Importance of Written Rental Agreements for both Landlords and Tenants

February 3rd, 2015

By Mike Pavlakis, Allison MacKenzie, Ltd.

The relationship between landlord and tenant is an important one, and should be documented by a written rental agreement signed by both of the parties.

The rental agreement should identify the premises (the apartment, unit, house, or other property) which is the subject of the rental agreement, and it should include at least the following:

  1. The commencement date that the rental agreement begins; the date that the tenant can take occupancy of the premises, and the date the rental agreement ends;
  2. The amount of the monthly rent; the date the rent is due, and the place it is to be paid; typically, rents are paid in advance;
  3. The amount of any late charge if the rent is not paid when due;
  4. The amount of any security deposit; when it is to be paid, and whether the security deposit is refundable at the end of the term of the rental agreement, with or without interest;
  5. The utilities and services, if any, provided by the landlord, and the utilities for which the tenant is responsible; in residential tenancies, the landlord typically provides water and sewer service and perhaps trash removal and the tenant is responsible for electricity, heat, phone, internet service;
  6. The names of the tenants who will occupy the unit and who are responsible for the rent; and if any pets are allowed, the number and type of pet;
  7. The name, address, and contact information of the landlord in case of emergencies;
  8. The responsibility for the payment of taxes and insurance;
  9. The process for renewal of the rental agreement.

In addition, it is important for the parties to conduct a “walk through” of the unit prior to the tenant taking occupancy.  Any deficiencies, such as carpet burns, holes in walls, broken windows, window coverings, scratched fixtures and appliances, and any work to be done by the landlord should be noted.  Ideally, photographs of the condition of the unit will be taken.  These should be dated and if necessary compared to the results of a “walk through” inspection of the unit upon termination of the rental agreement.

Standard forms of rental agreements are available in office supply stores and online.  If you need help in preparing or reviewing your rental agreement, please call one of our attorneys.  A well documented landlord tenant relationship will help insure a mutually satisfactory relationship and help avoid problems upon termination of the term of the agreement.

If you have any questions or are interested in speaking with me about written rental agreements, please feel free to E-mail me at