How to Rent Your Property (Free Lease Agreements)

A Rental Agreement or Lease Agreement is a legal contract used by landlords when renting property to tenants. A lease agreement states the period in which the property will be rented, the responsibilities of both parties during the lease term, applicable rental terms, and any other necessary information.

The document becomes legally enforceable once both parties’ sign. A lease agreement is important due to the legal protection it offers to property owners renting their property to someone else. In addition, through a lease agreement, the roles and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant are clearly spelt out, ensuring that the disputes are mitigated during the lease term. The following categories of people can use a lease agreement.

  • Homeowners with the intention to rent out a part of or the entire home can use a lease agreement to stipulate the terms of leasing to potential and existing tenants.
  • Persons who want to rent out their residential property to a family member or a friend can use a lease agreement. This ensures that contractual obligations are written down and that each party is aware of the ramifications of violating the contractual terms.
  • Property owners and managers and tenant placement service providers such as real estate agencies use lease agreements to bind the tenants to the lease legally.
  • Individuals who want to rent property to another party and awarding them an option to buy can use a lease agreement to ensure this agreement is documented.

A lease or rental agreement is referred to by other names such as;

  • Lease Agreement
  • Rental Agreement
  • Rental Lease Agreement
  • Rental Contract
  • Apartment Lease
  • House Rental Agreement
  • Lease Form

How to Rent Your Property

Lease agreements can be used to rent out apartments, office space, warehouses, houses/homes, retail shops, condominiums, duplexes, townhouses, and other properties – both residential and commercial. Renting property is a step-by-step process. Below is a four-phase guide on how landlords can go about renting their property with a lease agreement.

Phase 1: Choose the correct type of rental agreement

The type of property one owns and intends to rent determines the lease agreement they will use. There are multiple types of lease agreements that serve distinct types of leases and property. Using the appropriate type of lease ensures that landlords cover all the necessary information associated with the type of lease they are entering and the type of property they rent out to a tenant. 

The types of lease agreements to choose from are:

  • One Page: A 1-page lease agreement is a simple agreement typically used for renting property for a fixed lease term such as one year (12 months).
  • Commercial: A commercial lease agreement is a contract entered into by the landlord of a commercial property such as office space, industrial facility, retail space, etc., and his or her tenant(s).
  • Condominium: A condominium lease agreement is a contract that legally binds the owner of a condominium who intends to lease it and the lessee of the condo. A condominium is a residential unit that is part of a complex where each unit is owned by a different individual.
  • Equipment: An equipment lease agreement is used when two parties are leasing equipment such as machinery or tools.
  • Family Member Rental Agreement: A family member rental agreement is a lease contract entered by relatives when they live together as family members to ensure each party’s rights are protected.
  • Hunting: A hunting lease agreement is a contract used by property owners to permit someone who intends to hunt on private property.
  • Lease-Purchase: A lease-purchase or lease-to-own agreement is a contract used by property owners to rent property to tenants who commit to buying the property at a later date. The periodic rent payments are combined with other payments to raise the purchase price.
  • Month-to-Month: A month-to-month lease, also referred to as “tenancy at will,” is an agreement used when landlords want to rent property without committing to a full year or more. The lease can be terminated or amended with a thirty-day notice.
  • Parking Space: A parking space lease agreement is a contract used by parking space owners to rent the space to someone else to be used for parking vehicles or any other automobile.
  • Roommate: A roommate agreement is used by individuals willing to accommodate another person (new roommate or a group) to live with them and assist in paying rent.
  • Standard Lease: A standard agreement is a tenancy agreement to rent out the property (typically residential) for a fixed lease term, usually one year.
  • Sublease: A sublease agreement is used by tenants willing to rent out part or all of the rented property to a third party.
  • Vacation: A vacation lease agreement, also known as a short-term rental agreement, is a contract used to rent out the property for a short period, usually a few days – 1-31 days.
  • Weekly: A weekly rental agreement is a lease contract used to rent property to tenants under the terms that rent is paid weekly.

Phase 2: Tenant screening process

Before renting property to someone, the tenant screening process is mandatory. More often than not, prospective tenants will be strangers – unfamiliar to the landlord. Therefore, getting to know more about the tenant, other than their name, becomes crucial. Also, getting the right tenant ensures disputes are avoided during the tenancy. The following procedural guide can be adopted by landlords when screening tenants. 

Show your rental property

The first step in the process of screening prospective tenants is showing them the property being leased. Most tenants will not agree to any terms before viewing the property. Additionally, meeting applicants in person helps one pick up one or two things about the applicant’s personality.  Property viewing ensures that the landlords have shown what they have to offer and understand the applicant’s expectations. During the viewing, landlords can make a verbal offer in terms of the monthly rental amount. As a landlord, one can hire the services of a manager or estate agent to showcase their property.

