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Lease Agreement: What is it?

A lease agreement is a legally binding document that is most commonly used when someone who owns residential property wants to allow someone else to live in it for a certain amount of time. The most common length of time for a lease agreement is 12 months. However, many lease agreements are for six months. Lease agreements can also be month-to-month.

Lease agreements are legally binding documents that explain the duties of both the landlord or property management company and the person or persons entering into the agreement. If the lease agreement is violated, both parties have the option of seeking legal relief from housing court or small claims court.

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Contents of A Lease Agreement

Each state has laws that govern landlord-tenant relationships, including lease agreements. As such, any lease agreement should abide by those laws. There are some common provisions that are found in most written lease agreements. Those provisions include:

  • Identification of the parties. This includes the name of the landlord or property management company and the name of the tenant or tenants. Identification of the parties will also include the names and ages of anyone who will live on the property (including minors), although this part of the identification process usually occurs later in the lease agreement.
  • Defines the term of the lease, whether it is renewable, monthly payment, when the payment is due, and accepted payment methods. When it comes to whether a lease is renewable, sometimes that will involve signing a new lease for a new lease period or the lease may state that it converts to a month-to-month for both parties.
  • Deposits. The lease agreement will include the amount of the deposit as well as the different types of deposits. Common deposits include a security deposit and a pet deposit. The lease should also explain the process for the tenant to get the deposit back at the end of the lease.
  • Pet policy. Whether pets are allowed or if there are any restrictions on pets should also be explained in this the lease agreement. Common restrictions include breed restriction, size restriction, and outside pets only. Some may specify that no fish tanks over a certain size are allowed on the premises.
  • Requesting repairs or maintenance. This is a provision that explains what the tenant should do if they need to request repairs or maintenance on the property. This section may also mention the amount of notice that a tenant should make, how the notice should be made, and if there are any specific items that the tenants are responsible to take care of.
  • Property inspection. Landlords or property management companies may have a specific timeframe that they like to follow in order to inspect property that they own. This provision will explain how often they plan to inspect the property for damage and how they will notify the tenant that it is time for the inspection.
  • Whether the tenant may sublet the property.
  • How long a guest may stay without being added to the lease.

The lease agreement should be signed and dated by both the landlord and the tenants. Both parties should have a copy of the lease agreement for their records.