A Simple 1-Page Lease Agreement is a legally binding 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 their basic contractual obligations of the tenancy.
Why Use a Simple 1-Page Lease Agreement?
There are many reasons to use a Simple 1-Page Lease Agreement. While a standard residential lease agreement may cover every possible aspect of renting a property it may not be necessary. Clauses dealing with pets, subletting, and common areas may be too much when all you really need is those items essential to the agreement.
Benefits of a 1-Page Lease Agreement
Benefits of using a 1-Page Lease Agreement include:
- Attracting a Hesitant Tenant. A standard lease agreement can be long with several complex clauses included. If you find yourself with a qualified yet hesitant tenant, a 1-Page Lease Agreement may be a more approachable option.
- Easier to Read and Understand. Having everything on one page means that a tenant will not struggle to read through and understand any long complicated clauses. If the tenant does have any questions, a landlord should have no problem providing clarification on these essential items.
- More Efficient. A 1-Page Lease Agreement forces both parties to prioritize the important items of the lease agreement. Instead of getting dragged down in multiple drafts of a long and complicated lease agreement, the parties can narrow their focus on the essential items.
Drawbacks of a 1-Page Lease Agreement
There are also some potential drawbacks. Those include:
- Missing Important Rules. With one page there is only so much space. You may not have room to discuss relevant rules such as pet rules or subletting. Not having this information included in the lease agreement could become a major issue down the road.
- Security Deposit Details. One page does not give you enough space to discuss, in detail, how the security deposit can be used and how it will be returned to the tenant.
- Damages. One page is not long enough to go into detail about damages, how they are determined and who is responsible.
- Handling Illegal Behavior. A single page will likely not address a landlord’s rights when things go bad, such as handling a tenant involved in illegal activity.
Remember, since you are using a shorter lease agreement, it is important that you do a thorough job screening your tenants. The last thing you want is a tenant causing problems and then claiming that their behavior was not in violation of any terms in the agreement.
What to Include in a Simple Lease Agreement
In order to make a simple lease agreement that fits on one page you can only include the most essential information. While a 1-Page Lease Agreement keeps things simple, make sure you still tailor it to your situation and any state law requirements.
Essential Lease Terms and Conditions
All leases should include the following information:
- Lease Terms. Specifically, whether it is a fixed lease or a month-to-month lease, and the start and end date for the lease term.
- Payments. Include all payments you will be requiring from the tenant.
- Signatures. Without signatures from both the landlord and tenants, the agreement will have no legal effect.
Specific Items to Include in a Simple Lease Agreement
Additionally, the following specifics are important to include as well:
- Date. The date the lease agreement goes into effect and is being signed.
- Parties. This will include the landlord and all tenants that will be bound by the lease agreement. It is also recommended that you include the address for the landlord so that the tenants know where to send their rent payment and any other correspondence.
- Premises. The full property address of the leased rental unit should be included at the beginning of the lease agreement. If there is a unit number make sure you include that as well.
- Lease Term. The agreement should indicate whether this is a fixed-term lease or a month-to-month lease. If a fixed-term lease, it should include the start and end date of the lease. If a month-to-month lease, it should include when the lease starts and the required notice for ending the lease. Many states require a certain amount of notice for terminating a month-to-month lease.
- Rent.Include the amount due each month, the date it’s due and the method tenants can use to pay their rent (e.g., check, online transfer, etc.). You can also include a request for the last month’s rent. This is often done to protect landlords from tenants that leave mid-tenancy or without notice.
- Late Rent. You should also include any details on what will occur for late rent payments. Just be aware of your state’s laws as it applies to the amount of late fee you can charge and whether or not there is a required grace period. Click here for more information on handling issues with past due rent.
- 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. Include the amount required for the security deposit (usually equal to one month’s rent) as well as what items can be deducted from the security deposit. Click here for specific information on your state’s security deposit laws.
- Condition. It is a good idea to make sure you have a short clause that requires the tenant to acknowledge that they received the property in good condition.
- Right of Entry. There will likely come a time when a landlord will need to enter a tenant’s rental unit. Make sure you have a clause that highlights the notice you will provide tenants as well as the reasons you are allowed to enter the premises. Similar to late fees, the right of entry is subject to specific state laws.
- Utilities. Landlords should list the utilities that they will provide and inform the tenant that they are responsible for paying all other utilities.
- Other Terms. In this section, you can include any other essential terms you want in your agreement. If you are using our template or a form that contains a similar section, to avoid ambiguity, write “None” if there are no additional terms to the lease agreement.
- Signatures. Signatures are required from the Landlord as well as all tenants that are part of the lease agreement. These signatures are what make the agreement officially binding.
Final Items to Consider
Besides the specific content above, here are some tips to help write an effective lease agreement:
- Attach Certain Additional Items. If your property was built before 1978, federal law requires you to provide prospective tenants a Lead-Based Paint Disclosure. Also, you should provide the tenant with a Move In Checklist, which will be explained in more detail below. Your state or local laws may require additional attachments as well.
- Addendum. It may be that you have additional information you want to include outside the agreement but you do not want to use a longer traditional lease agreement. You can include an addendum with whatever additional information is important to your particular lease agreement. If you do choose to add an addendum, make sure you reference it in the agreement (possibly under the “Other Terms” section) and have separate signature lines on the addendum as well.
- Keep a Signed Copy. Both the landlord and tenant should keep a signed copy of the agreement.
What to Do After Signing a Lease Agreement
Send a Tenant Welcome Letter
After signing the lease agreement, you will want to send your tenant a Tenant Welcome Letter. A Tenant Welcome Letter is a letter to formally welcome a new tenant before their lease begins.
A Tenant Welcome Letter provides information to help the tenant make a smooth transition to their new home. Typically this will include resources, contact information, a reminder of important rules and responsibilities, and a Move In Checklist for the initial inspection.
Send a Move-In Inspection Checklist
In addition to sending a Tenant Welcome Letter, you will also want to schedule a time to conduct a Move In Inspection with your tenant.
Using a Tenant Move In Checklist, this inspection should document the condition of the property before a tenant moves in. This inspection will also ensure that the property is in good condition for the tenant and that the tenant has a clear understanding of the landlord’s expectations for the property when moving out.