Lesson preview: This lesson will introduce you to Residential Lease Agreements. You’ll learn general information about leases, what is contained in a standard rental lease agreement, what addendums are and what typical addendums cover, and the difference between a lease agreement and a rental agreement.
General Information about Leases
A residential lease is a legally binding contract made between a landlord and a tenant. In other words, when you sign a lease as the tenant, you become legally obligated to abide by what is stated there – paying the rent when it’s due, not allowing smoking anywhere but in outside designated areas, declaring a pet and paying the required pet deposit, etc. Therefore, it’s crucial that you read all the details in the lease and in the addendums, so you’ll know what you’re agreeing to before you sign.
If there is anything in the lease or addendums you’re not willing to agree to, bring them up with your landlord before you sign, as this is the time you can negotiate the details of the lease. Get your agreements in writing.
Additionally, keep in mind that the lease doesn’t just give your landlord rights; it also gives you, the tenant, certain rights and privileges. For instance, the lease gives you the right to exclusive use and enjoyment of the residential property in exchange for the rent you pay. The lease or rental agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of both you as the tenant and of your landlord, during the time period stipulated in the lease.
When you rent a property, the rental agreement you’re entering into is often contained in 2 sets of written documents: the standard lease agreement and any possible addendums.
Leases and Rental Agreements
In this course, we refer mainly to Leases. Leases are for fixed periods of time, often 6 or 12 months. The Lease terms can only change with a new lease or when both parties agree to the change. Rental agreements are nor shorter periods, weekly or monthly and the terms can change more often. In this course we us the term Lease to cover both Lease Agreements and Rental Agreements.
A Standard Residential Lease Agreement
A Residential Lease includes the following details:
- DATE of the rental agreement/lease
- PROPERTY details, including the address
- TERM of the tenancy— either fixed-term or month-to-month after the fixed-term expires
- RENT amount, date due, method of payment, late charge fees, returned check fees
- ADDRESS for notices and payments
- DEPOSITS for security/damage, pets, any cleaning fees, the amount and bank where funds are held
- REFUND DEPOSIT and the refund conditions
- KEY fees and return
- OCCUPANTS, their names, and the maximum number of residents allowed
- UTILITIES and which services are paid by the tenant and the landlord
- RENTERS INSURANCE (if required)
- ASSIGNMENT AND SUBLEASING conditions (if allowed)
- ALTERATIONS to the property and when approvals are required
- ADDITIONAL PROVISIONS listed in the lease: maintenance and repairs; access; use of premises; disturbing the peace; pets and animals; attorney fees; notice to vacate; waivers; references the state landlord-tenant act
- DETAILS OF FUNDS RECEIVED including rent / deposits / non-refundable fees
Typical Lease Addendums
An addendum is a document that’s added to a lease agreement. It clarifies specific rules of that rental agreement. These addendums – there may be several – establish the rules of conduct you’re agreeing to and will be legally bound to once you do sign. Therefore, these documents are worth getting familiar with and paying close attention to. Claiming you weren’t aware of a detail in these documents will not be an excusable reason for not following them. Addendums may also contain the special rules pertaining to, or prohibiting certain kinds of activities.
Here are some typical addendums that might be attached to a typical lease:
- Smoke-Free Lease Addendum – requires the tenant to smoke outside the building.
- Mold and Mildew Addendum – requires the tenant to ventilate and keep temperatures above certain levels to avoid mold and mildew growing inside the house.
- Crime-Free Lease addendum – requires the tenant to avoid all illegal activities on the premises.
- Garage Addendum – gives the tenant the right to use the garage for certain purposes.
- Pet Policy Addendum – gives the tenant the right to keep specific pets on the property, may require a pet deposit, or pet fee, which may or may not be refundable.
- Marijuana Addendum – stipulates if and how marijuana can be kept and used on the property.
- Bedbug Addendum – stipulates the precautions tenants should take to avoid infestations of bed bugs; and the party responsible for the cost of eliminating the bed bugs
- Lead Paint Disclosure Addendum – discloses the landlord’s knowledge of any lead paint.
- Smoke Detectors/Carbon Monoxide Detector Addendum – assigns responsibility for testing and replacing batteries
- Miscellaneous regulations: Must notify your landlord if you’ll be away from the property for an extended amount of time; the responsibilities of your guests; how you are to dispose of certain kinds of waste and store flammable materials; that you must give prompt reporting of damage and infestations; prohibited changes to the property and installations of fixtures; regulations regarding wall hangings and waterbeds; parking rules and car repairs on premises; rules regarding pool & recreational facilities; regulations of storage and common areas and laundry facilities; etc.
This is an example of an addendum about bed bugs.