What is a residential lease agreement?


Quick Answer

A residential lease agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant that details the terms for renting an apartment or a house as a dwelling place. Also known as a landlord-tenant lease or an apartment rental agreement, this contract is usually signed at the beginning of a rental term and stays in effect until an end date specified in the agreement.

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Full Answer

Residential lease agreements put the important terms of the relationship between a landlord and tenant in writing to avoid confusion about who has access to the rented abode and under what conditions. A typical residential lease names all of the tenants, specifies the monthly rental amount and any deposit the tenant must pay upfront, indicates the term of the rental, restricts certain activities by the tenants and details what types of property repairs and maintenance the landlord must handle.

Rental agreements for residential dwellings are governed by state landlord-tenant laws. Consequently, some of the contractual terms that are appropriate and enforceable in residential lease agreements can vary from state to state, even though the basic parts of an apartment or house lease are consistent across states. For example, state laws tend to differ regarding what should happen if a tenant moves out of the rented space and breaks the lease in the middle of a rental term. Some states make the tenant responsible for paying the entire lease term, while others make the tenant responsible for the outstanding months under the lease just until the landlord finds a new tenant.

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