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Rental/Lease Agreement


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Residential Lease?A Residential Lease is a legally binding contract between a landlord and tenant. The Lease gives a tenant the right to use and enjoy the described residential property in exchange for money. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant during the tenancy.

Governments have enacting laws to protect to tenants by ensuring them a minimum set of rights. A Residential Lease cannot take away these basic rights.
Why do I need a written Lease?A Lease provides clarity. It clearly outlines the boundaries and responsbilities for both the landlord and the tenant. Moreover, the problem with oral agreements is that they can be difficult to enforce. In a dispute, a landlord and tenant board or a court hears evidence to decide whose version of the story to accept. If there is a written agreement, landlord and tenant boards and courts are generally obligated to uphold the terms of the written agreement.What is a basement suite and how does this differ from renting a room?A basement suite is a self-contained dwelling unit with its own kitchen, bathroom, and living area. They often feature a private entrance to the house for the Tenant.

Renting a room, on the other hand, means the Tenant will likely share part of the accommodations with the Landlord or other tenants. The kitchen, bathroom, and house entrance are common examples of shared space.

Location of Property


Your Residential Lease Agreement will be governed by the laws of Virginia. It is tailored to meet the specific laws and regulations of Virginia. This will affect the choices presented in the questionnaire subsquently as different States have different restrictions.

The questionnaire and the help throughout will guide you in determining appropriate answers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which State should I choose?The laws of the state where the property is located will be used to enforce this Lease and will be used to help resolve any disputes.What is meant by the "Act"?The "Act" refers to the legislation governing residential tenancy agreements in your state. It is not necessary to specifically state the name of the "Act" in your contract, as the relevant legislation is satisfactorily identified by the severability clause of your lease.

Length of Lease


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Frequently Asked Questions

Difference between a fixed term and an automatically renewing lease?Fixed Term - A fixed term lease ends on a specific date and doesn't usually require notice to terminate the lease.

A fixed term lease provides certainty since the terms, including rent, cannot be changed for the agreed term unless the Landlord specifically reserves the right in the Lease and the Tenant agrees to the changes.


Automatic Renewal - A lease that will renew automatically every month or year. This type of lease will continue until a party chooses to terminate the lease.

To terminate the automatic renewing lease, the Landlord or Tenant must give notice of their intention to leave as required by law. If the Tenant fails to move out at the end of the notice period, the Landlord can start eviction proceedings against them.

The Landlord can also raise the rent or change the terms of the automatic renewing lease by providing the Tenant with proper notice as required by law.
Types of fixed term tenancies?Fixed End Date - the lease will run from the start date until a specified date (i.e. the lease could start on September 1, 2005 and end on August 30, 2008).

Fixed Number of Weeks/Months/Years - the lease will run from the start date for a specified number of weeks/months/years (i.e. the lease could start on September 1, 2005 and then continue for a period of 18 weeks/months/years).
What happens if the tenant leaves early?With a fixed term lease, the tenant is still responsible for paying rent for the entire length of the lease if he leaves early. However, there may be an exception if the tenancy is located in a jurisdiction which allows a tenant to end a fixed term lease early by giving notice.

If the landlord is able to re-rent the premises before the end of the lease of the breaching tenant, the tenant is no longer required to pay rent since the landlord cannot collect double rent.

Can lease terms be changed?Generally, the landlord may not change the terms of the lease during its term.

If the landlord changes the terms of the lease for the next period by giving appropriate notice, the tenant has two options. The tenant may accept the changes and continue to live at the property or may give proper statutory notice to terminate the lease.

Property Address

(e.g. 103)
Virginia

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my city is part of a county?For the majority of US cities, a city is part of a county. However, an independent city is a city that does not belong in a particular county. It may physically be inside a county but the independent city would not fall under the legal jurisdication of the county. An example is Baltimore, Maryland.How should I fill out the questions?Fill in the appropriate information at your own pace. You're not required to fill out everything at once. A blank space is generally provided in the form that can be filled in later if you are missing information about one of the parties. You may also come back to the question page to fill out the missing information at your leisure.

Property Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What are furnishings?Furnishings are furniture, appliances and other movable items such as curtains, carpets that are necessary or useful for comfort or convenience.

Furnishings can even include beds, pictures, plants, televisions and other items similar to a room in a long term hotel or motel.

Landlord Information

Landlord

Landlord Contact Details

(optional)
(optional)
Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the landlord?The Landlord owns the property and allows the Tenant to use the property in exchange for monetary payments called rent.What is a property manager?The Property Manager is the person hired by the Landlord to deal with the Tenant and manage the operation of the rental property.

