Sign me up for updates. Sign up now

Donate Take Action

Understanding a Lease or Rental Agreement

Following are some of the basic descriptions of leases or rental agreements:

Contact Information: Landlord, manager, and tenant’s addresses, phone numbers, emails, and other contact information.

Address: Property to be rented.

Monthly Rent: Amount due, due date, when rent is considered late, and amount of late fee if rent submitted late.

Security Deposit: The amount of security deposit and the conditions under which the entire security deposit is to be returned to tenant at end of term.

Last Month's RentIf this is collected in addition to a security deposit, explanation that this will not be returned.  If this is collected instead of a security deposit, explanation of whether it will be returned.

Length of Time: A lease is typically a one-year term, while a rental agreement is normally month-to-month, renewing automatically.  A lease is binding for the year and nothing can be changed during that period of time.  A rental agreement can typically change with 30-day notice from either the landlord or the tenant.

Early Termination: The contract should clearly explain the conditions and process for either landlord or tenant to terminate the lease early.  It should include any fees for terminating the lease and if you are able to find a sublet for the existing lease or find a new tenant.

End of TermThis should explain what happens at the end of the lease: it automatically ends, it automatically renews, or it converts to month-to-month.

MaintenanceThe contract should describe which maintenance activities are the responsibility of the landlord and which are the responsibility of the tenant.