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How to write a simple apartment lease agreement.

A solid lease agreement lays the groundwork for a successful tenancy. Get the scoop on how to make a thorough lease agreement, and take the headache out of all that paperwork.

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What is an apartment lease agreement?

An apartment lease agreement is a contract between a landlord and tenant, or lessor and lessee, that spells out the terms and conditions of the tenancy. While a lease contract can be synonymous with a rental agreement or rental contract, the term lease is typically used for a longer, fixed-term occupancy, while rental often denotes a shorter time period or month-to-month arrangement.

Before you welcome new tenants to an apartment, you need to draw up a standard lease agreement and get both parties’ signatures. You and the tenants sign to acknowledge the terms of the lease and promise to abide by the tenant laws outlined in the agreement.

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When and why you need an apartment lease.

Not only does a residential lease agreement keep everyone on the same page, it’s also a binding, legal document that is enforceable by law. This type of contract is a form of protection should any issues arise down the road, so it’s crucial to include all necessary components and be as thorough as possible when creating yours.

You should use an apartment lease only for residential properties. Commercial or retail real estate requires a commercial lease agreement.

Similarly, a house rental agreement might have many parallels to an apartment rental agreement, but different property types warrant their own unique contracts. For example, a house lease needs a section on lawn maintenance and other household repairs, while apartment maintenance is more likely to be handled by property managers or the building’s property management company.

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What to include in your apartment lease agreement.

Before you send your contract out for signature, seek legal advice on the language to use so you can verify the validity of your agreement. Here’s a list of common fields that should be covered in your lease agreement:

Basic information about all tenants.

Include the full name and contact information of each tenant. If your tenants have a cosigner or guarantor, you need their information as well.

Description of rental property.

List the location of the apartment as well as all common areas, parking spaces, or facilities that come with the unit.

Security deposit.

Include a section that details the security deposit amount as well as when and how it will be returned to the tenants. This payment helps protect your property from damage outside of normal wear and tear.

Monthly rent amount.

In addition to the cost of the apartment per month, be sure to include the due date of each month’s rent payment and all acceptable methods of payment.

A landlord and two potential tenants looking at a kitchen of an apartment


Go over which utilities the tenants are responsible for paying and which utilities are covered by the rent.

Lease term.

List the start date and end date of the lease. Here you can also explain the tenants’ options at the end of the lease: whether they can renew or if the agreement will default to month-to-month. Many landlords require a certain number of days’ notice before moving out. If this is the case, make sure to mention the requirements for the written notice.


Smoking, pets, parking, illegal activity, renters’ insurance requirements, and subletting are all examples of common rules to go over in this section. Will you require a pet deposit? Will you allow tenants to sublet a room or the entire space for a short term? What happens if these rules are broken?

Late fees.

If the tenant pays late rent, will there be a fee charged and in what amount? Similarly, if the tenant fails to uphold the terms of the agreement, spell out the consequences, whether it’s a small fee or grounds for eviction.


Check the federal law as well as your local and state laws to make sure you share all legally required information with your prospective tenants, from fire codes to lead paint disclosures.

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Control the leasing process from start to finish with Adobe.

Whether you need to create a rental application or duplicate a rental lease agreement template, you can streamline all your leasing documents by going paperless. E-documents save you money and precious time in transit, and with Adobe Acrobat Pro, you can collect e-signatures from anywhere on any device.

When it’s time to renew the lease, there’s no need to draft and print a new one. Simply resend the agreement to your renters in one click. Then track its progress from any device.

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