Back to Blog

A Landlord’s Guide to Rental Lease Agreements

lease agreement residential landlord tips residential lease agreement download online Feb 09, 2023
Image by Freepik
(image by Freepik)

A rental lease agreement is a written contract between a landlord and tenant explaining both parties’ rights and responsibilities. However, not all rental lease agreements are standard and law-compliant. As landlords, you should know what clauses to include and exclude before signing any rental lease. 

Read on to understand what factors go into creating a lease that covers all the necessary rules and regulations of the property.

Terms and Clauses in The Lease

Below are some of the most important rental lease clauses to consider when using a residential lease agreement.

Resident Names

Having the names of all tenants is essential for a rental lease agreement and includes all adults living in the rental unit, making each tenant legally responsible for all terms agreed upon in the lease.

Occupancy Limits

This rental lease clause clearly states that each rental unit is the residence of the individuals agreed to on the lease and their minor children. This gives the tenant grounds to evict any persons who move in with a relative or friend without your permission.

Lease Term

This states if the rental agreement is a fixed-term lease. Leases typically last a year, while some are month-to-month lease agreements. You can view different rental agreement samples in LandlordingHelp’s form directory (Please sign up first to access; It's free).

Security Deposits and Other Fees

The rental lease agreement should clearly state financial information such as the rent amount, security deposit, and various tenant fees.

A security deposit is money paid in advance, usually equal to the monthly rent amount, which is taken from the tenant before moving into the rental unit in case of damage or non-payment. It’s legally required in some states to include details of where the deposit is being held and whether interest on the deposit will be paid back to the tenant.

Property Maintenance

A portion of the residential lease agreement should include a tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and repair. This includes the tenant keeping the premises sanitary and clean and paying for any damages caused by his or her neglect.

The tenant should be required to contact the landlord in case of dangerous conditions with specific details on the cause of the problem and repair requests. It’s also recommended to include any repair limitations if needed when installing built-in electronics such as dishwashers or painting the walls without permission.

Some landlords do not allow pets in their rental units. These particular restrictions should be clearly stated in the tenant’s lease agreement.

Tenant and Landlord Rights and Responsibilities

Evictions and Lease Buyouts

As a landlord, sometimes it’s necessary to evict unruly or damaging tenants. This communication is typically between the landlord and the tenant. Depending on the state laws and jurisdiction, a landlord must win an eviction lawsuit before legal actions can occur.

A lease “buyout” is another situation that a landlord may need to deal with when leasing to tenants. This type of situation involves the tenant paying the landlord a set sum of money to end his or her lease before the rental lease agreement is over.

This can occur for several reasons, such as when the tenant cannot make the monthly payments or the need to relocate. If the landlord agrees to the payment, they can accept the lease buyout.

Tenant Rights

Each tenant is covered under the Tenant Bill of Rights, which claims each tenant has the right to a series of factors when renting any property from a landlord.

The tenant has the right to:

  • Have the landlord perform agreements that impose a legal obligation to either one or both parties.
  • Possession of the rental premises, starting at the beginning of the lease term.
  • Quiet enjoyment without interference from the landlord.
  • Rent a habitable leased unit to ensure that the rental meets all housing codes.
  • Not to be evicted by the landlord for practicing any of the above-given rights.

The landlord must also follow strict discrimination laws. This means that the landlord may not refuse housing to any individuals because of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or other personal factors.

Breaking The Lease

Rental lease agreements cannot always be fulfilled, and some tenants may need to end their leases early. You may be able to break your lease legally if the reasoning also means that the landlord broke the rules by failing to uphold safe and sanitary conditions.

Depending on the lease length, the tenant may be able to make a deal with the landlord that results in little or no penalties to each side involved.

To Conclude

A good Residential Lease Agreement must outline basic information about the tenancy plus the rights and duties of each party during the rental period, including the rental period, security deposit provisions, maintenance responsibilities, lease termination terms, and occupancy limits, to name a few.

In this article, we mentioned a few Illinois lease clauses to consider as landlords. If you want to learn about the lease clauses in Chicago, Cook County, and other regions, sign up in our library and access courses on this matter. You’ll also find downloadable free rental agreements online (only available for registered members of to use for your rentals.

Don't miss a beat!

New moves, motivation, and classes delivered to your inbox. 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.