In order to sign a rental lease with your tenants, you will need to have – of course – a rental lease. You can get a state-specific lease agreement from a number of sources, such as EZLandlordForms.com, USLegalForms.com, a local paper supply company like Staples or Office Depot, or your attorney. You can also download a free lease online in many places, including shs411.com, but be sure to run the lease past your attorney for review. Each state has different rules and laws that govern the landlord-tenant policies in that state, so chances are a lease found for free online may not be legally binding for you. Don’t skimp on the quality of a lease.
“Having a strong, loophole-free lease agreement is probably the most important aspect of maintaining good, long-term tenants who treat your property the way it deserves to the be treated (or pay the price if they don’t).” – J Scott
Before purchasing your lease agreement, however, you need to decide on whether you want a month-to-month rental agreement, a one-year lease, or something in between. Most landlords choose a one year lease in an effort keep their tenants in the home as long as possible and minimize turnover. Others choose to offer only month-to-month leases, to hold on to the ability to quickly and easily remove a tenant if things don’t work out right. Still others choose a six or nine month lease, which is often helpful for ensuring a lease doesn’t end during the holiday months of November through January, when vacancies are the most difficult to fill. This comes down to a personal choice that you can make, but with whatever lease term you chose, be sure to buy the correct lease agreement form.
While lease agreements generally vary in length and content, most lease agreements contain the following information:
- Names of tenants
- Address of the rental property
- Lease term Length
- Rent amount
- Security deposit amount
- Late fee description
- The move-in condition report
- Provisions for or against pets, utilities, smoking, and more
You may also need to provide certain State and Federal documents with your lease, depending on when your home was built and your State laws. The United States EPA requires that you give your tenant a pamphlet called “Protecting Your Family from Lead in the Home” if your home was built prior to 1978. Check with your local attorney for state specific forms you may be required to provide.