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The 5 Basics You Must Include in a Lease

The Beginning Blocks for Your Rental Lease

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While the exact terms of a lease will differ based on many factors, such as location of the rental property, there are certain basic clauses all landlords should include in their leases. These provisions answer the questions who, where, when, what and how.

1. Parties- 'Who' the Agreement is Between

Every lease agreement must clearly spell out who the lease is between. In the case of a lease for rental property, this agreement is between the landlord, and/or the landlord’s agent, and the tenant.

Here is an example of how to identify the parties of a lease:

“This Lease is BETWEEN the Tenant(s)
Insert Tenant(s) Name

whose address is
Insert Full Address of the Rental You Are Leasing to Your New Tenant(s)

referred to as the “Tenant,”

AND the Landlord
Insert Landlord's Name

whose address is
Insert Landlord's Full Mailing Address

referred to as the “Landlord.”

The word “Tenant” means each Tenant named above.”

2. Identification of Property- 'Where' the Property is Located

You will want to include the name of your property, if you have a name for it, such as "Sunset Estates," or "Ocean Villas." You will also include the full mailing address of the property: house number, street name, town, state and postal code. Make sure to reference the exact apartment the tenant is renting.

Here is an example of how to identify the property:

"The landlord agrees to rent to the tenant and the tenant agrees to lease from the landlord, Apartment #1 with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom, located at 123 Sunny Lane, Sunnyside, MI 12345. This rental unit will be referred to in this lease as the 'Apartment.'"

3. Lease Term- 'When' the Contract Is Valid

You will want to include the exact date: day, month and year, the lease begins and the exact date: day, month and year, the lease ends. Even though the lease may be for six months or for a year, do not write “this lease is for six months” or “this lease is for one year.” It can be confusing and contradictory if the lease term isn’t an exact year.

For example:

A tenant signs a lease on January 3. If you write, "This lease term is for one year. The lease begins on January 3, 2012 and ends on December 31, 2012," you are contradicting yourself since it is not an exact year.

You should either leave out the “this lease term is for one year,” entirely, or change it to “this lease term is for approximately one year.”

4. Amount of Rent Due- 'What' the Tenant Has to Pay

It is essential to include the full amount of rent due over the period of the entire lease and then break it down by the amount due per month. You should include the dollar amount of rent the tenant must pay each month and the date on which this rent is due.

Here is an example of a rent clause in a lease:
"The Tenant agrees to pay $12,000 as rent, to be paid as follows: $1,000 per month, due on the 1st day of each month. Payment of the first month’s rent and any security deposit is due upon the signing of this Lease by the Tenant. The Tenant must pay a late charge of $ 50.00 as additional rent for each payment that is more than five (5) days late."
See Also: 5 Tips for Setting the Right Rent

5. Acknowledgement- 'How' the Contract Becomes Binding

If the lease is not signed and dated, it is worthless. The signatures acknowledge that the landlord and the tenant agree to abide by the terms of the lease. The landlord, or the landlord’s agent, such as a property manager, must sign and date the lease. The tenants must also sign and date the lease. Make sure to have all tenants over the age of 18 sign and date the lease. These tenants should all be named in the “parties” clause of the lease.

Here is an example of a lease acknowledgement:

By signing this Lease agreement, the Tenant acknowledges that they have read, understood and agree to comply with all rules, terms and conditions in this Lease.


Print Name of Landlord..........Landlord’s Signature...........Date..........

Print Name of Tenant.............Tenant’s Signature..............Date..........

Print Name of Tenant.............Tenant’s Signature..............Date..........

You must keep a signed copy of the lease for your records and must provide the Tenant with a signed copy of the lease as well.


Disclaimer: The information provided on this website, and any outside information linked to, is for guidance only. It is not legal advice. Please consult legal counsel for advice specific to your situation.
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