Provide a rental application form

If the standards of the space and the verbal offer are acceptable to the prospective tenants, hand them a rental application for them to fill. Ensure the rental application contains all the pertinent information and prompts the tenant to provide information necessary for screening. Also, ask them to pay a small application fee to cover the costs of showing the property and carrying out a background and credit check. 

Run a background and credit check 
Once they have submitted a completed rental application, run a background and credit check based on the information provided. Landlords can use online platforms to do so. Ensure to obtain information on their credit, background, and criminal history. However, information obtained from the results of these checks should not be the sole determinant of whether to select the applicant. Federal anti-discrimination laws and most state guidelines prohibit landlords from discriminating against applicants based on minor offenses or poor credit, and therefore it becomes imperative to be compliant. 

Verify the references 

Lastly, verify information obtained from their application and background checks with the references provided in the rental application. Reach out to previous landlords, employers, and any non-family references provided. Verify if the employment and rental history information provided by the applicant is authentic and credible.  Ask questions about their character and other issues of concern such as noise, smoking, etc.

Phase 3: Write the agreement

Once one has verified the applicant is a suitable fit, proceed to draft the rental lease agreement. When preparing the agreement, landlords should ascertain that it addresses all the essential details of the lease. Landlords can use the procedure discussed below to craft an up to standard lease agreement.

Contact information of the parties

The first item on the lease agreement should be the date, identification, and contact information of the landlord and the tenant. First, indicate the date when the agreement was created in the day, month, and year format. Then, identify the landlord by providing their name and contact information (including the mailing address showing the city and state of residence). This should be followed by the tenant’s identification information which includes their full official name.

Premises

Once the parties have been identified, describe the property to be rented. Property can be described by providing the following details; mailing address, apartment number, the residence type, e.g., apartment, duplex, condo, etc., the number of bathrooms and bedrooms. 

Rent amount

Next, declare the amount of money the tenant will have to part with to cover monthly rent payments. Rent should be declared in figures and the appropriate monetary units. Include a due date, e.g., the 5th of every month, and outline any applicable payment instructions. Payment instructions can address how late payments would be handled and if any late fees are applicable.

Term

The lease agreement should then state the length of the lease term. This is the period the landlord is renting out the property to the named tenant. The lease term does not have to be fixed.

Lease specifics

Afterward, define the lease type. The agreement should specify the exact lease type being adopted by the parties. A lease can be either a fixed lease or a month-to-month lease type. If it is a fixed lease, ensure the first and the last dates of tenancy are indicated.  If it is a month-to-month lease type, indicate the starting date and the number of days each party would have to notify the other before terminating the lease.

Lease violations

When renting property, landlords have specific policies and guidelines set in place. Outline any house policies the tenant should be aware of and the expected consequences. The common types of violations are; loud music/noise, smoking, property damage, too many guests, unauthorized pets, illegal activity, etc.

Eviction

Next, outline and clarify actions that are punishable by eviction. However, evictions should be carefully handled, for most state laws limit situations under which eviction is permitted.

Disclosures and addendums

Disclosures and addendums can be attached to rental lease agreements as a state law requirement or depending on the situation. Indicate the applicable disclosures and addendums at this point in the agreement. Common disclosures and addendums are lead-based paint disclosure, hazardous material, notice to enter addendum, rent increase letter, move-in/move-out inspection checklist, etc.

Notarize

Then the lease agreement should be notarized. It is recommended that the lease agreement be signed at the office of the notary public. The notary public should sign and provide an official stamp. Notarizing is essential for authenticating the agreement.

Signatures

Finally, each party should sign the agreement for it to become legally binding to its signatories. Ensure that the date of signing is included.

Phase 4: Execute the lease

The next phase is to enforce the signed lease agreement. The following steps can be followed to ensure occupancy is transferred from the landlord to the tenant.

Hand over the keys

Firstly, the landlord should give tenants access to the property by handing them the keys to the space being rented and all other common areas.

Collect security deposit

Next, collect a security deposit from the tenant as guided by state laws. Also, have the tenant inspect the property and list any damages on the move-in checklist. Ensure to collect the checklist for it can be used to cross-check the property condition before and after the tenant moves out. This process is vital if any deductions are to be made from the security deposit for tenant-induced damages at the end of the lease; so that the tenant will not claim that they were wrongfully deducted.

Acceptable deductions

In case of early termination or at the expiration of the lease agreement, there are certain deductions landlords can make from the security deposit. They include; overdue rent arrears, cleaning costs, replacement costs of items such as keys, appliances, etc., costs of repairs to significant damages (other than natural wear and tear), and any other deduction permitted by law.

