Having appropriate landlord contracts is essential to reducing possible problems that could arise from litigation between landlord and tenant in housing court. It doesn't matter if you need a residential landlord and tenant contract or a lease form for a commercial real estate, it must be compliant with the landlord-tenant laws of your state. The agreement must be written well and in a form that takes into consideration all the possible scenarios and circumstances that could arise in the lease-tenant relationship. 

What Are Some of the Basics Landlord Contracts Cover? 

Lease agreements can be generic, but ultimately the contract applies to the real estate or housing that the landlord contracts mention. However, there are some terms you will almost always see in these types of agreements. Some of the most common areas covered by landlord contracts are: 

  • Obligations
  • Security deposits
  • Terms of lease renewal
  • Action to be taken if rent is not paid on time
  • Rules about having pets. 
  • How repairs get made
  • Responsibilities of either the tenant or the landlord for utility payments property taxes and other expenses

Most lease agreements will require that there be a 30-day or less notice of eviction for failure to pay rent. You will find this written in some way in all landlord contracts, making clear that prior notice is given before removal. 

Lease agreements can also include:

  • Occupant policies
  • Property leases and rental agreements
  • Any addendum to a signed contract, such as storage, rent to own, parking space, or purchase option

It would serve the tenant and landlord well if there were forms each party could fill out to inform the other of problems, to facilitate a friendly relationship with adequate communication. For example, the tenant can be provided with a form to complete if there is a need for repairs or other problems. Some of the documents used throughout the duration of a lease could include:

  • Complaint forms
  • Tenant notices
  • Lease renewals
  • Landlord notices to tenants of intent to enter
  • Assignment of leases and subleases
  • Notice to cure or remedy nonpayment of rent
  • Late or default in rent notices

Other Times a Landlord May Provide Documentation to a Tenant

Not all states require this but, in some places, the law makes it mandatory that landlords send out a notice to tenants that details all, if any, deductions to be made from the security deposit. With the notification, either the entire deposit is returned or a detailed listed must be provided explaining any funds kept for past due rent or other any other charges incurred that are causing the reduction in the amount given back.

In some states, deposits get held in interest-bearing accounts and landlords must return interest to their tenant for the security deposit when the lease is over.

A landlord must first provide delinquent tenants or a tenant who violates the lease terms with a notice to quit or an eviction notice before filing a claim with the housing court. Only after a period of time has expired following the landlord's notice to vacate, which the area landlord and tenant act regulates, can an unlawful detainer get filed by the landlord and forcible entry be made to take back possession of the premises.

A landlord-tenant case is no different from any other prosecutor-defendant case. Therefore, if a situation goes to housing court, there are documents with a legal sway to defend the proceedings of an eviction

The Importance of Landlord Contracts and Other Documents

For rental properties to run efficiently and to remain amicable with your tenants, having the necessary legal paperwork in order is crucial. Many cases make it to housing court and end up being a battle of one's word against the other because no written agreements were in place. 

The landlords who are familiar with their legal responsibilities, what procedures to follow, and how to make use of their resources and landlord tools are the most successful in maintaining their rental properties. Both the tenant and landlord should know their rights and obligations. This can save a significant amount of time and money by avoiding disputes.

If you need help with landlord contracts, you can post your legal need in UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.