When it comes to signing a lease agreement between landlord and tenant, what is the standard process?
The rental lease agreement is a formal contract between a tenant and a property owner, or a representative of the owner, like a property manager, outlining the terms and conditions for living at a rental property in exchange for rent.
In order for a lease agreement to be valid, both parties must sign the contract. Depending on your state’s laws, if a property manager is representing an owner, the owner may or may not be listed on the lease agreement.
Verbal Lease Agreement
Often times, a verbal lease agreement is considered legal and binding for one year. If the tenant moves in and you accept the rent then you have a binding month to month tenancy. It is always a good idea to have a written rental agreement, even if you are having a relative stay with you for just a few months. Written agreements will serve you well, if the situation goes bad and you need the tenant to move out.
Signing a Written Lease Agreement
Here’s a look at the lease signing process, including who needs to sign the lease, who signs the lease first, who gets a copy of the lease, and who to refer to with questions about the lease.
The Lease Signing Process
Lease signing can take place in person or be completed online before you move into a new unit. If you sign the lease with your landlord or property manager present, they should go over all the important terms with you. Make sure you ask questions and understand these parts of the lease.
If you sign the rental lease online, with the help of electronic signatures, it will be up to you to read through the document and understand everything to which you are you are agreeing. Do NOT treat a rental lease signing like a ‘Terms of Service’ checkbox. Lease agreements are very important legal documents.
For managers and landlords who do not use electronic signatures, they may choose to mail a lease agreement to the tenants if they cannot meet to sign the lease in-person prior to move-in. If you mail a lease agreement, some managers might require the tenant to have the signature notarized. Alternatively, a lease might get emailed or texted to a tenant, the tenant can print out the lease, sign it, and then send it back to the manager or owner.
Who signs the lease?
The lease should be signed by all adults living on the property and by the property manager or landlord. If a co-signer is part of the rental agreement, they need to sign the lease along with the tenant.
Who signs the lease first?
It is a good idea to have the tenants sign the lease agreement first. This is especially important if the lease is getting signed without the owner or manager present.
Why is it so important for a tenant to sign the lease first?
Consider this anecdote from the Washington Post: an owner couple mailed a lease to potential tenants to sign. The owners mailed the lease after signing it themselves but encountered radio silence from the potential renters. Since they had already signed the lease, they were simply waiting for a response from the renters but heard nothing. During this time, they couldn’t just rent out the property to another applicant, because the original renters could show up with the signed original lease. While the couple waited, the property was left unoccupied and collecting zero rental income. If the couple had sent an unsigned copy, they could have rented the property to another party, since a lease would not be valid without the owners signature.
Here’s an overview of a good process for sending a lease agreement to a tenant:
- Owner or manager sends an unsigned lease agreement to an approved rental applicant.
- Applicant reviews the lease agreement, signs the lease, agreeing to the terms, and mails it back to the owner/manager. By returning a signed lease agreement, they are accepting the offer to rent the property.
- The owner/manager receives the signed rental contract and also signs the contract. At this time, when both parties have signed the lease, the contract is considered binding to terms outlined in the agreement.
- Both parties get a copy of the signed lease agreement.
Who gets a copy of the lease?
Everyone who signed the lease agreement should get a copy of the contract. Tenants should keep their copies in a safe place to reference throughout tenancy as needed. Some property managers or landlord may charge the tenant to get an additional copy of the lease.
With the help of good property management software, copies of a rental lease can be stored online and shared with renters to access at any time in a tenant portal.
Managers and landlords should keep excellent copies of signed lease agreements. It is a good idea to copies of lease agreements for past tenants, at least until any statute of limitations expire on the tenancy.
Depending on the management agreement and any local laws, a property manager may or may not give a copy of the lease agreement to a property owner.
If you have questions about lease terms or the lease signing process, you should have your contract reviewed by a licensed attorney familiar with landlord-tenant laws in your state. Every state has different requirements about what can and cannot be included in a legal rental lease.
What is the difference between a rental agreement and a lease?
Find Law gives the following explanation regarding the difference between a rental agreement and a lease:
There is no strict legal difference between a rental agreement and a lease agreement, however in some instances a rental agreement, or a periodic tenancy, may refer to a short-term rental contract. The term can be for any amount of time, but month-to-month tenancies are the most common. Each month the tenancy automatically renews for a new term, unless the landlord or the renter ends the tenancy by giving a 30 day written notice. Changes to the terms of the rental agreement can be made by giving the appropriate written notice.
