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Landlord Tenant Forms

All types of landlord and tenant forms for Commercial or Residential use, including lease applications, lease termination forms and more.  Download in Word format.  Professionally drafted forms for your State. Get the same forms lawyers use.

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How Can You Be Most Successful as a Landlord?

Introduction

Knowing the obligations of landlords and how to best comply with them can save you a great deal of time and money spent dealing with tenant problems. During all stages of the rental property transaction, a landlord must comply with applicable landlord tenant law, such as the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, and ensure the federal Fair Housing Act and state and local laws governing landlord tenant rights and responsibilities are followed. Rental property management deals with laws covering everything from initial tenant screening and tenant application, creating the lease or rental agreement, to eviction for failure to pay rent. Successful landlords know what the legal responsibilities of the landlord are, how to follow proper procedures, and use the correct landlord tools to do so. Some of the important issues and what you need to know about them are outlined below.

Before You Sign the Lease

There are federal, state, and local laws covering fair housing and discrimination issues. Laws vary by local area, for example, some states prevent discriminating against a person based on income or source of income. Therefore, a landlord would not be able to deny an applicant based solely on the fact a potential tenant receives SSI or Section 8.

A tenant background check is commonly run to conduct tenant screening for credit history or criminal record, and a consent to background check form should be signed by the applicant. The rental application should be free from questions that may appear discriminatory. USLegalforms offers tenant forms that have been professionally drafted to comply with applicable landlord-tenant law.

At this stage, some suggested forms include:

  • Tenant background check consent documents
  • Tenant application forms
  • Reference letters and tenant consent to reference check
  • Statements of responsibilities of landlords and tenants rights and obligations
  • Occupancy rules

Creating a Lease Agreement

Having the proper lease form is an important tool to minimize potential problems and possible litigation in housing court. Whether you need a residential landlord and tenant lease agreement or commercial real estate lease, it must not only comply with the landlord tenant laws of your state, but be properly drafted to deal with all the potential issues involved in a comprehensive manner. Some of the most common terms included cover landlord and tenant obligations toward any required security deposit, lease renewal at the expiration of lease, and the required notices and what will happen if tenant are behind in rent. State laws typically require that a 30 day notice or shorter period be provided to the tenant before eviction for non-payment of rent.

Other terms may be included as you wish, such as how repairs are to be made, rules regarding pets, and responsibilities of the landlord or tenant for payment of utilities, property taxes, and any other expenses. The landlord tenant forms offered by USLegalforms are professionally drafted by attorneys and able to be modified in Word to suit your needs. A lease addendum can also be used to add additional terms to existing lease agreements.

At this stage, some common landlord-tenant agreements include:

  • Leases and rental agreements
  • Receipt for security deposits
  • Any addendum to the lease, such as rent to own, purchase option, parking space, or storage
  • Policies for occupants

During the Lease

To ensure amicable landlord-tenant relations, landlords should make available forms to allow the tenant to notify the landlord if there is a problem, such as something needing repair. USLegalforms offers many landlord-tenant notices covering common landlord-tenant situations.

At this stage, some useful documents include:

  • Tenant repair request forms
  • Tenant notices and complaint forms
  • Notice to tenant of default in rent/late notices
  • Notice to cure non-payment of rent
  • Lease renewals and addendums
  • Notice to tenant of landlord's intent to enter
  • Assignment of lease and subleases

Terminating Rental Agreements

Lease Expiration

Upon expiration of the lease, state law may require the landlord to send a notice to tenant stating the deductions from security deposit, if any, that were made, and either return the balance of the deposit or list the amounts deducted for overdue rent and other charges. Some areas require a landlord to hold the deposit in an interest-bearing account and return interest on the security deposit to the tenant at the end of the lease. USLegalforms offers forms for making the required accountings on the security deposit and receipts that comply with local statutes.

Eviction

What is required to evict a tenant? In a residential landlord-tenant lease, when a tenant is behind on rent or has violated the lease agreement, it is necessary to send a notice to quit (eviction notice) before eviction proceedings can be brought. When a tenant violates the lease, before you can file a complaint in housing court to evict a tenant, local landlord-tenant law requires that a notice to vacate be given to the tenant, according to the local landlord and tenant act. The written notification must be given a certain number of days ahead, as specified by local law, before a forcible entry and unlawful detainer complaint may be filed to take back possession of the property and evict the tenant.

If the situation goes to housing court, USLegalforms offers documents that can be used to defend against an eviction proceeding. After evicting a tenant, it may also be necessary for a landlord to serve notice before the landlord can legally dispose of or sell any abandoned property left behind by the tenant.

