What to Include in a Lease Agreement

Learn common clauses that landlords include in residential leases, as well as tips for writing a fair and compliant agreement.

Last Updated
April 6, 2023
What to Include in a Lease Agreement

Lease agreements are crucial documents that codify the roles and responsibilities of tenants and landlords in a rental property relationship. It’s the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that their lease agreements comply with their local real estate laws around security deposit returns, late fees, rent increases, and renters insurance requirements. The lease is also an opportunity for the landlord to clearly state their expectations on issues such as subletting, pets, landscaping responsibilities, smoking, and more. 

In this article, we’ll share common clauses to include in residential leases, as well as tips for writing a fair and compliant agreement. 

9 terms to include in a residential lease agreement

While landlords should tailor their leases to their unique rental property needs, lease agreements generally contain the following clauses. Be sure to check your local tenant and rental property laws for all of these items, but particularly security deposits and landlord access, which have varying regulations across states. 

  1. Basic information: First off, your lease should include the names of the landlord and tenant(s), address of the rental property, and the dates of the lease term. You can also note whether the lease automatically turns into a month-to-month arrangement after the initial term.
  2. Payment terms: Clearly state the monthly rent amount, due dates, and acceptable payment methods. You should also note whether you’ll charge late fees, the amount of those fees, and the grace period, if applicable. 
  3. Security deposit: Include the security deposit amount required and when a renter’s deposit will be used by the landlord (e.g., property damage, unpaid rent, cleaning costs, etc.). You can also explain how and when the remaining deposit amount will be returned once the tenant moves out.  
  4. Maintenance: While reasonable wear and tear is expected, your lease should note that tenants are responsible for maintaining the property and its appliances, fixtures, carpets, smoke detectors, and more. It’s also important for tenants to understand they should quickly alert the landlord of any maintenance issues such as a small leak, before they turn into larger repairs. This section can also include restrictions on alterations to the property, such as painting or drilling holes in the walls. 
  5. Responsibilities: Clearly state any maintenance tasks that tenants are responsible for. For example, some landlords require tenants to mow the rental property’s lawn, or pay for utilities. 
  6. Amenities: Provide a description of amenities that renters have access to, including parking, storage, pool, electric vehicle charging, common areas, etc. Be sure to also mention any areas on the property that are not accessible, such as a locked shed or barn. 
  7. House rules: In order to keep up their property value and maintain good relations with neighbors, landlords can include a list of “house rules” for their rental property. This can include policies on pets, smoking, subletting, noise, and illegal behaviors. 
  8. Landlord access: Rental property owners need to visit the premises from time to time. This clause lays out why a landlord may enter the property — such as to address a maintenance issue or show the unit to potential tenants — and that they’ll provide advance notice before any non-emergency visit. 
  9. Disclosures: Most states have a list of required disclosures for rental properties regarding issues such as lead paint, bed bugs, mold, and more. Review your state’s requirements and use templates for these disclosures in your lease agreement. 

Tips for writing a rental property lease agreement

Be aware of local real estate laws

Rental property owners need to educate themselves to ensure their lease agreement is compliant with the real estate laws in their area. Most states and even local jurisdictions have regulations around key issues like rent increases, security deposits, required disclosures, evictions, tenant privacy, and more. Property owners who fail to understand and follow these regulations can find themselves facing lawsuits, monetary fines, or other legal challenges. If possible, it’s a good idea to have a real estate lawyer review your lease agreement before it gets signed. 

Use a lease agreement template, then customize

To make sure you include all the necessary components in your lease agreement, start with an existing template. Landlords can find a variety of lease resources online, then tailor the lease agreement to their unique rental property situation. For example, for landlords who own rental properties in Southern California, the Apartment Association of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) offers a library of hundreds of forms for everything from lease agreements to rental applications to addendums to rent reminders and more. 

Review and make changes as needed

At the start of every new tenancy or lease term, re-read your lease agreement and make any necessary updates. Perhaps your last tenant painted the bedroom walls purple without asking, so you need to add a clause on acceptable property alterations. Or maybe you no longer want to allow tenants to have pets. Whatever the changes, take the opportunity to carefully review your lease agreement and make sure it aligns with your current standards and preferences. 

Use online tools to create and manage your lease agreement

Landlords can save time and stay organized by creating, sending, and storing their rental property lease agreements online. Rather than printed leases, using an online platform makes it easier to edit leases and share with tenants for e-signing. A digital lease is also more accessible if you need to double check something, instead of wondering where you placed the paper document. 

How Azibo streamlines lease agreements

Azibo allows landlords to create and store online lease agreements for multiple tenants and rental properties in one place. Our compliant, customizable lease templates cover all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Azibo’s integrated platform makes it easy to populate your lease documents with core information and terms from tenant screening and applications, helping you save time and avoid errors. Once you create your lease agreement, you can conveniently share it with tenants for e-signature, then get notified once signing is complete. 

Ready to streamline lease creation? Learn more about Azibo today

Seeking detailed information on lease agreements tailored to specific states? Explore our expanding collection of articles for insights catered to each region:

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Other related articles

Rental rundown background image
Rental rundown hero image

Whether you’re a property owner, renter, property manager, or real estate agent, gain valuable insights, advice, and updates by joining our newsletter.

Subscriber Identity

I am a

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.