A lease agreement, also known as a fixed term agreement, allows the tenant to rent the property for a set term. Most lease agreements are for six months or a year. The terms are unalterable during the lease unless the tenant agrees to the changes. Unlike a rental agreement, a lease does not automatically renew upon termination. Instead, a lease becomes a month-to-month tenancy if the landlord allows the tenant to remain in the rental unit and pay rent after the lease ends.
*This article has been updated with current information as of July 2020.
What happens if you have not signed a new lease for three years you still going on to only that you signed it three years ago is it still legal
Great question, Robin. Typically, when a lease expires the tenant moves out. If the relationship continues without a new lease or renewal, the tenant and landlord are then operating on a month-to-month agreement. I would recommend checking the language of the original lease about the terms if residency continues after the expiration. I would also suggest contacting the local housing authority to learn about the month-to-month agreement terms in that state.
If I have not taken ownership of the rental property up under a lease but have sign the lease am I entitle to my security deposit?
Because a lease is a contract, it often has a clause regarding the penalty when the lease is broken. Not taking possession is breaking the contract so they may be entitled to keep the security deposit to cover the cost of an empty unit (missed rental income, advertising, attempting to find a replacement, etc.). If the lease does not indicate the penalty, I recommend contacting your local housing authority for regulations in your state as it varies by location.
Pls what of if you sing a least and the room and washroom is very small and you don’t want to live there are the person not entitled to move after the first and last month rent pls
A lease is a contract so likely there are penalties to breaking that agreement. But that doesn’t mean you have to continue living there. If you wish to move, read your lease agreement to understand the consequences for breaking the lease and the type of notice you need to give the landlord before you move out.
Is there a time frame for you to received you executed lease? I have signed a lease agreement but have not received an executed signed copy for 5 months from moving in.
Thanks for your question, Nita. In many states, a lease is executed as soon as the tenant signs. And because it’s location specific, you can check with your local housing authority to confirm what the regulations are for your area.
Several of the tenants in our apartment complex have not received a copy of our lease, myself included, in over a year from date of signing. Is this a legal practice?
Many states require a copy to be given after signing. As state regulations vary, I would recommend reaching out to your local housing authority to find out the regulations in your area and the criteria for obtaining a copy (verbal vs. written request, etc). Wishing you the best.
Do you know if there’s a law like this for Tennessee? I’m trying to search for it and having a really hard time finding anything. Thank you!!
Hi Anna, each county can have different regulations so you’ll want to reach out to your local housing authority. Here is a list I found of the offices in Tennessee: Tennessee Housing Authorities on the web
and an overview of tenant landlord laws in Tennessee from NOLO.
If l have signed a lease before the Renters new Law coming in at the end of March..am l bonded to the lease or the l am entitled to the new laws in March.
Hi Helen, I’m not sure if you are talking about a new local, county, state, or federal regulation so I would suggest you contact your local housing authority as they will be up-to-date on all those regulations and will be able to help you know if this one you are concerned about applies to all renters or just new renters who sign after the regulation is in effect.
What happens when you lease expires and you get a new lease for two years sign it and your rent check for that month and you send it certified so they can sign it and the check is not deposit and have not sent the lease back,didn’t signed it at the post office how long it takes the return mail.
Hi Migdalia, unless you signed a new lease before the old one expired, you are now on a month-to-month agreement until the new lease is signed by both parties. I highly recommend you contact your landlord as soon as possible to ask why there was a delay in depositing the check and processing the new lease.
If the lease is entered into by the tenant and landlord but only the showing agent of the property management LLC signed is it enforceable? Agent is not a licensed real estate agent but works for LLC.
Hi Marie! Each state has its own regulations on lease signing authority so my recommendation would be to contact your local housing authority. They would know best who may execute a lease in your area.
What if I was offered a lease in a one bedroom apartment and then the landlord says she’s offered it to someone else within a 24 hour time period?
What a great question, Chris!
There are only a few places in the US that acknowledge a verbal lease agreement. In most states, unless you were given a written lease to sign, I believe the verbal offer can be retracted. Oftentimes, if the first approved applicant doesn’t reply in the manner requested within a certain time frame, the landlord moves on to the next approved applicant on the list. Even if one follows proper timing and instruction, prior to signing, there may be circumstances where it can be revoked.
For those few areas in the country that allow verbal lease agreements, I would not be able to say that an offer alone establishes the tenant-landlord relationship.
In either case, if there is any question it is best to contact your local or state housing authority to discuss when that relationship is established in your area.
