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Lease Agreement Forms

Question: I just downloaded and reviewed one of your free lease agreement forms this morning. It was the rental lease agreement form dealing with a single family house rental scenario. In your residential lease agreement form, there was very detailed language dealing with late fees and how they would be determined. Up to this point my lease agreements forms did not have this detail. And I am now reconsidering adding this language to my future residential lease agreement forms. Do you have any other ingredients in your lease rental agreement forms that would be a key ingredient for inclusion in my leases? John, Philly, PA.

Answer: I have continued to revise my rental lease agreement forms over the years, John, to include ever so much more detail, especially in the area of late payments and the fees associated with them. I just inked a commercial lease agreement form for a small office space in Cincinnati, and it included an extremely detailed table dictating a chain of events to occur in the event of late payments. All parties are very clear, up front as to what will happen, when it will happen, and what the associated costs and repercussions are when it happens! As you probably saw on the lease that you downloaded this morning from this site, the key is being able to document the tardiness of the payment. I use the time tested postmark date stamp as living proof of when the rent check was "delivered" to the landlord.

On a standard lease agreement form, such as the one you are dealing with for a single family rental, a clause such as this is sufficient: "Any rent received postmarked after the 1st calendar day of the month must be accompanied with a $50.00 late fee." However, if you were in a situation where you had an option agreement and were using lease purchase agreement forms, vs. straight rental forms, then you would probably want language that dealt with the final purchase's escrowed monies. Some commercial lease agreement forms go so far as to dictate fees in percentage language, such as this wording: "If all or any portion of any monthly payments due under this Lease Agreement is not received by the Lessor by the close of business on the fifth (5th) day of the calendar month, in which such payment is due, a late rent charge in the amount of ten percent (10%) of the total of both the base monthly payment and additional monthly rent payments, shall be due and payable on said date by Lessee to Lessor in addition to the unpaid monthly payments." Notice that even if the tenant had paid a portion of the rent to the owner, late fees still accrue on the balance, plus additional monthly rent payments. Fees start adding up quickly if the tenant gets behind on rent! And with good reason - it takes a good amount of time on the part of the landlord to deal with and collect back rent, fees and stay on top of a delinquent tenant.

Another key ingredient in my leases is the language dealing with renewals and ending of the lease. Most leasing agreement forms also include key language that deals with the renewal terms of the lease after the initial term is ended. Apartment lease agreement forms, for example, usually start with a one year term, followed by a month to month term when ended. As with home lease agreement forms, this allows the initially agreed upon terms to continue at 30 day increments until either party makes a change. Here is how one reads: "If the Resident remains in possession of the lease property after expiration of the original terms of this agreement, such possession shall be as a month to month tenant under the same terms and conditions of this agreement, except that Owner may increase the amount of the monthly rent to be paid or change terms upon thirty (30) days prior written notice to Resident. The month to month tenancy may be terminated by either party on the last day of any month, upon thirty (30) days prior written notice."

Make sure your rent lease agreement forms include at least the above, John. You will not be sorry!

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