What Is A Standard Lease Agreement?

What is a lease agreement?

A “lease agreement” is often defined as a document that officially outlines the terms under which one party agrees to rent property from another party in a legally binding relationship. The purpose of lease agreements is to protect both the lessee (renter/tenant) and the lessor (property owner/landlord). A standard lease agreement is composed of different parts.
1. Name(s) of all the “Parties”
The lease agreement should include all potential tenants and landlord. There does not necessarily have to be a separate lease for each tenant but each individual must sign the lease/rental agreement. This ensures that everyone is bound by the terms stated in the document and legal action can be taken if one of the terms are broken.
2. Where the property is located/Description of the property
The “premises” should state the where the house/apartment/condo is located. It should also identify the type of place that is being rented. Often, the lease agreement should specifically and explicitly ensure that everyone is aware of the place being offered.
3. The term and limits of occupancy
A standard lease agreement should state the beginning and ending terms of the lease by date so there is a clear understanding of when the tenant can move in and when they must leave. Rental agreements are usually month to month and will have a different set of rights compared to a lease which is usually a year long.
4. The amount of rent/When the rent is due
Rent is an important part of the lease agreement and both parties should agree on the price that is stated on the document. There should also be an exact date showing when the rent will be collected (each month). This make sure there is no confusion when it comes to paying the correct amount each month and when it needs to be paid.
5. Security Deposits and fees
Landlords usually collect a security deposit at the beginning of the lease in which the tenant promises to treat the property respectfully. There should be an exact value stated for the deposit.
The security deposit is usually returned to the tenant after they move out if everything goes smoothly. If not, it may be used for issues like damage repair (this should also be stated in the agreement). There are non-returnable fees that must be stated.  It is encouraged to do extensive research on the state limitations since it varies throughout the country.
Note In Ontario Canada a deposit of Last Month's rent is required when signing. Damage deposit cannot be asked for but can exist with mutual agreement. 
6. Alterations, Repairs, and Maintenance
These are important aspects to the lease agreement because they should state if the tenant is allowed to do things like paint the walls, install systems, and things of the like. If they do make any alterations without permission, they may be subject to legal prosecution. It also helps clarify whether or not the tenant will be fined if anything wrong happens to the premise where they are living. The tenant may also be required to uphold the quality of the area and pay for damages from neglect.
7. Access to property
As a precaution, the lease agreement should also state the landlord’s right to access the property if situations arise. This prevents claims of illegal entry from the tenant. It should also be stated that the tenant will be notified beforehand (and how much of an advanced notice will be given) if the landlord were to visit the premise.
8. Pets and conditions
There will often be a segment regarding whether or not the tenant is allowed to house pets. Even if pets are allowed on the premises, this portion of the agreement should state any restrictions there are (pets may be limited to small animals such as fish or hamsters). This should also indicate that the tenant keeps the area clean.
9. Other/Legal Restrictions
A section is needed to make sure that both parties are aware of all the laws that bind them to this legal document. This could include “health and safety codes” as well as state laws that must be followed in a household. The lease should explicitly restrict illegal activity so that other residents and/or neighbours will not file lawsuits.
In general, there are many other things that could be included in a lease agreement such as a smoking policy, parking, utilities, types of furniture, termination, noise levels, attorney fees, and perks. Individuals must make sure to read things carefully and understand what they are signing!
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