Hello, My lease state that it can not be altered unless the alteration is agreed by both parties. But the owner of the home i rent changed management companies which was my reason for renting the home. The lease states that the agreement is between the management property( agent) and the tenant. Is this breaking the lease? And would there need to be a new lease signed with the owner of the home and I?
Thank you for that question, Martia. You’ll want to check with your local housing authority for specifics on your area, but generally, a change in management will not break a lease. The management company is simply a service provider acting on behalf of the owner. That same authority (and lease) transfers to the new management company as-is unless they make significant changes to the provisions of the lease. Again, I would recommend finding out if there are caveats or regulations to the contrary in your state.
How many managers can sign your lease? The dates on the lease do they have to be the same?
There isn’t a fixed number as leases can be signed by as many managers and parties needed depending on the state requirements and business needs. Here are a few examples: Some states require two signatures as witness to a manager’s signatures, other situations may require the office manager, property management company, and property owner all to sign. If it’s a management partnership or the home is owned by a partnership there may be multiple signers. Even if the document is sent electronically, it may take time for each party to review the document and sign, so in that, the dates are often different. Thanks for the great question.
On my lease, it doesn’t have a stared date can you tell me if the lease good or not.
Hi Nickey, a lease requires signatures and an end-date but the start date isn’t required to make a lease valid. Your occupancy began when you were given the keys which allowed you access to the home.
If you signed a lease and when signing the lease, you reserved (and paying extra for the reserved spot) a parking spot so that you can park at your apartment. When moving in, the parking was not available and the leasing company isn’t doing anything to provide parking. It has been a month and they keep telling us that they will get to it, but in the meantime, we have no place to park the car so we cannot utilize the apartment. FYI. This is a college town and parking is limited. It is a parking garage and they could shut the door and only allow the residents who reserved spots to park, however they have not closed the garage door and are not towing the cars parked there that have not paid for the spots.
Hi Susan – your situation sounds frustrating. If parking and payment for parking are outlined in the lease, then the terms of the lease are not being upheld. You might want to contact your local housing authority to discuss your options if the landlord is breaking the lease agreement. If the parking spot was separate and not part of the lease, at minimum, I would ask for a refund of the amount paid while not having the benefit of use. I would also read the parking agreement carefully to see if there is wording in your favor that you might use to remind them of the parking agreement. Hope this goes well for you and that you get access to the reserved parking quickly.
I cannot find this in anything I read online. Does a condo association have the right to ask for a copy of a persons lease who is renting the condo in the community in VA?
Hi Pete, I was able to locate the Virginia Condominium Act but not sure if it will answer your question. Section § 55.1-1973 talks about the rental of units. Although it states the unit owner may be required to give the association the renter’s contact information and signed acknowledgment of the rules and regulations – it doesn’t explicitly say it can’t ask the renter for a copy of the lease. This seems to be a gray area and you may want to seek legal advice on this topic from someone familiar with Virginia condominium and rental laws.
Greetings, I signed my lease, mailed it to the landlord, she received it and never signed the lease. I gave her my 1st month and security deposit and now occupy the unit. Do I have a binding lease without her signature, or am I renting month-to-month?
Hi Belin, do you know for certain they have not signed? Sometimes the second party may sign but don’t (or forgot to) send out a signed copy. You may want to reach out to your landlord and ask them for a signed copy for your records. If they have not/will not sign then whether it is binding depends on the regulations in your state. In some cases, the landlord allowing you to move in and accepting your deposit and rent payment would be considered agreement to the lease in a dispute. In other states, the lease isn’t binding until both parties sign. I advise that you contact your local housing authority to ask about your specific local/state regulations.
Hi Heather, great article!
What if I (tenant) signed and sent the lease through email. But before the landlord signs and sends it back to me, I decided that I do not want to rent the apartment? I also haven’t paid the deposit and the move-in date is 2 months from lease agreement date.
Am I legally bound to that apartment with lease? Or am I safe not to move-in.
Each state has different lease signing criteria so reach out to your local housing authority for those details. You’ll also want to review the lease. Check for a clause about what happens if you don’t pay the security deposit or take possession of the apartment. From there, try working with the landlord – you never know, they may have other qualified applicants on a waiting list and would be happy to release you from the lease. Never hurts to ask.
I’ve lived in an apt complex sinnce Sept 7, 2019. In June 2020, the manager had me sign a lease agreement for 2021. A week after signing, my circumstances changed and I need a 2 bedroom unit and would rather move to another location. When did the 2021 Lease Agreement go into effect?
