Are you getting ready to look for a new apartment? Or, have you found the ideal one with all the bells and whistles you've been dreaming of? That's great! Now comes a step that's critical in the process: Signing the rental lease contract agreement.
Whether or not you've signed a lease before, it's always smart to know what you're getting into. And, not all rental contracts spell out the do's and don'ts in the same way.
The American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), reports lease terms include, but are not limited to, rental location and dates of the rental. The contract also cites rent amount, payment methods accepted, deposit requirements and utilities. It's a legal document between you and the leasing company or landlord and you should treat it as binding once your signature is on it.
What's the big deal you might ask? Not only does a rental contract agreement protect and respect the landlord, but also you, the tenant. The rental agreement makes each tenant legally responsible for all the terms.
The length of the rental period is also defined. It's generally cited as a 12-month term. However, it can also be month-to-month for a short-term lease agreement. Depending on your needs, find out if a short term lease makes sense.
Rental agreements also level the playing field. The document describes the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved. The document protects against the leasing company changing the terms mid-lease. It also protects against a renter up and leaving without notice, or skipping out on paying the rent.
Think of it as your built-in safety net. It could also help with any disputes relating to the apartment or property that might arise.
All rental contracts will be different. However, here is an example of a document that is similar to what you will be asked to sign. Anything in brackets will be replaced and filled in with the relevant information included within the brackets [ ] by your landlord or property manager.
This Rental/Lease Agreement (this “Contract") is made this [fill in day of month] day of [name of month], [year], by and between [Landlord/Apartment Community/Property Management Company Name] located at [City], [State] and [Tenant name], located at [City], [State]. Each Tenant is accountable for payment of rent. This is in conjunction with all terms of this Contract Agreement, including an addendum.
1. Property. The leased dwelling is located at [City], [State] (and will be otherwise known as the “Apartment").
2. Arrangement to Lease. The Property Management Company/Landlord is in agreement to lease to the Tenant. The Tenant is in agreement to lease from the Property Management Company/Landlord, the Apartment, according to the terms and conditions cited in this Contract Agreement.
3. Term. This Lease will be for a term of [number] months beginning on [Lease start date] and ending on [Lease end date] (the “Long Term").
Alternatively, this Lease will be for a shorter Term duration beginning on [Start date] and ending on [End date] (the “ Short Term").
4. Rent. The Tenant will pay the Property Management Company/Landlord a monthly rent of [Rent amount]. The rent can be paid in advance and/or is due on the [Date of month] of each month as obligated by the designated and agreed upon Term.
5. Payment will be made directly to the Property Management Company/Landlord at the address stated above (or at a designated online website portal that has been directed by the Property Management Company for residents of said property). Payment can be made using a debit card or credit card for an additional fee of [Additional fee amount]. It can also be paid by mail or in person by check in the Property Management Office of the Landlord.
Note that the first rent payment is required upon the Tenant signing this Contract Agreement.
6. Additional Monies. Under this Agreement there could be situations where the Tenant may be notified to pay extra monies to the Property Management Company/Landlord. These charges will be in addition to the rent under this Contract Agreement and therefore will be paid upon the upcoming regularly scheduled rent due date.
If the Tenant fails to pay rent, the Tenant will pay a late charge in the amount of [Late fee amount, usually a percentage] of the monthly rent, and will be known as “Additional Rent."
7. Use of Property. The Tenant will only occupy the Apartment. Or, also with his/her/their immediate family only. Or, also with his/her/their pet(s). The Apartment will only be used only for residential purposes. No illegal activities are allowed on the Apartment.
8. Apartment Possession. If the Property Management Company does not give possession of the dwelling to the Tenant on the start date of the Term, the Tenant is not liable for the rent starting on the start date, but only after possession of the Apartment is given to the Tenant. Rent will be pro-rated.
9. Security Deposit. When the Tenant signs this Contract Agreement, the Tenant will pay a security deposit in the amount of [Security deposit amount] to the [Landlord/Apartment Community/Property Management Company Name]. The security deposit will be retained by the Property Management Company/Landlord as security for the Tenant's fulfillment of obligations under this Contract Agreement.
If the Tenant does not abide with the Terms of this Contract Agreement, the Property Management Company/Landlord may apply the security deposit in payment of any amount owed for damages incurred and costs incurred by the Property Management Company/Landlord due to the Tenant's inability to comply to signed obligations of this Contract Agreement.
The Property Management Company/Landlord will provide a written notice to the Tenant that references use of any or all of the security deposit. The Tenant will, within [Number of days] days following receipt of the notice, make a payment directly to the Landlord in an amount equal to that used by the Property Management Company/Landlord in order to reinstate the security deposit to its full monetary value for the remainder of the Tenant's occupancy of the Apartment.
This Contract Agreement may only be amended or modified by way of a written agreement signed by both the Tenant and the Property Management Company/ Landlord.
Landlord or Property Management Company Name: [Printed name]
Company Representative Signature: [Landlord or Property Manager's signature]
Tenant No. 1 Name: [Printed name]
Tenant No. 1 Signature: [Tenant signature]
Tenant No. 2 Name: [Printed name]
Tenant No. 2 Signature: [Tenant signature]