Property managers are most commonly used in rental properties that have multiple units.

Tenant Information 

Tenant

Tenant Contact Details

(optional)

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the tenant?The Tenant is the person who will be paying rent to the Landlord to rent the Property, and the Tenant is reponsible for signing the Lease.

Do not list minors as a Tenant. Children should be listed as occupants.
Are children tenants or occupants?Children/minors are occupants and not tenants.Who are occupants?Occupants are people who stay at the property but are not liable for paying any rent and thus not an actual party to the Lease. (e.g. An out of town guest/relative of the tenant). Generally, guests are not permitted to stay at the property for an extended period of time.

It is the responsibility of the tenant to get the written permission of the landlord before allowing guests to stay for an extended period.
Who can stay at the property?Only tenants and people listed as occupants may reside at the property. The landlord must be informed and approve of any change to the list of permitted tenants. Minor children of the tenant who live at the property are automatically added to the Lease as occupants.

Guarantor Information

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a guarantor?A guarantor or surety is a person who agrees to pay any losses directly to the landlord should the tenant be unable to pay the rent, or otherwise breach the Lease.

It is NOT one of the tenants.

Rent

(e.g. 850.00)
(e.g. first, fifteenth)

Rent Increase


Property Permissions



Frequently Asked Questions

Are there restrictions on allowing home-based businesses?The Property must be zoned for home-based businesses and permit the type of business that the tenant wishes to operate.

Some municipalities will also require that the tenant obtain a business permit to operate out of the Property.

Deposits


Pet Deposit or Fee

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a deposit?
A deposit is a sum of money the Tenant pays to the Landlord to guarantee that the Tenant will fulfill their obligations under the Lease.

The Landlord holds the deposit in trust for the term of the Lease to ensure the Tenant doesn't default on the terms or otherwise damage the property (normal wear and tear excluded). If the Tenant damages the property or fails to pay rent, the Landlord is entitled to recover the amount owing from that deposit.

Some jurisdictions restrict the amount of a deposit. You should review the relevant acts for your jurisdiction if you are unsure about the deposit requirements.
How much can the landlord charge as security deposit?This is governed by statute and differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The statutory amount that can be charged is typically between half a month's rent to two months rent depending on the governing legislation. The most common amount is one month's rent.Pet Fee vs. Pet Deposit?Pet Fee - a one time non-refundable fee charged to the Tenant by the Landlord for being allowed to keep a pet at the Property.

Pet Deposit - a deposit paid by the Tenant and held by the Landlord for any potential damage that the pet may do to the Property. It is separate from the Damage or Security Deposit paid by the Tenant. If no pet damage is done to the Property when the Lease ends, the Pet Deposit will be refunded back fully to the Tenant.

Late Payments

Frequently Asked Questions

When do Late Payment Charges start?Tenants must pay rent on the date it is due. A grace period doesn't allow the tenant to pay rent late nor does it prevent a landlord from giving a notice to terminate for late rent.

A grace period does affect when late payment fees can be charged. Late payment charges will only apply after the expiration of the longer of the grace period required by the Lease or that which local law requires.

It's recommended that you review your jurisdiction’s statutes if you're unfamiliar with the grace period requirements or the late payment fees that can be charged.
What is a reasonable Late Payment Fee? A reasonable fee should be a pre-estimate of the damage you expect to suffer from a late payment and not a penalty.

Notices



Notice to Terminate in Virginia

In Virginia, in a fixed period rental, no notice period is required, as the rental ends on the last day of the lease.


If the tenant fails to pay the rent, a landlord can evict with 5 days notice.

If the tenant breaches another provision of the rental agreement, a landlord can evict with 30 days notice.

Unless a shorter notice period is agreed upon in the rental agreement, the following periods apply:
For a week to week rental, a landlord or tenant must provide at least 7 days notice to terminate;
For a month to month rental, a landlord or tenant must provide at least 30 days notice to terminate;
For a year to year rental, a landlord or tenant must provide at least 3 months notice to terminate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is notice to enter?The Landlord usually does not have the right to enter a rented apartment suite unless there is an emergency such as a fire or gas leak. As long as the landlord gives proper notice (as required by statute), the Tenant cannot refuse entry to the Landlord.

Typically, a written 24 to 48 hours notice containing the time and purpose of the entry is considered as reasonable notice by the Landlord to enter the Property outside of emergencies.

What is notice to terminate?A notice to terminate is the amount of time required to terminate a lease.

Most jurisdictions have a minimum notice period required by law. The Lease can specify a notice period longer than the legal minimum, but it cannot specify a period shorter than the legal minimum.