A lease is a legally binding contract as soon as both parties sign. It would be just the same if you were a new tenant and signing a lease prior to move-in. The lease agrees that you will occupy (or will continue to occupy) that rental for the duration of the contract. Having said that, you may want to just be upfront with them and ask if they might be generous and allow you to end the agreement early and without penalty. Either way, read your lease and check with your local housing authority to see what steps you’d need to follow in your state to break the lease agreement and give notice of a move. Wishing you all the best.
How should we enter a start date for a lease that is subject to a condo association approval which can take one to two weeks? Should we use a specific date roughly two weeks in the future or is there a way to make it contingent on the condo association approval date? Also, if I sign a lease, but the condo association does not approve it, is it still a valid, legally binding document on my end? Thanks!
My experience isn’t within the condo community but I’ve never seen a lease that is signed before approval is given in other types of communities. What I do know is that lease regulations vary by state and type. Associations typically spell out those instructions in condo association Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&Rs) and Rules & Regulations and might even offer a preferred lease form. If you are unable to find that in your documentation, I would highly recommend calling up the condo association to ask.
Because I can’t offer legal advice and this is a tad outside my experience, you may also wish to seek legal counsel and call the local housing authority to know if the lease is legally binding if signed before approval and if a contingency clause protects you if you go that route.
if a lessee signs a lease as lessor and the lessor signed as lessee does this void the lease
Great question! No, this doesn’t void the lease. It was a clerical error but the intent was still there.
me and my wife signed a lease with option to purchase my wife filled in the top paragraph so the tenants could have the utilities turned on and we signed it we all was to meet and talk out the lease well the tenant filled it out with out me and my wife present it took over 3 years to get a copy it was filled out what the tenant wanted is this legal and what can we do our home is in dickson county tennessee can you advise what we can do as the landlords
Signing first, before the tenant, puts you in an interesting situation. Typically I would say that the contract is binding because you signed it but that is just an opinion. I can’t offer legal advice and because this is a legal question as well as a real estate purchase transaction, it’s best to have your attorney review and discuss your options.
We signed a lease and subsequently gave the landlord our deposit on 10/9; we met on 10/14 to review loose ends that were to be addressed and taken care of before moving in 10/15.
It was clear several building code violations were not completed, as well as basic cleaning of carpets and home. The landlord became very defensive, called her husband (who is NOT on the lease), then said she wanted to cancel the lease. She asked me for the key and I told her she would get it when I received my money ($2300, which she deposited).
My husband said I was being rude and gave her the key.
She also listed the property, at the same price, literally right after on Zillow.
Our moving pod is there as we had it delivered for move in day that didn’t happen. (They are picking it up)…
What legal stand do I have?
VIRGINIA(Prince William County)
Oh my! That sounds like a frustrating experience. A signed lease is a legal contract and if they have backed out, you have a legal right to get back all the money you gave them. As for any other legal standing, I recommend you contact the local housing authority to review the regulations for that state/county. I can not give legal advice so from there it would be up to you whether to seek legal counsel on the matter. I hope all turns out well for you both.
I found out on Thursday (10/22/2020) that my manager at my apartment complex forged my signature on a lease agreement. My son and I were in the process of moving to a new apartment. We had passed the credit and background check but the new apartment needed the old apartment history faxed to them from the manager. The manager faxed paperwork to the new apartment stating that I had terminated my lease which ends in July 2021. The problem was that my son and I had never signed a lease so how could the lease be terminated. The apartment complex we live in had been renovated in September 2019 by new owners. The last time my son and I signed a lease in the manager’s office was August 2019 before the renovation by the old owners. We never signed a lease with the new owners. So, we weren’t approved for the new apartment because we were told we terminated our lease. The way I found out that the manager had forged our signatures is in September I asked for a lease because we were making plans to move. I assume that she was going to give me the August 2019 lease but she gave me January 2020 to December 2020 lease with our forged signatures on the lease agreement(another forged lease). My son and I gave a Letter of Vacate on October 14th and we have to be of this apartment by November 14th. We don’t have anywhere to go and finding apartments in Louisiana is not easy. I’m so angry and hurt because we are being accused of something we didn’t do(terminated lease) and how dare someone use my son and my signature. We lost a nice place to live too. I need help. The reason for us moving out of our apartment is the neighbors moved in next door and brought roaches with them. The last nine months have been a living nightmare for my son and me. We haven’t used the kitchen in eight months. I moved the kitchen in the living room and cook on hot plates and electric skillets. I wash the dishes in the bathroom sink or tub. This experience has been crazy and that is why I need help so we can move out of this apartment.Please Help!!!
