Where Do I Get a Good Rental Lease Agreement?

8 Replies

Hi! I'll be renting out my place for the first time in a few months and I'm wondering where I can get an excellent Rental Lease Agreement that I can easily customize for my local jurisdiction (or have it customized). It doesn't have to be free, but I'm hoping there's a not too expensive resource out there and alternative to having a real estate attorney do it. Thanks for any tips!

I use the standard PA residential lease that realtors have access to. Then I took the lease that comes for free from Brandon Turner's book on managing rental properties and modified that into a rules addendum. Then I added the required disclosures for Philadelphia. 

MrlLandlord.com sell some. BiggerPockets.com may start selling something soon also. At the end of the day, there is no one perfect form, so you want to review a few and combine them as needed, and show it to an attorney to make sure that everything is legal. 

Im a lawyer, so maybe I'm biased, but dont do it yourself. 

I have a very strong lease that I give clients for about 300 dollars, which includes tweaking it for thier individual situations. It is updated yearly or as the law develops. And as I hear other lawyers' war stories about landlord tenant lawsuits, I strengthen it even more. Never had a client come back yet with a situation that wasnt protected against in the lease. You dont get that with some lease you download from google or the lease from office depot. 

Trust me, go hire a lawyer and get it done right. 

Pay for a lawyer to do it once. You'll have it forever. You can add items to it as you progress in your career and get it reviewed once a year. The cost is significantly less than the alternative of having a bad lease agreement!

Ok, I admit that I am cheap......

Do you have a friend in Seattle that rents from a large, professionally managed apartment complex or from a large SFH rental provider? (Should be the same city as your rental property since Seattle has more restrictive laws than King County.) If so, get a copy of his lease and use that as your template. These large providers have attorneys on staff to review their leases, to make sure everything legal and protects the LL's interests.

Retype the lease in your computer, add your contact info into the header, and buy your friend a beer.  Be sure to tweak the lease where needed, so for example, your tenant is responsible for establishing utilities with Seattle City Light, etc.  

Assuming your rental is in seattle or western WA, rental housing association (rhawa.org) includes in their membership unlimited use of leases tailored for your area and type of property (in seattle/outside of, and SFR or apartment). They review and update their documents regularly. I used them from day 1 up until I switched over to using a professional property manager.

+1 on comments about not doing it yourself.   If you do that it will be nothing but trouble if you ever have a conflict with a tenant.   If you don't think spending the money to get the legal agreement right is a good investment,   you aren't looking at the big picture.

Landlord tenant laws vary by state.  In MN the MN Bar association puts out a free lease, I would check your state for something similar or call a real estate attorney in your state and see if he can sell you a form.