A simple one-page lease agreement is a rental contract between a landlord (lessor) and a tenant (lessee). It contains only the most necessary terms, such as the lease length and rent owed, to ensure both parties understand the tenancy’s basic rights and responsibilities.
Why Use a Simple One-Page Lease Agreement?
A one-page lease agreement is perfect for a rental agreement that needs only basic requirements. While a standard residential lease agreement provides more specifics and details of renting a property, it may not be necessary. Terms relating to pets, common areas, parking, and dispute resolution may be too much if the landlord and tenant are looking only for the simple essentials of a rental agreement.
Benefits of a One-Page Lease Agreement
Benefits of using a one-page lease agreement include:
- Easier To Read and Understand. A standard lease agreement can be long and complex even for a lawyer to understand in detail. A one-page lease agreement may be a more approachable option for a qualified tenant who is hesitant about accidentally agreeing to unfavorable terms.
- More Efficient. A simpler agreement forces both parties to prioritize the important items of the lease. Instead of getting dragged down in multiple drafts of a long and complicated lease agreement, the parties can narrow their focus on the essential parts of the tenancy.
- Easier To Resolve Disputes. A one-page lease agreement makes it easier for a landlord and tenant to resolve potential disputes. Shorter, clearer terms make rights and duties more obvious, easier to remember, and quicker for a judge or arbitrator to interpret.
Drawbacks of a One-Page Lease Agreement
A one-page lease agreement also comes with some potential drawbacks, including:
- Missing Important Rules. A single page only provides so much space. Omitting important issues like pets or subleases can potentially lead to major conflict later on.
- Security Deposit Details. One page usually doesn’t provide enough space to detail the use and return of a security deposit.
- Damages. One page typically is not long enough to go into detail about determining monetary damages.
With a shorter lease agreement, it is crucial to properly screen tenants. When a tenant might have the legal leeway to cause issues and then claim no violation of the lease, having a good-faith relationship is indispensable.
What To Include in a Simple Lease Agreement
A simple lease agreement that fits on one page must include only the most essential information. While a one-page lease agreement keeps things simple, it must still fit the rental situation and any state law requirements.
Necessary Lease Terms and Conditions
All leases should include the following information:
- Parties. Everyone responsible for keeping the lease should be listed along with contact information for both the landlord and the tenant.
- Lease Terms. Specifically, whether it is a fixed lease or a month-to-month lease, and the start and end date.
- Payments. A landlord can’t charge a fee that’s not included in the lease. This applies not only to rent, but also security deposits and late fees. In particular, it’s important to clearly state the amount of rent, when it’s due, and any restrictions on payment methods.
- Signatures. A lease does not become a formal legal instrument until it’s signed by everyone who agrees to the terms it contains.
Other Specific Items To Include in a Simple Lease Agreement
Additionally, the following specifics are important to include as well, as far as there is space on the page:
- Date. The date the lease agreement goes into effect and date of signature (if different).
- Premises. The full address of the rental unit should appear at the beginning of the lease agreement. If the lease provides any furnishings to the tenant, this can also go in the description of the premises.
- Late Rent. Late fees generally aren’t enforceable unless included in the lease. Note that most states regulate late fees and grace periods.
- Security Deposit. A security deposit is a reimbursable deposit used to protect the landlord in case a tenant violates the lease or causes damage beyond normal wear and tear to the property. Many states regulate security deposit amounts and deductions.
- Condition. Landlords can reduce potential liability if the tenant affirms the rental property got delivered in good and acceptable condition.
- Right of Entry. Similar to late fees, the landlord’s right of entry is subject to specific state laws, but many states let the lease set terms for access. A right of entry clause covers valid purposes for entry, method and amount of advance notice, and consequences for abuse of access rights by either party.
- Utilities. It’s important to list all utilities provided on the property, along with who’s responsible to cover payments for each.
- Pets. By default, pets are allowed on rental property without additional charges if a lease is silent about them. Tenants must agree to any permission requirements, restrictions on breed, pet rent, etc. in the lease.
- Parking. If tenants are provided with (or limited to) a specific parking area, this must appear in the lease along with any associated fees or rules.
- Prohibited Uses and Activities. Landlords frequently have an interest in reasonably limiting the use of a rental property. This might include bans or regulations for things like smoking (including legalized recreational marijuana), manufacturing or using flammable objects like fireworks, or using the premises to host a business. If the landlord has a tenant rulebook or code of conduct, these standards can be separate from the lease and this clause can simply state that the tenant has received a copy of the rules, reviewed them, and agrees to them. Which uses a landlord can prohibit vary by jurisdiction; check local laws.
- Other Terms. This section is for any other terms essential to the specific rental agreement. If there are no additional terms, it’s customary to write “None” in the appropriate section, to avoid ambiguity.
Besides specifying terms in the rental agreement, some final considerations may apply:
- Attaching Certain Additional Items. Property built before 1978 requires a Lead-Based Paint Disclosure by federal law. Most leases also attach a Move-In Checklist. State or local laws may require additional attachments as well.
- Addendum. Sometimes there’s additional information to include even without a traditional lease agreement. An addendum can cover this. Note that an addendum may not be legally binding unless mentioned in the rental agreement (often in the “Other Terms” section) and additionally signed by all parties.
- Signed Copies. While not a legal requirement, having the landlord and tenant both keep signed copies of all agreements is a customary way to avoid miscommunication and prove all parties freely reviewed and agreed to all terms.
Considerations After Signing a Lease Agreement
Tenant Welcome Letter
Many landlords send new tenants a Tenant Welcome Letter after executing the rental agreement. A tenant welcome letter formally welcomes a new tenant before the lease begins.
A welcome letter provides information to help the tenant make a smooth transition into their new home. This may include local resources, contact information, a reminder of important rules and responsibilities, and a move-in checklist for the initial inspection.
Tenant Move-In Checklist
Many jurisdictions require taking an inventory of the property and its condition upon moving in to protect the tenant’s right to repairs and return of security deposits. Even where this isn’t a legal requirement, it’s good business practice to schedule a move-in inspection with the tenant present. A tenant move-in checklist is essential to this goal.
A move-in inspection ensures that the property is in habitable condition for the tenant. It also gives the tenant a clear understanding of the landlord’s expectations for the property when moving out.