How to Sign a Rental Lease Agreement With Your Tenants

In order to sign a rental lease with your tenants, you will need to have – of course – a rental lease. You can get a state-specific lease agreement from a number of sources, such as Government Agencies or your attorney. Each Region has different rules and laws that govern the landlord-tenant policies in that state, so chances are a lease found for free online may not be legally binding for you. Having a strong, loophole-free lease agreement is probably the most important aspect of maintaining good, long-term tenants who treat your property the way it deserves to the be treated . 

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Before purchasing your lease agreement, however, you need to decide on whether you want a month-to-month rental agreement, a one-year lease, or something in between. Others choose to offer only month-to-month leases, to hold on to the ability to quickly and easily remove a tenant if things don’t work out right. Still others choose a six or nine month lease, which is often helpful for ensuring a lease doesn’t end during the holiday months of November through January, when vacancies are the most difficult to fill. 

Check with your local attorney for Regional specific forms you may be required to provide.

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How to Sign a Lease Agreement

Don’t sign at a coffee shop or via the mail/fax, but actually meet at the property on the day they will be moving in. I find it helpful to go through the lease ahead of time and mark all the signature or initial areas with post-it notes or a highlighter so nothing will be forgotten or missed. When you meet with the tenant, walk them through each provision in the lease – step by step – and sign as you go. This may be time-consuming but will help protect you when the tenant says, “Well, I didn’t know that” months down the road. 

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You may consider having the tenant initial next to important items as well, such as a “no pet” policy. It’s easy for a tenant to later forget details, so having an initial is helpful in jogging their memory later on. 

Accepting the Rent

During the lease signing, when you get to the part that says how much the monthly rent is – this is a good time to get the money for the first month’s rent. You should have already received their security deposit so typically this is when you will collect their first month’s rent. If a tenant moves in during the middle of the month, I don’t pro-rate the amount they pay upon first moving in. Instead, I pro-rate the second month to match the first. 

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In other words – every tenant pays a full month’s rent when they move in, but when it comes time to pay the rent on the 1st of the next month, they will only pay for the amount of days they lived at the home in the previous month. For example – if the rent is $1200 per month, and they move in on the 10th of August, they will pay a full $1200 for rent when they move in, but will only pay $800 on 1st September.Ultimately, you may change or adapt your style as you learn more and grow. 

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