I can’t imagine what you must be going through. May I suggest that you contact the property management company as they will be able to investigate all the documents you’ve signed and compare them to the one you said the manager signed. They would then be able to contact that other apartment complex to clear up the situation (and deal with any issues they have with the manager at your location). If you are not satisfied with how the management company handles your concern, reach out to your local housing authority. And if from there you decide to take legal action, may want to find an attorney versed in real estate law who has access to handwriting experts. Wishing you all the best!
What if you got added to a lease through an addendum, but the landlord never signed it. Is it still valid as a one year term or would it default to a month to month lease?
Adriana, I can’t give legal advice and I don’t know all the details but some items that might invalidate the original term would be lease violations, delay in returning requested documents to properly add a person to the lease, etc.
However, I can say that typically an addendum to add an occupant doesn’t change the terms of the original regardless of the landlord’s signature. They may want to review the original lease and addendum with their local housing authority to see if that state or local area has any exceptions or regulations that differ from the norm.
move in date 12-10-19. Housing Authority accepted my proof of heath hazard, gave move out date 11-30-20. .Apartment wants me to pay prorated 12-1-20 to 12-09-20, December monthly insurance, monthly pet fee, 2 months of utilities water and other things attached to that water bill, but not electric I pay that as my monthly bill, Severity of health have really been less attentive, I asked since they had already typed move in date 12-10-19 moveout date 11-30-20 on the lease do that mean I still pay for December? They said I had to pay but what surprised them was the move out date they put 11-30-20 on my lease. I have had like everyone been dealing with so much that I have dealt with since beginning, praying they would allow me not to pay anything for December since I be gone and paid all November rent. They stated I forged the lease, they sent a lease to me where it was typed as they stated 12-10-19 to 12-9-20. My grandson and I kept looking at their lease so confused. Then we notice the date they gave me the lease was date 11-19-19 and the one they sent was December 11 2019, our initial’s was not ours, our signatures were not ours, the representative that sign my original that signature was not on it and she still is working there. I have searched website have not found anything in my favor, I am disable no money to pay as you can see my dilemma. I am praying but in the natural how can I handle this. They do not know it is known. Thought about calling non emergency police. What can I do for their lies and scam. Thank you all and have a blessed weekend. .
Linda, your situation sounds complicated. If they are stating you forged a lease and you are saying they forged your signature may I suggest you bypass that employee and contact the property management company directly. They will be able to compare all the signed documents and timelines. If you are not satisfied with how the management company handles your concern, reach out to your local housing authority again to ask for assistance. And if from there you decide to take legal action, you may want to find an attorney versed in real estate law who has access to handwriting experts. Wishing you all the best!
How long is a lease amendment valid for if it’s not signed or verbally agreed upon by both parties? So as an example, if an amended lease was dated Oct 1st 2019 could you go over an entire year before agreeing to it and then be bound to it with an effective date of Oct 1st 2019? Or is there something like a 15/30/60 day rule where if it’s not agreed upon within that timeframe then a new amended lease would need to be drafted to update its date/effective date to when it would actually be agreed upon? Hope this makes sense, thanks.
Nathan, If I understand correctly, the amendment hasn’t been signed so nothing is binding as yet, and sounds like there may be room to negotiate dates and terms. I can’t offer legal advice so if you are unable to negotiate and the amendment lacks verbiage for agreed-upon timeframes, I would suggest you talk to your local housing authority and/or a housing legal advisor as those rules and regulations are state/county-specific and can be complex.
My boyfriend and I applied for a rental home but were denied due to him having a old debt to an apartment complex from 2012. I then applied for the rental and was approved but then told that I have to sign a waiver stating that he will not be living with me. What happens if I sign that waiver and he does move in.
To answer your question, if he moves in without approval you’d be breaking the agreement and the terms of your lease. A lease (also known as a rental agreement) is a legally binding contract and a serious matter. You would be vulnerable not only to legal action by the landlord but that could damage your rental reputation which could result in future rental difficulties.
Did he offer proof that he paid that debt in full with the rental application supporting documents? Unlike criminal charges that tend to fall off screening reports typically after 7 years, unpaid debts remain on record until paid.
is a lease valid without the super’s signature
Ernestine, that is a great question! Sometimes it’s just an administrative error so I would recommend you reach out to your landlord and ask them for a signed copy for your records. If they will not sign, then whether it is binding depends on the regulations in your state. In some cases, allowing you to move in and accepting your deposit and rent payment would be considered binding in a dispute. In other states, the lease isn’t binding until all parties sign. I advise that you contact your local housing authority to ask about your specific local/state regulations.