If you're not familiar with the minimum legal notice requirements in your local area, you should consult your jurisdiction's relevant statutes for clarification.

Utilities and Other Costs

Who is responsible for paying the following utilities for the Property?

Tenant
Pays
Landlord
Pays

Do not
specify

Frequently Asked Questions

Difference between utility costs and maintenance?The responsibility for performing or paying the costs relating to such things as lawn maintenance or yard work would be normally covered under the maintenance section.

Maintenance

Service/utility channels are the conduits, pipes, wires, cables, and aerials used with the drainage, water, gas, electricity, telecommunications, and other services on the Property,

Insurance

Who is responsible for obtaining and paying the following insurance?

Tenant
Pays
Landlord
Pays

Do not
specify


Landlord Improvements and Signing Incentives

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Landlord Improvements?Landlord improvements are extra work done to the Property by the Landlord that enhances the Property usually before the Tenant moves in. It can include something simple like putting on a new coat of paint to complex renovations of the Property.What are signing incentives?Signing incentives are bonuses the Landlord gives to the Tenant, typically for signing a fixed term Lease. They may include free month's rent, or a rent decrease for the initial months of the fixed term tenancy. If the Tenant breaches the Lease, these incentives may have to be paid back to the Landlord.You should be specific as to what is to be done, the quality of materials and workmanship as well as when it needs to be completed.

Tenant Improvements

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Tenant Improvements?Tenant improvements are extra work done to the Property by the Tenant that enhances the Property. It can include something simple like putting on a new coat of paint to complex renovations of the Property.You should be specific as to what is to be done, the quality of materials and workmanship as well as when it needs to be completed.

Address for Service

Landlord Address for Notice

(e.g. 103)


Tenant Address for Notice (After Lease is Over)

(e.g. 103)
Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Address for Notice?The Address for Notice is where the other party can send notices both during and after the lease is over.

During the term of the lease, the Tenant's address for service is at the property address of the leased property. The Tenant needs to provide an address that the Landlord can send notices after the tenancy is over. The Landlord and Tenant can change their address at any time.
How do I know if my city is part of a county?For the majority of US cities, a city is part of a county. However, an independent city is a city that does not belong in a particular county. It may physically be inside a county but the independent city would not fall under the legal jurisdication of the county. An example is Baltimore, Maryland.

Environmental Disclosures


Frequently Asked Questions

What are the requirements regarding lead?Except where the Property was built after 1978 or in certain other limited circumstances, Federal Law (Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, 42 U.S.C. 4852d ) requires that the Landlord provide the Tenant the pamphlet Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home (EPA - 747-K-99-001) or an equivalent pamphlet that has been approved for use in your state by the Environmental Protection Agency. It also requires the Landlord to disclose certain information regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards that might exist in the leased Property.The Landlord's agent has an obligation to have informed the Landlord of its obligations under 42 U.S.C. 4852(d) regarding lead-based paint hazards and to ensure compliance with those requirements.What are the requirements regarding asbestos?As the United States hasn't banned all asbestos use, tenants don't have a right to an asbestos-free home. However, tenants have the right to know whether asbestos is present. As almost all states recognize an "implied warranty of habitability", Landlords must properly contain all asbestos risks so tenants are provided with a reasonably safe home.

Under regulations issued by the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in 1981, landlords must disclose whether asbestos is present. This information should be provided in the lease.

OSHA's standards presume that buildings constructed before 1981 have asbestos-containing materials. As a result, building owners are responsible for locating where asbestos is located and how much is present. Landlords must check and follow standards for monitoring levels and containing asbestos. Landlords must also handle asbestos properly during repairs and renovations.
Why does it matter what year the Property was built?If the house was built before 1979, then the Landlord needs to do a lead-based paint disclosure.

If the house was built before 1981, then the Landlord needs to do an asbestos disclosure.

Dispute Resolution

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between mediation and arbitration?Mediation involves a neutral third party that attempts to facilitate a compromise between the Landlord and the Tenant. The mediator will not decide an issue nor will the result be binding upon the parties.

Arbitration involves a neutral third party that attempts to decide an issue between the Landlord and the Tenant. The result will be binding on the parties.

Additional Clauses

Drafting Tips

How should I refer to people and terms in the clause?Do not use several names or words to refer to the same person or thing as it could cause confusion and ambiguity by seemingly introducing new or different people or items.

Certain words were capitalized and defined already in this lease. For example, the renter is called the "Tenant", and the rental property is called the "Property". Use the same predefined terms in your additional clauses.

