Tenants of rented units, whether these are fully furnished homes or unfurnished studio apartments or flats, are all bound by a lease agreement. This document generally lays down the landlord’s ground rules, all of which the tenant will have to abide by.
There are two kinds of agreements for residential units: Lease agreement and Month to Month Rental Agreement. Lease Agreements are used when the lease period lasts for at least a year and both parties are restricted from making changes in the interim, unless this is done in writing and is legally enforceable. Month to Month Rental Agreements are usually set for short and indefinite stays. Rent is paid on a monthly basis and the tenancy agreement may be done verbally. However, even if a tenant is leasing on a monthly basis, it is still advised to put everything in writing.
A Residential Lease Agreement, be it for a long term or short term stays, may vary from state to state, or even from city to city, but wherever the agreement is prepared, it should contain the names and addresses of the parties involved, the agreed upon rental rate, payment terms and the duration of the lease agreement.
In addition to these, Residential Lease Agreements also stipulate provisions or rules with regards to the upkeep of the unit (garbage disposal, payment of utility bills, pets and smoking, etc) as well as its corresponding penalties.
These are legal documents and are considered valid especially when both parties have affixed their respective signatures on it. To protect the tenant and the landlord, both parties are advised to have a copy of the signed lease agreement on file.