Rental agreements are legal contracts between landlords and renters. Typically, the landlord comes up with the lease agreement and sends it over for the renter to read through and sign. The wording can be a bit complicated, and some renters may have trouble understanding certain terms and policies. It’s always a good idea to ask questions or do your own research before signing any document you don’t understand. You might also consider getting tenant lawyers involved to help.
To make it easier on you to know what to expect, we’ve broken down rental agreements and provided more information about what they typically include. Although landlord tenant law varies between states, there are a few terms and conditions that are common throughout the U.S.
The landlord tenant act outlines the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords. While the responsibilities, protections, and laws surrounding the landlord tenant act vary by state, the act includes:
- Tenancy lengths. The landlord tenant act outlines the four basic tenancy lengths, including lease terms that have a fixed period, lease terms that automatically renew, leases without a fixed period, and leases that continue to allow occupancy after the initial lease expires.
- Quiet enjoyment. Tenants have a duty to ensure that their possessions do not disturb others, including the landlord or their neighbors.
- Sub–leases. Sub-lease clauses in the landlord tenant act determine whether or not a landlord can refuse a sub-lease. This information will be included in the rental agreement that is signed by both the landlord and tenant.
- Eviction. The act outlines reasons that a landlord may evict a tenant, such as failing to meet an obligation of their rental agreement. This portion of the landlord tenant act protects tenants from retaliatory evictions, such as after reported housing violations.
- Anti–discrimination. Landlords may not discriminate against potential or current tenants based on race, color, sex, familial status, religion, national origin, or disability.
Most of the landlord tenant act is outlined in rental agreements shared between landlords and potential renters. Before a tenant can move into a unit, he or she needs to agree to the terms and conditions outlined in the contract.
Here are few common terms and conditions you can expect to find in a housing rental agreement:
- Lease period – Rental agreements should clearly state the start and end dates of the rental period.
- Rent amount and due date – This is the agreed-upon amount of money you will pay to the landlord on the date specified.
- Tenant name(s) – Each tenant should be listed as an occupant.
- Maintenance policy – Your tenant rights include the right to a habitable unit, so the agreement should clearly state what to expect when repairs or maintenance are needed. You may be responsible for certain common fixes, like changing lightbulbs or air filters, while larger repairs may be the landlord’s responsibility.
- Pet policy – Most rental agreements outline whether pets are allowed. If they are, the agreement should also state the maximum number of pets, allowed species and/or breeds.
- Entry terms – Tenant law protects your right to privacy. The contract should explain the procedure for how/when your landlord may enter the unit.
Depending on where you live and the type of housing you are renting, there may be additional terms listed in the agreement. Be sure to read it through carefully before signing, and ask any questions you may have.
You can ask the landlord directly or consult a tenant lawyer for assistance.