At this stage, some necessary documents may include:

  • Notice to quit / notice to vacate
  • Unlawful detainer and forcible entry complaint
  • Notice to reclaim tenant's abandoned property

Conclusion

In order to run your rental properties effectively and maintain friendly relations with your tenants, you need to have the proper legal documents in place. Too often, landlord-tenant disputes arise because there was no written agreement and the parties wind up in housing court, becoming a matter of one person's word against the other's. USLegalforms offers updated landlord and tenant packages and individual forms to cover all residential and commercial rental property needs. Our forms are state-specific and regularly updated by attorneys to comply with state landlord tenant statutes.

How to Terminate a Lease Early or Defend Against Eviction

When you know your tenant rights and the legal obligations of landlords and tenants, having the proper legal forms to best comply with them can save you a great deal of time and money spent dealing with landlord disputes. Whether you want to break a lease and move out early or defend against an eviction, you must follow the procedures of applicable landlord tenant law, such as the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, and give proper written notice to notify the landlord.

When A Tenant Can Break a Lease - How to Escape Housing Hell

Residential landlord-tenant law and the rental agreement will define when responsibilities of landlord are breached and when the tenant can file a complaint for breach of renter's rights or give the landlord a termination letter and legally move out. Obligations of landlords include complying with the fair housing act and renter rights as defined in each state's residential landlord and tenant law. If the required notice to the landlord in order for a tenant to terminate a lease isn't specified in rental agreements, then the state residential landlord-tenant law will govern the notice to landlord and whether a 30 day notice or other number of days notice is required to break the lease. US Legal Forms offers state-specific landlord tenant forms that allow a tenant to legally terminate a lease when the landlord has violated the lease or rental agreement, as well as defend against an eviction when served with a notice to vacate or unlawful detainer notice.

The local landlord and tenant act mainly covers residential leases, rather than commercial lease agreements. Tenants of commercial real estate will be governed by the terms of the lease or rental agreement and contract law principles.

In residential rental property, the property management responsibilities of the landlord include maintaining the rental unit and common area in a habitable condition. If there are problems with plumbing, failure to provide essential heat, or other services are in such a state of needing repair that the property isn't livable, the landlord can be found to have violated the lease agreement and a notice of intent to terminate the lease may sent as long as the landlord has been notified of the need for repairs and hasn't made an attempt at repair within a reasonable period of time. If the stairs are broken, there's a leak in the roof, or other problems needing repair, the tenant must give the required notice to the landlord and allow a reasonable amount of time for the landlord to fix the problem or make the repair. Only after proper notice to the landlord and allowing an attempt to repair can a tenant serve a notice to terminate the lease. The repair needed must involve a matter affecting health or safety to justify breaking a lease.

Security Deposits - How to Get Yours Back

If a tenant has violated the lease, such as by being behind in rent, or causes property damage beyond reasonable wear and tear to the rental property, the landlord may deduct such losses from the security deposit. Landlord tenant rights to a return of the deposit and any accounting to be made at the expiration of lease may be defined in the rental agreement. When the tenant is month-to-month or there isn't a written lease or rental agreement specifying the obligations of landlords to return the security deposit, state residential landlord and tenant law requires the landlord to return any balance from the security deposit back to the tenant according to specified timetables. In some states, the landlord-tenant act requires the landlord to return interest on the deposit, especially in cases of large deposits on commercial real estate. An itemized statement showing the deductions from the deposit and any balance due or owed is typically required.

Often, the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants under landlord tenant acts allow the tenant to serve a demand for return of the security deposit on the landlord, and fines and penalties may be imposed on the landlord if not complied with by a certain date. Landlord tenant forms offered by US Legal Forms are state-specific, professionally drafted by attorneys to comply with the landlord tenant act in your state, and can be further modified in Word if you desire to customize to your needs.

Defending Against Eviction

If you're facing eviction proceedings, there may be defenses available to avoid eviction. For example, a defense may be raised if the proper 30 day notice or notice to quit wasn't received, or the rent claimed to be overdue was paid. Sometimes a waiver of late rent payments can be asserted if the landlord accepted late rent in the past. Rental agreements and the landlord and tenant act of each state defines the rights and responsibilities of the landlord and tenant and a renter's rights to terminate the lease when the lease has been violated by the landlord.

Landlord tenant rights require the landlord to give the tenant written notice to quit before eviction proceedings can be brought. US Legal Forms has the proper 30-day notice form for your state, as well as other day notice forms and landlord tenant dorms that may be used to provide a defense down the road if a dispute arises. Landlord tenant forms such as a move-in inspection report and inventory, security deposit and other receipts, and much more, are available.

Conclusion

Whether you are trying to break a lease and move out early or have received a notice to quit and are facing eviction proceedings, it's important to follow the proper notice and security deposit procedures. US Legal Forms has all the state-specific landlord tenant forms to meet your needs, which are regularly updated by attorneys to stay current with the latest landlord tenant law.

