease, stating the exact month, day, and year of the lease’s start and end. The lease length can vary from contract to contract, and some leases may last only months, while others, years. At the end of the lease term, the Tenant should vacate the property unless a lease renewal or a new agreement has been signed.
THE AMOUNT AND RENT DUE DATE INFORMATION
The Agreement must also specify how much Rent the Tenant should pay for the duration of the lease, broken down into monthly payments. The due date for each month must also be included, along with how the payment should be made and the acceptable payment methods. If there are penalties for late payments or bouncing checks, they must also be included in the Agreement.
Most leases include one or more security deposits that will be used to pay for possible repairs or non-payment of Rent at the end of the lease. Using security deposits and returning unused portions sometimes cause contention between tenants and landlords, so they must be spelled out in the Agreement. Strict state laws also cover security deposits, noting that non-refundable deposits are not allowed in California.
ACCESS TO THE PROPERTY
The Agreement must include a clause affirming the Tenant’s rights to possess the leased property. The Tenant can live as they please in the property without interference from the Landlord as long as they don’t violate any agreed-upon rule. The Tenant also has the right to privacy, meaning the Landlord cannot enter or access the property without permission. The Agreement must specify the legal grounds on which the Landlord can access the Tenant’s property and how much advance notice the Landlord should give before entering the property.
Besides, the Obvious items in the lease agreement, such as the amount of Rent, Utilities, and Security Deposit, are all essential. But other terms may not be so apparent to the new landlords, or the Tenant, for example,
BREACH OF CONTRACT; EARLY TERMINATION
In the event of Termination by Tenant before completion of the original term of the Agreement, Tenant shall also be responsible for lost Rent, rental commissions, advertising expenses, and painting costs necessary to ready Premises for re-rental. The Landlord may withhold any such amounts from Tenant’s security deposit.
Subject to local law, Tenant agrees, upon demand of Landlord, to temporarily vacate Premises for a reasonable period, to allow for fumigation (or other methods) to control wood destroying pests or organisms, or other repairs to Premises. Tenant agrees to comply with all instructions and requirements necessary to prepare Premises to accommodate pest control, fumigation, or other work, including bagging or storage of food and medicine and removal of perishables and valuables. Tenant shall only be entitled to a credit of Rent equal to the per diem Rent for the period Tenant is required to vacate Premises.
Tenant’s, guest’s, invitees, or licensee’s personal property and vehicles are not insured by the Landlord, manager, or, if applicable, HOA against loss or damage due to fire, theft, vandalism, rain, water, criminal or negligent acts of others, or any other cause. Tenant is advised to carry Tenant’s insurance (renter’s insurance) to protect Tenant from any such loss or damage.
The Landlord and Tenant agree to mediate any dispute or claim arising from this Agreement, or any resulting transaction, before resorting to court action. Mediation fees, if any, shall be divided equally among the parties involved.
Our lease agreement contains over 50 clauses and is updated regularly as new laws are formed to protect landlords and tenants and ensure that we comply with the latest state laws.
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