When renting a single-level apartment or condominium, also known as a “flat,” even a verbal agreement is legally binding, but it’s always best practice to draft a contract that both landlord and tenant will sign. You don’t have to be an attorney or know any legalese -- just make sure you provide all the pertinent details and terms in your lease agreement. In the event that your tenant fails to pay rent or breaks other terms, this legally binding paperwork can empower you to get possession of your property back through a municipal housing court process.
Familiarize yourself with your local tenant and landlord laws with your community’s local housing court or rent control board. They may provide a boilerplate lease, and if applicable, prohibited conditions or language.
Establish a rental term with your tenant. If you want more flexibility in the contract, a month-to-month agreement allows you to terminate or change terms every 30 days. A fixed-term contract of six to 12 months is ideal for owners who want a longer commitment.
Identify the “landlord” and "tenant" by full name as printed on official identification, such as a driver’s license or birth certificate. In the event that the flat owner is a business or corporation, use the business name instead.
Write in the flat’s address, specifying the building and suite numbers, if applicable. Elaborate if the tenant’s flat rental includes use of items or spaces beyond the interior such as furniture, storage areas, fitness equipment, recreation areas and parking spaces.
Indicate any applicable guest policy or limitations you have for additional occupants or sub-leasing.
Specify the rental amount and terms of payment. Note the rental value in numeric and longhand along with the final due date, acceptable forms of payment and payee. If you have a late fee or bounced check policy, clarify it in this section.
Spell out which utilities are necessary for the flat, noting which are the responsibility of the landlord and which ones the tenant must pay.
Record any security deposit monies collected, along with details about how they will be discounted and returned at the end of the contract if the flat is not returned in good condition with “normal wear and tear.”
Give details about what maintenance tasks are the tenant’s responsibility, such as snow removal, trash removal and lawn care.
- “Student's Guide to the Law of Contract”; Deeksha Bhana, Elsje Bonthuys and Minette Nortje
- "Leases & Rental Agreements"; Marcia Stewart, Ralph Warner and Janet Portman
- Your local tenant and landlord laws may mandate late fee amounts and how deposit monies must be charged and returned.
Tricia Chaves began her writing career after working in advertising and promotions for entertainment publisher "The New Times." In 2005, she earned her real-estate salesperson license from the state of Ohio and certification for leasing and property management from the Northeast Ohio Apartment Association. She was certified as a life and weight-loss coach and master practitioner of neuro-linguistic programming in 2011.