What Can I Do When a Tenant is Behind on Rent?

Landlords and tenants each have rights and responsibilities, and a failure to pay rent by the tenant is cause to terminate the lease and bring eviction proceedings if necessary. An eviction notice must first be given to the tenant according to the required notice specified in the applicable state's landlord tenant act. The tenant may be held liable for the remainder of the rent owed under the lease or rental agreement, as well as any amounts owed for non-payment of rent. Any damage to the rental property above normal wear and tear may also be claimed. However, responsibilities of landlord include obligations of landlords to make reasonable attempts to advertise and show the rental property to new tenants to lessen the damages amount.

Do I Need to Give a 30 Day Notice Before Evicting a Tenant?

A notice to quit or notice to vacate will either need to be given according to the terms of the lease or rental agreement, or if there is no written lease, then the state residential landlord tenant act will specify the number of days of required notice before eviction proceedings may begin. The landlord tenant forms offered by USLegalforms are state-specific and are updated to comply with current landlord tenant law. The number of days required varies not only by state, but the reason you want to evict a tenant, such as failure to pay rent or if the tenant has violated the lease agreement in other ways.

Does a Landlord Have to Return Interest on the Security Deposit?

The landlord and tenant act in your area will govern whether collecting interest on the security deposit is one of the responsibilities of the landlord. Each state has its own residential landlord and tenant law that provides what landlord tenant rights are regarding interest on security deposits. Unless the statutes say the landlord must collect interest, there are no obligations of landlords to collect and return interest on a security deposit unless otherwise agreed under terms of the lease agreements or rental agreements.

Can the Landlord Deny My Application Because I Collect SSI or Disability?

The answer will depend on which state and town you live in. There are state and local fair housing landlord-tenant laws that specifically prohibit denying a tenant's rental application during tenant screening based solely on source of income. For example, under federal law and MA statutes, it is illegal to discriminate against someone when renting or selling real property because a person belongs in one of the protected classes below:

  • Marital status
  • Veteran status
  • Race
  • Color
  • Ancestry
  • Sex
  • Religious creed
  • National origin
  • Age
  • Children
  • Public assistance
  • Handicap/disability
  • Sexual orientation
  • Public Assistance Beneficiary (disability payments or Section 8)

Unless there is discrimination based on one of these protected classifications, a landlord may choose who to rent to based on other grounds.

What Are the Responsibilities of the Landlord for Property Management?

Generally, the obligations of landlords include abiding by the contract terms of lease agreements, following local and state fair housing and landlord-tenant law regarding tenant notices and eviction procedures, supplying the premises in proper condition, and taking action to prevent any dangers on the rental property premises that the landlord should be aware of. After a rental agreement is signed, a landlord should make form available to file a complaint or notify the landlord of any problems on the rental property. USLegalforms offers many landlord tenant notices that comply with current state landlord tenant law.

How Can I Defend Against an Eviction Action?

How best to defend an eviction will depend on the circumstances in each case, but some of the common defenses include a waiver of late payment after a failure to pay rent on time, failure to receive an eviction notice, or a failure to carry out rights and responsibilities by the landlord that justifies non-payment of rent or termination of the lease or rental agreement. Discrimination or violation of a fair housing act is another defense to eviction sometimes raised.

For example:

  • In the case where there has been a pattern of the rental property landlord accepting a rent payment late after you're behind on rent, it might be claimed that strict adherence to the rent deadline was waived.
  • One of the responsibilities of the landlord is to keep the rental property in habitable condition. If responsibilities of landlord haven't been met, such as failure to make needed repairs, it may be a defense to amounts claimed owed and in some cases, justify non-payment of rent and moving out before the expiration of lease.

Of course, it is always recommended to have receipts, such as cancelled checks, receipts for any security deposit, copies of any communications between landlord and tenant, and pictures, estimates for damage repair, move-in inspection report, etc. Taking pictures of any damage to the rental property upon moving in and having it noted on the move-in inspection form is also a good practice.

What Does it Mean to File a Complaint for Forcible Entry?

Forcible entry and unlawful detainer is a legal term for an eviction proceeding. It is a claim that the real property is being unlawfully occupied and therefore repossession should be given to the landlord through legal means, such as eviction by the sheriff. The complaint is often filed when a tenant violates a rental property lease agreement, such as by non-payment of rent or failure to pay rent, or violates the lease in other ways. A notice to quit, also called a notice to vacate or eviction notice, needs to be given according to the required notice according to state residential landlord-tenant statutes. Some states require a 3 day notice, while others may require a 30 day notice. The landlord tenant forms offered by USLegalforms are state-specific and comply with the residential landlord tenant act in each state. Landlord and tenant forms for commercial real estate are offered as well.