Leases and Rental Agreements

Renting your property without a written property rental agreement or printable lease agreement is a bad idea and could create problems down the road. The landlord tenant laws are complicated with city, county, state and federal laws and regulations.

Landlords and tenants have certain regulations and responsibilities that they must adhere to. Therefore, all of these responsibilities and rights must be clearly set forth so that both parties understand their obligations. Also, should a dispute arise, having a written agreement makes it easier for the court, arbitrator or mediator to resolve the dispute.

Leases vs. Rental Agreements

A lease is generally entered into for a 12 month or longer term, while a rental agreement is generally used for month to month tenancy.

While oral agreements for rental terms under 12 months are enforceable, they are not recommended. With oral agreements, parties are often confused or forget what was negotiated entirely and therefore have little weight in court because neither person has any proof of what was agreed upon.

Common Clauses and Provisions of Leases and Rental Agreements

The following are common clauses and provisions of leases and rental agreements:

  • Parties names and addresses
  • Description of the property
  • Terms
  • Expenses
  • Deposits
  • Security Deposits
  • Use Restrictions
  • Assignments and Sublets
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Attorneys Fees

Negotiating the Lease

Negotiating a lease is not that difficult if you have a few basic strategies in mind for beginning. For instance, one good strategy is to meet at a neutral location. This levels the playing field. It also helps to eliminate any distractions. Be sure to allow enough time for your meeting. Gather as much information from the other person as you can by asking questions. Be a good listener as well. You need to establish trust and also reasonable expectations and objectives. Try to establish things in common and find out about any potential problems. Suggest alternatives, narrow down the issues and above all be pleasant and friendly. Watch the other person's body language especially when they are demanding something in their favor. Don't concede too quickly, and take time to think about concessions you are willing to make. Try and get something in return if you do make concessions. Never ask for too little or make excessive demands. If negotiations come to a stalemate, then try and refresh with new information or change the subject entirely. Leave some room at the end for the other party to negotiate. You may also want to have your attorney look at the agreement before you sign it. Remember the person who is the most prepared has the advantage in the negotiations.

Changes of Lease or Rental Agreement

When entering into a lease there may be changes that you want to make such as oral promises about repairs or other matters that should be documented in writing. All changes to the lease or rental agreement must be dated and initialed by both parties or added as an addendum and signed and dated by both parties. Be sure both parties have copies of all the changes. The language does not need to include legal terms, but must be easily understood by the average person. If the landlord refuses to initial or sign any changes that could be a red flag that trouble might occur later.

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