a lease or rental agreement sets out the rules landlords and tenants agree to follow in their rental relationship. every adult who lives in the rental unit, including both members of a married or unmarried couple, should be named as tenants and sign the lease or rental agreement. your agreement should clearly specify that the rental unit is the residence of only the tenants who have signed the lease and their minor children. your choice will depend on how long you want the tenant to stay and how much flexibility you want in your arrangement.
your lease or rental agreement should specify the amount of rent, when it is due (typically, the first of the month) and how it’s to be paid, such as by mail to your office. to avoid confusion and legal hassles, your lease or rental agreement should be clear on: –how you may use the deposit (for example, for damage repair) and how the tenant may not use it (such as applying it to last month’s rent) it’s also a good idea (and legally required in a few states and cities) to include details on where the security deposit is being held and whether interest on the security deposit will be paid to the tenant. to avoid tenant claims of illegal entry or violation of privacy rights, your lease or rental agreement should clarify your legal right of access to the property–for example, to make repairs–and state how much advance notice you will provide the tenant before entering. if you do not allow pets, be sure your lease or rental agreement is clear on the subject. any other legal restrictions, such as limits on the type of business a tenant may run from home, should also be spelled out in the lease or rental agreement.
the tenant is committed to paying rent for the term of the lease and may only end the tenancy before the close of the lease term if the landlord agrees to an early termination of the lease. regardless of the tenancy type, the tenant has a right to occupy the apartment and the landlord may only enter under certain circumstances. the landlord must make sure that the tenant is given a legible copy of the lease or rental agreement.
if the landlord decides to keep all or a part of the security deposit for damages, then the landlord must give the tenant a written description of the damage and an estimate of the repair cost within 30 days of the tenant moving out. in the event that the landlord still fails to fix the problem, a tenant may be able to withhold a portion of the rent or move out, even if there is a lease or rental agreement in place. depending on the reason for eviction, a landlord must provide the tenant either a 14-day or 30-day notice to quit. if the landlord and the tenant agree, they may take advantage of services offered through the attorney general’s office to resolve a dispute that might otherwise result in an eviction.
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