A lease agreement, also known as a rental agreement, is a legal document that is written to specify the agreed terms and responsibilities the landlord or owner and you, as the tenant, have for the specified property.
Why a Lease Agreement is Necessary
A lease agreement is a very necessary part of rental transactions because it defines the “rules” and expectations where neither party will get taken advantage of. It protects the landlord and their property while protecting you from unnecessary costs and assumptions made by either party. Simply, it holds both parties accountable, producing a smooth and hopefully hassle-free business relationship.
Written Rental Lease Versus Verbal
If possible, never enter into a rental lease agreement that is verbal. This is cautioned on a few fronts. If there is a problem, there is no official way to legally hold a person responsible if he does not hold up his end of the deal. This could negatively affect either or both parties. Be sure to note that verbal leases occur when you make your first payment to the landlord.
A written rental lease is more formal and provides a reviewable resource to draw from if either party in the contract breaks the terms. This can be used for simple reference and serve as a reminder of obligations, or it can be used as proof in court. In the event that the situation needs to be taken to court, the rental lease will prevail and both the tenant and the landlord will be responsible for their actions and have the consequences as outlined in the contract.
Make Sure a Lease Agreement is not Violating any Laws
If you are a tenant, you need to understand your rights as a renter. Each state has different laws that pertain to each instance and situation. Some of the most common ways a landlord violates the law, even in a lease agreement, is when they evict a tenant for nonpayment. Most states require a notice to be given and a specified amount of time to move out your belongings and vacate. In some states, the eviction process can take up to a couple of months. Make sure to take note of grace periods for late payments as well as evictions.
You also need to pay special attention to the “right of entry” sections in the lease agreement. Make sure they are within the normal rights of the landlord. There are some states that allow the landlord to enter into your rental at any time where some states only allow entrance in case of an emergency. Most landlords are required by law to give at least 24 hours notice of entry into the rental.
Security deposits are a big part of the rental transaction. Make sure your landlord is within his rights when asking for a deposit. In most every state, it is customary to ask for a month’s rent for a security deposit. It is advised to check with your state laws if the amount exceeds this limit.
It is always good to have knowledge about what lease agreements are and how they affect you. It is important to be aware of and protect your rights as a renter.