Do I even need a written lease?
Although it might seem like a hassle to create a written lease agreement, having one is critical to protecting your rental property. Generally, any agreement that is for longer than one year has to be in writing. A lease provides a list of legal obligations for both the landlord and tenant and spells out a number of important other details. It provides the foundation for the rental relationship.
What is the difference between a lease and a rental agreement?
A lease refers to a set term, often a year; whereas a rental agreement generally renews at the end of the period unless either the landlord or tenant ends it with proper notice.
What are the most important clauses to include in a lease?
Real estate leases are essentially made up of clauses that address specific subjects regarding the rental relationship. Each state has its own rules for what clauses or elements to include in a lease agreement. Some of the most common clauses required in a lease agreement in every state include:
- Basic information – including the names of all the tenants; address and description of the rental property; name, address and contact information for the landlord or property management company; lease start date; and length of the rental term.
- Rental information – including the rental amount; when rent is due; where and how to pay rent; security deposit information; and late fee.
- Limitations – including how the property can be used; the number of people allowed to live there; the landlord's obligations; the tenant's obligations; subletting; and alterations.
While these clauses cover the basics, it is important to that the lease include more provisions to cover potential issues regarding your particular property. Depending on where the property is located, you may also have to include clauses required by your local government.
Generally, a deed is required to change ownership to real estate. Some examples include:
- add or remove someone from the title,
- transfer the property from one person to another,
- change the title of your property from your name to the name of your living trust, or
- transfer property to or from a business entity.
Will my property be reassessed when I change the title?
Possibly. A title change can trigger a tax reassessment. However, in many states, certain transfers do not result in reassessment, such as transfers to or from a revocable trust or between family members, such as transfers between spouses or between parents and children.
Can I use LegalZoom to transfer title when I'm selling the property?
No. There are special rules for property sales which must be followed depending on the county in which the property is located. If you are selling property, we recommend contacting an attorney, escrow company or title company to process the sale.