Do not use pronouns such as: they, us, we, our, you, or me. Pronouns may be ambiguous and can cause confusion. (e.g. The Tenant shall keep the patio free of lawn furniture, instead of He must keep the patio free of lawn furniture.)
How do I draft the clause in plain English?Plain English means language that is simple and conveys ideas with the greatest possible clarity and avoids using legalese.

Legalistic StylePlain English
at the present time now
due to the fact that because; since
during such time aswhile
for the duration ofduring
inasmuch asbecause; since
in the event thatif
notwithstanding the fact that although; even if
prior to before
pursuant to under; in accordance with
subsequent toafter
that certaina
with reference toabout

Miscellaneous tipsDo not abbreviate words.

Use numerals, not words, to denote amounts.

Try not to repeat or contradict what has already been stated in the residential lease agreement.

Only put one paragraph per additional clause.

Miscellaneous





Frequently Asked Questions

What is an inspection report?An inspection report is a written record of any existing damage as observed during a walkthrough of the Property by the Tenant and Landlord. The Landlord and Tenant should both get a copy of this report. Prior to moving into the property, the Tenant and the Landlord should complete an inspection report.

In some jurisdictions, an inspection report is also required upon moving out as a condition for the Landlord to make a claim against the Tenant's security deposit.

Our site has an Inspection Report document in our Document Center. You can access it after you finish completing your Residential Lease.
What is a re-rent charge?A re-rent charge, also referred to as a re-rent levy or early termination charge, is a charge to compensate the Landlord for a Tenant terminating a fixed term lease early. Typically, it's only used when the term of the lease is at least six months.

Some jurisdictions do not permit a landlord to charge a re-rent charge. In any case, the amount of a re-rent charge must be reasonable given your particular circumstances. This means the charge must be closely tied to the estimated damages that the Landlord will suffer if the Tenant leaves early.
Difference between an assignment and a sublease?Assignments and subleases both occur when the tenant gives his/her rights under the Lease to a third party.

Assignment is a total transfer of those rights while a sublease is transferring only a part of those rights (such as a shorter length of time or only part of the property).
Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 provides that a landlord can recover possession for holiday letting when:

  • the tenancy is a fixed term tenancy for 8 months or less; and
  • the landlord gives notice to the tenant that the tenancy may be recovered on this ground; and
  • at some time during the last 12 months the property was occupied as a holiday letting.
Schedule 5 of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988 provides that a landlord can recover possession for holiday letting when:

  • the tenancy is a fixed term tenancy for 8 months or less; and
  • the landlord gives notice to the tenant that the tenancy may be recovered on this ground; and
  • at some time during the last 12 months the property was occupied as a holiday letting.
Schedule 2 of the Housing Act 1988 provides that a landlord can recover possession for student letting when:

  • the tenancy is a fixed term tenancy for 12 months or less; and
  • the landlord gives notice to the tenant that the tenancy may be recovered on this ground; and
  • at some time during the last 12 months the property was occupied as a student letting.

Option to Purchase

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an option to purchase?An option to purchase refers to a Lease which allows the tenant to buy the property at an agreed price during the tenancy. Usually the tenant pays the landlord a non-refundable option deposit and in exchange the tenant has the exclusive right to buy the property from the landlord.

The tenant is given only a certain amount of time to exercise the option. If the Tenant takes advantage of the option, the Tenant's option deposit will go towards the purchase price of the property.

If the Tenant does not take advantage of the option, the Landlord will get to keep the deposit and neither party will have any rights or claims against each other concerning the option.
What are the advantages of having a lease with an option to purchase?From the tenant's perspective, the advantage to a "Rent to Buy" Lease is that they don't have to pay the purchase price up front. If the Tenant cannot qualify for a loan, then they have the option of purchasing the property at a later date when their finances are more secure. In addition, the purchase price may be fixed, so the tenant does not have to worry if the real estate market fluctuates.

From the Landlord's perspective, the advantages to this type of lease are that they can sell the property in a slow market and can charge a higher rent than they could using a regular lease. Also, if the buyer does not exercise the option, they get to keep the option deposit. Lastly, because the tenant has a vested interest in the property, they tend take better care of it than they would if they were just ordinary tenants.
An Option Fee is a fee/deposit the Tenant pays the Landlord at the beginning of the term to have a right to purchase the Property at a certain price during a certain time period. If the Tenant proceeds with the purchase, the option fee is applied to the purchase price. If the Tenant does not exercise its option, then the Landlord may keep this deposit.

This is the maximum period the parties have to close the purchase after the option has been exercised. This time period should be at least 30 days as the disclosure documents are usually provided within 15 days of exercise and the Tenant usually has 15 days to review those documents.

Signing Details

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