Renewing the lease

Sometimes, tenants might prefer to continue the lease on the same or renewed terms. It is up to the landlords to decide if they will agree to a renewal. If the landlord is unwilling to renew the lease agreement, they should notify the tenant through a tenant rejection letter.

Responsibilities of a Landlord

As a landlord, you are obligated under law to accord your tenants quality living standard on the premises during the lease. Based on that fact, landlords have the following responsibilities when renting out property to a tenant.

Keep the home in good condition

Landlords should repair everyday wear and tear and maintain the premises. They are also responsible for ensuring the premises should meet the county, city health, and safety standards. For example, resolving water damages, providing fire extinguishers, getting rid of mold, etc.

Maintaining common/shared areas

Common areas such as hallways, yards, and driveways require frequent cleaning and maintenance. The landlord must ensure they are kept clean and in good condition.

Provide access to vital services

Services such as cold water, electricity, air conditioning, and fuel, such as natural gas, are the landlord’s responsibility. Ensure these services are in place and functional before renting out the property. Landlords are not permitted to shut off these services even if the tenant has not paid rent.

Provide pertinent documents

Landlords must provide tenants with copies of the rental lease agreement and sometimes a written notice of the landlord’s legal name and address. Also, if the tenant requests documents such as receipts, the landlord should provide them without charging an additional fee.

Landlord and Tenant Laws

Rental lease agreements should be law-compliant. Therefore, landlords should familiarize themselves with applicable landlord-tenant state laws before creating a rental lease agreement. State laws address a wide range of aspects regarding leasing – for example, security deposit laws, eviction laws, state laws on landlord’s access to rental property, grace periods laws, and maximum allowed late rent fees laws.

Free Templates

Following are free templates downloadable for you.

Lease Agreement Template (by State)

Lease Agreement Templates (by Type)


Commercial-Lease-Agreement_

Commercial Lease Agreement

Commercial agreements are agreements used to rent out non-residential buildings, industrial spaces, offices, and retail properties.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Condominium-Lease-Agreement-Template_

Condominium Lease Agreement Template

A condominium lease agreement is used to rent condominiums (units in a complex owned by different individuals). It can be used where a tenant intends to rent with an option to purchase.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Equipment-Lease-Agreement

Equipment Lease Agreement

Equipment lease agreements are agreements used for renting out equipment such as machinery, tools, etc.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Family Member Lease Agreement

Family Member Lease Agreement

A family member lease agreement allows other family members, i.e., son or a spouse, to pay the rent for the leased property.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Hunting-Lease-Agreement-Template_

Hunting Lease Agreement Template

A hunting lease agreement is used by individuals seeking permission to hunt on privately owned property.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Lease-to-Own-Option-to-Purchase-Agreement

Lease to Own Option to Purchase Agreement

Landlords who are renting out a residential property to tenants with an option to sell the same property to the same tenant use a lease-purchase agreement. Rental payments plus add-ons are used to cover the purchase price.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Month-to-Month-Lease-Agreement-Template_

Month to Month Lease Agreement Template

A month-to-month lease is used by landlords who do not wish to rent out their property for a fixed term; therefore, the lease arrangement is renewed every month and can be altered with a thirty-day notice.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


One 1 Page Residential Lease Agreement

One -1 Page Residential Lease Agreement

One-page lease agreements are simple lease agreements used for fixed-term tenancy such as 12 months.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Parking-Space-Rental-Agreement-Template_

Parking Space Rental Agreement Template

A parking space lease agreement is used to rent out a privately owned parking space to another party for use for their vehicle, motorcycle, etc.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Roommate-Agreement-Template_

Roommate Agreement Template

A room rental agreement is used when seeking a roommate with whom one is to share the residential rental obligation

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Short-Term-Vacation-Lease-Agreement_

Short Term Vacation Lease Agreement

A vacation lease agreement is one that property owners use to rent out their property for a few days, such as a vacation. It is also referred to as a short-term lease agreement.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Standard-Residential-Lease-Agreement-Form_

Standard Residential Lease Agreement Form

A standard residential lease agreement is used to lease property for one year or any fixed lease term.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Sublease-Agreement_

Sublease Agreement

A sublease residential lease agreement is one used by tenants to rent out the rented property to another party.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)


Week-to-Week-Lease-Agreement-Form_

Week to Week Lease Agreement Form

A weekly lease agreement is used by landlords renting their property on a weekly basis such that rent is paid every week.

Download: Microsoft Word (.docx)

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do I rent a room in my house?

    Individuals who intend to rent out a room within their house can use a lease agreement to declare the space they want to rent out and the leasing terms and conditions. They can use a roommate rental agreement if they are going to be living under the same roof.

    Do I need to notarize my rental lease agreement?

    No. a rental lease agreement does not need to be notarized to be legally valid. The two parties (landlord and the tenant) can sign the document, after which the document becomes legally valid and enforceable.

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