Landlord & Tenant Legal Forms
Documents used by landlords and tenants when renting and leasing any residential or commericial property.
Landlord & Tenant FAQ
What are the legal issues surrounding the landlord-tenant relationship?
The landlord-tenant relationship is one that, well-protected by established laws and a grounding of legal contracts, can produce a win-win situation for all parties involved. Tenants always need to find good landlords and landlords always need to find good tenants. The truth, of course, is that neither landlords nor tenants are always 100% committed to meeting all of their legal responsibilities.
Thatís why the majority of legal issues surrounding the landlord-tenant relationship tend to focus on the honoring of contracts. Residential leases, for example, make up the bulk of the legal grounding for this relationship; failure to honor the lease agreement on either end can result in serious legal action being taken. Additionally, both tenants and landlords have to work to ensure that they meet all state regulatory burdens in their relationship with one another.
What legal issues do landlords need to worry about?
While the tenantís focus is mainly on honoring the residential lease agreement, a landlordís problems can be more complicated. In addition to honoring local ordinances and regulations, most landlords and property managers have to deal with a surprising amount of paperwork to ensure that all of the work they do is effectively tracked and that all contracts they sign (with contractors as well as tenants) are properly honored.
Collecting rent payments through lawful means can be a source of worry for many tenants, especially as they have their own expenses and bottom line to worry about. Additionally, landlords need to make sure they follow protocol when evicting poorly-behaving tenants, such as by keeping track of notices to vacate and honoring the residential agreement.
What legal issues do tenants need to worry about?
Most tenants need to focus on two things in regards to the property they are renting: honoring the residential lease agreement and honoring the local laws. Interactions with ďbadĒ landlords, of course, can force many well-meaning tenants to find legal recourse to their complaints. For this reason, tenants should be just as vigilant in maintaining their agreement records and in filing formal complaints the right way.
An additional concern for tenants could be the subletting of their apartment wherein the tenant then becomes a landlord of sorts. Juggling paperwork between oneís own landlord and oneís tenant can be difficult, which is why even tenants should be aware of all legal forms involved.
What are some common legal forms governing the tenant/landlord relationship?
There are a number of forms that could be used as examples to answer this question. Letís consider some of the most commonly-used forms:
- Residential Lease Agreement: Essentially the life-blood of the relationship, this contact between the two parties will form the basis for any future legal action between the two. It will explain the responsibilities each party is expected to live up to (including maintenance of the property and on-time rent payment).
- Lease Termination Agreement: On the other end of the spectrum is the lease termination agreement in which a lease is mutually agreed to come to an end by both the tenant and the landlord, usually by one partyís specific request. Having an agreement that corresponds well to the original residential lease agreement will be important in maintaining legal consistency.
- Notices: Common notices like Notice to Vacate and Notice of Intention to Enter come from the landlord and serve to alert the tenant about upcoming action that pertains to their residential lease agreement. Ensuring that these notices are properly filled out and do a good job of alerting the resident is important.
Of course, there are more contracts that govern the landlord and tenant relationship, but these are three of the most common examples and categories of contracts.
Iím thinking of becoming a landlord. What forms do I need?
In reality, you need a combination of forms, including the forms listed above and other forms you may not have thought of, including documents like the Move In / Move Out Checklist or the Notice of Return of Security Deposit. As youíll be using these forms over and over in your career as a landlord, itís important that you have these forms handy whenever the situation calls for them. There is very little a landlord should not be able to handle outside of these forms Ė and using them consistently will be a good way to not only demonstrate that you are serious about being a landlord, but that you have a foundational understanding of legal groundwork.
How important is it to document everything?
Very important, no matter whether youíre a tenant or a landlord. For example, if youíre a tenant and you have a complaint to make, you should keep track of it so that you know when the complaint was first filed against the landlord and when it was finally addressed. Youíll also want to keep track of any violation of your residential lease agreement so that you can properly contest these violations and ensure your landlord will honor the agreement.
From the property managerís point of view, documentation is similarly important. Not only will you be better able to control your property properly if you can use the residential lease agreement to demonstrate reasoning behind actions such as eviction, but youíll be able to diffuse most problems before theyíre allowed to fester.
I have to terminate the lease of my tenant. How do I do it?
Assuming that a tenant violated part of a residential lease agreement that warrants lease termination, you can use a lease termination form that suits your needs. Itís important that you track these violations in order to provide the appropriate amount of legal backing to your decision, but ultimately, once youíre fully grounded legally, youíll be able to better control your property.
My landlord is stringent about the lease agreement. How do I find flexibility?
If both you and your landlord have honored the lease agreement, thereís actually very little recourse if you want an exception to be made. It will depend on your individual relationship with the landlord, but itís better to be safe and follow the rules.