How to Write a Lease

Three Parts:Sample FormsCovering the BasicsMaking Your Lease Airtight

Are you renting your property for the first time? Signing a lease agreement with your tenant will help ensure that the process goes smoothly, and give you legal recourse if it doesn't. A lease should be written in clear, straightforward language and include payment terms, rules the tenant must follow, and details on what will happen if either party breaks the agreement. You can start with a standard lease and alter it to fit your individual needs and adhere to the laws in your jurisdiction. Read on to learn more about how to write a lease.

Sample Forms

Sample Lease

Sample Sublease Agreement

Sample Length of Lease Addendum

Part 1
Covering the Basics

  1. Image titled Write a Lease Step 1
    Title the lease. At the top of the paper, write "Residential Lease" or another appropriate title to make it clear that this is a legal contract.
  2. Image titled Write a Lease Step 2
    Identify all parties to the lease agreement. Clearly list the landlord's name and address and the tenant's name and address, making it clear who is the lessee and who is the lessor. Include additional contact information such as telephone numbers and email addresses if you wish.
  3. Image titled Write a Lease Step 3
    Describe the asset that is covered by the rental agreement. If you're writing a residential lease, write out the complete address and apartment number of the rental property.[1] Describe the property's condition at the time of the rental agreement.[2]
  4. Image titled Write a Lease Step 4
    State the length of the lease agreement. This should have starting and ending dates as well as the specific length of time in days, weeks or months that the agreement lasts. If there is any scheduled interruption in the continuity of the usage, or if there is an option for early lease termination, this should be specified.
    • Most leases last three months, six months, or a year.
    • You also have the option of issuing a monthly or weekly lease agreement.[3]
  5. Image titled Write a Lease Step 5
    Account for all funds associated with the lease agreement. For a housing agreement, payment information should include the rent amount and stipulations regarding how it should be paid.
    • Write what day of the month the rent is due, and where it should be sent.
    • Specify the whether a late fee will be charged after a certain amount of time and the amount. For example, you could write, "If the tenant pays more than ten days after the due date, the tenant will be charged a $60.00 late fee."
    • Describe the terms of the deposit. State the amount of the deposit and the terms under which it will be returned. Note that the deposit won't be returned unless the property is in good condition at the end of the lease. State how many days after the lease is completed the deposit will be returned.
  6. Image titled Write a Lease Step 6
    Assign responsibilities. State who is in charge of paying utilities (gas, water, and electricity), taking care of trash and recycling, maintaining the outdoor areas on the property, and any other responsibilities specific to the rental property.[4]
    • Check into local laws to find out how to parse out the responsibilities. In some cases the landlord is legally obligated to pay for gas and water, while in other areas the tenant may take care of these expenses.
    • Outline who is responsible for making repairs, keeping appliances in working order, and so on. Again, you should check into local laws to determine what your role should be. In most cases the landlord is responsible for keeping the living space safe and functional.
    • State that the tenant is responsible for informing the landlord about problems with the rental property, including safety concerns, lost keys, and so on.[5]
  7. Image titled Write a Lease Step 7
    Outline the specific obligations of the tenant under the lease agreement. This should typically state that the tenant is responsible for adhering to all applicable laws, that the tenant agrees to only utilize the property in manners for which it is intended, and that the tenant is responsible for any tickets or fines received for failing to do so.
    • State that the rental is to be used for residential purposes only.
    • Write out what the tenant should do if something on the property gets damaged.
    • Specify whether the tenant is allowed to make changes to the rental. For example, if the tenant wants to paint the walls, install a cable modem, and so on, you should state in the lease whether these changes are allowed.
    • Decide whether pets are allowed and specify the rules regarding them in the lease. You might require an additional, nonrefundable pet deposit for each animal based on animal weight. You might state that pets will be allowed indoors or must stay outdoors. You might specify actions that you will take if the pets are not treated humanely. Carefully consider all aspects of allowing pets on your property.
    • Determine whether the tenant is allowed to sublet the unit, and outline the process for doing so.
  8. Image titled Write a Lease Step 8
    Specify the consequences for defaulting on payments or violating the terms of the lease agreement. This should detail the action which will be taken by the landlord in the event that the tenant fails to make the agreed upon payments or is found to be violating other assigned responsibilities. Detail the remedies available to you as the landlord, including eviction, repossession and/or court action.
  9. Image titled Write a Lease Step 9
    Include spaces for both parties to sign and date the agreement. Both the landlord and tenant must sign the agreement in order for the contract to take effect.

Part 2
Making Your Lease Airtight

  1. Image titled Write a Lease Step 10
    Follow your state's laws. Laws pertaining to landlord and tenant rights vary from state to state. It is very important that you understand the laws in your jurisdiction when you write up a lease. If you end up writing something that enforceable, your lease might become worthless to you. You can start with a standard lease agreement, but make sure it contains the correct provisions.[6]
  2. Image titled Write a Lease Step 11
    Have the lease reviewed by an attorney. Get legal advice for two reasons: to make sure your lease adheres to local laws, and to make sure it will give you adequate protection should any problems arise. Find an attorney who has plenty of experience drawing up and approving rental agreements and other contracts. He or she will know the correct language to use and the right provisions to include to make sure your lease is legally airtight.
  3. Image titled Write a Lease Step 12
    Make sure the language is clear. A lease should not be difficult for either party to understand. Don't use too much legalese. Write in clear, concise sentences. Do your best to make sure no confusion will arise as a result of an unclear lease.
    • Check the spelling and grammar. A lease with poor grammar, bad punctuation, and misspelled words can be confusing to read.
    • Use special formatting to highlight important information. You can bold the rent amount and deposit amount, and underline important dates.


  • Always check your local laws prior to executing the lease. When you write a lease agreement, it is important to ensure that your lease agreement does not violate local contract laws.
  • Always have a legal professional review your lease agreement to verify enforceability in the event of default.

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