7 Tips to Write a Lease Agreement

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Thinking about becoming a landlord? Then you need these tips on writing a lease agreement!

The following is a guest post from my bloggy friend Ashley Nielsen. Interested in having a guest post on my website? Click here for my guest post submission form.

Tips on Writing a Lease Agreement

When becoming a landlord, you should always provide your tenants with a lease that protects your rights and theirs. A lease agreement is a legally binding document with the terms and conditions of property rentals. 

Lease agreements benefit landlords because they ensure a tenant cannot disrupt other tenants with noise, treat the property disrespectfully, or cause others problems. Meanwhile, a lease also protects tenants by setting clear expectations about what the landlord is responsible for, including snow cleanup and trash pickup, while setting clear rules for how tenants can use their homes. Unfortunately, most landlords aren’t lawyers, so writing a lease agreement or a rental agreement can be difficult and downright confusing. Here are a few tips to help you write a lease. 

Start With an Outline

Outlining your lease will help you understand all the necessary components and pieces of information that need to be laid out for tenants before they sign. Each section should start on a new page with a header and have subheadings when applicable. The sections you should include in your lease are:

  • Leased Property: Information about the property, including whether it’s a house, apartment, or condo, along with the name of the landlord and the location
  • Duration or term: The duration of the lease, which can range from a month to a year or more. You can also include your policy for renewing the lease. 
  • Rent amount: The total amount the tenant will pay, including base rent and additional fees for pets or parking spots. You should also include when rent is due, the accepted form of payment, and any other information about what’s included or not included in rent. 
  • Deposit fee: The amount someone pays for the security deposit and how they can get a refund when there’s no damage at the end of their lease. You should also define what qualifies as damage to the rental. 
  • Utility costs: If utilities are not included in rent, you should define the typical cost of utilities or how tenants can set up their utilities with the power company. 
  • Late fees: Fees for penalties on late rent payments that should state when a tenant will be charged a late fee. You may choose to include a grace period, especially if payment dates fall on a weekend or holiday. 
  • Tenant Responsibilities and Rights: The legal rights of tenants according to the state should be outlined in your lease, along with the responsibilities they have to the property, including the use of the property, cleanliness, and following local health and safety guidelines. 
  • Landlord Responsibilities and Rights: Landlord rights and responsibilities when renting units, including maintaining the property, making repairs, and following all local laws. 
  • Lease Termination: Explains how someone can terminate their lease before the agreed-upon date. Most landlords define circumstances in which a tenant can cancel the lease, including paying any fees. Additionally, the termination section should cover what happens when the landlord chooses to terminate the lease, including situations when they can, like failure to pay, property damage, illegal activity, and other lease violations. 
  • Governing Law: The governing law is the section of the lease that states the law the lease follows, usually with a stipulation that the law overrides the lease if it’s incorrect without invalidating the entire agreement.
  • Additional Property or Community Rules: Many landlords choose to add additional rules for the property or community. For example, if an apartment complex allows dogs, they may have a rule stating that dogs cannot be near the pool and all residents must pick up after their dogs on walks. 

Talk to a Real Estate Lawyer

write-lease-agreement- man-and-woman-reading-paperwork

To write a legally binding contract, you must follow local and state laws regarding tenant rights. Many laws dictate the types of terms you can have in your lease agreement, and they vary, so you can check your local laws or hire a real estate lawyer to help you understand the types of information allowed in your lease. If you want to save time and hassle, you can hire a lawyer to draft your lease agreement for you or ask them to review the lease once you’ve finished writing it to ensure everything stated can be upheld in court. 

Specify Pet Policy

If you allow tenants to have pets with restrictions or additional rules, you must specify them in your lease. You can also cover your bases by specifying that you don’t allow pets in units and the consequences for the tenant if you discover they’re housing a pet. Your pet policy can be as strict as you want, including restrictions for types of dog breeds, number of pets, the types of pets allowed, and weight restrictions. Of course, you can also completely prohibit animals in the unit. 

Add Right of Entry Information

Every state has a Right of Entry stimulation that tells landlords how much notice they have to give tenants before entering their homes. Knowing this law can help you avoid a potential lawsuit, but you should also include it in the lease to ensure tenants understand the law and that you have the right to enter their apartment as long as you give them notice.

Specify What to Do in Emergencies

Emergencies happen after hours, and a landlord can’t be present at all times waiting for them. Instead, you can specify what tenants should do if they have a maintenance issue that’s an emergency, like a broken pipe or flood. Since you must be available to respond to these types of situations, you can give tenants an emergency phone number where they can reach someone for help immediately. 

Activity Restrictions

Landlords can include their code of conduct in their lease to help tenants understand what type of behaviors are expected of them. For example, you can prohibit loud music after a certain time or prevent tenants from allowing unauthorized pets to enter their homes. In addition, activity restrictions give tenants a clear idea of what they’re not allowed to do, helping to prevent them from lease violations. 

Have Clear Payment Terms and Conditions

Your lease might already state how much rent a tenant owes at the beginning of the month and the types of payments you accept. However, it’s always a good idea to add a page about payments to your lease to ensure they know where to look when they have questions. You can give them a page that discusses how security deposits work and how they can pay rent, along with instructions for how to pay rent online or after hours. 

Final Thoughts

Before allowing someone to move into your rental property, you need to set clear terms and conditions with them to ensure they’re following the law and know their rights while also protecting your apartment and your reputation. A lease is beneficial for landlords and tenants because it lays out the different expectations for one another to prevent misunderstandings down the line.

About the Author


Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a freelance writer where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, wellness or financial tips. During her free time she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music. 

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