Hi, i have “Residential Tenancy Agreement (Standard Form of Lease)” signed by tenant(me) and Property owner but not notarized its all mutually agreed and signed, is that lease form is still valid to be used for any address proof in Ontario, Canada State?
Hi Bassu, unfortunately, I am not familiar with Canadian regulations regarding proof of address. I would suspect whoever is asking for proof of address will have a list of other approved documentation if they are not accepting your non-notarized lease.
Can i refuse to sign a rent lease electronically and request it be in paper form?
Typically, when you receive an electronic document, it will allow you to print it so there would be no need to ask for a paper copy. Now whether a printed and physically signed document is accepted I believe is at the discretion of the landlord. I would contact your local housing authority to confirm.
I am renewing my lease for another year. There is nothing in the new lease about the 1 month security deposit and last month rent I paid prior to moving in. Is the original lease that lists these items still valid? Will I have any issues at the end of the new lease?
Hi Diana, since this is a renewal and not a brand new lease, it likely only speaks to changes in processes, rent amount and increases, and effective dates, etc. It wouldn’t address the move-out terms such as the deposit and last month’s rent (unless they required additional deposit amounts) since it is covered under the original lease still.
I’ve had a lease for a year in my name only . My son stays with w me part time . It is a two bedroom apartment.The landlord is requiring he be added to the lease extension as an tenant and sign the lease . I want to just list my son as living in the unit w me and not have him sign the lease – is this possible? He is 23 yrs old.
Hi Jodi, because your lease was in your name only, allowing another adult to live with you is a lease violation and it puts you in jeopardy of an eviction. Regardless of the relationship, the landlord is within their rights to require him to sign. The benefit is that it will help him build his rental history.
Hi Heather – ty for the quick response .. one important point I didn’t mention was that he is protected under ADA for mental illness and is currently hospitalized at least for the next week – the landlord doesn’t want to wait and is threatening me with eviction if my son does not sign the lease extension now. My lease expires Jan 15 2021 and my landlord is threatening eviction if condo association won’t renew lease extension without my son’s signature.
Jodi, your situation sounds complex. I know that the ADA protects against discrimination when screening potential tenants and sets the standards for landlords in terms of modified accommodations such as service animals for authorized tenants. But I don’t know if either extends to an unauthorized occupant and something you could consider researching.
I am unable to offer legal advice but can suggest that because he is unable to engage in a rental contract you speak to his caseworker about any options that might be available.
Ok. Ty Heather
What happens if I sign the lease and sub landlord sign the lease and he waits for the deposit, then the actual landlord wants to sign. If I didn’t make the deposit, and landlord didn’t sign the lease will the lease be binded and can i get sued for taking the decision for not moving in and not paying the deposit
Great question, Cole. Your signature is typically all that is required to make the contract enforceable. If you no longer wish to move in, I would suggest having a frank discussion with that property management company/landlord to discuss your concerns as they might allow you to back out.
Hi, I own 50% of a commercial property in NJ, my name isn’t on the lease with my other partner, is the lease still valid? am I legally entitled to collect 50% of the rent and can I add my name to the lease without the other 50% owner approval?
I am not able to offer legal advice but I would propose that it may depend on the type of legal entity that partnership is under (Corp, LLC, etc), the partnership agreement itself, and the wording of the lease. I highly recommend you have legal counsel and an accountant review the lease, partnership agreement, and any other business documentation to understand not only your rights to collect proceeds but also any obligations for expenses and taxes as well.
Thank you Heather Peake for taking the time and helping me.
My pleasure! I just wish there was a more clear cut answer for you but am sure you’ll get good advice from those experts. Happy New Year!
My landlady didn’t give me a copy of my lease for almost a month after move in (despite promising it a within a few days), and when she did there is an additional handwritten note she made ON THE SIGNATURE PAGE!!! Is this legal? We do not have an addendum clause. I feel very uneasy about this addition which I did not agree to. Does this void the lease?
As a previous landlord and property manager, I can say that what you described is not a common practice. I feel uneasy about this as well as the standard is to create an addendum. Not knowing what the note says I’d love to give them the benefit of the doubt as it could have been an internal note and perhaps forgot to save a copy of the original. But… if you feel the hand-written note changes the terms you agreed to, I would recommend you out to your local housing authority (as laws vary by state) to discuss your situation and options.
My daughter has been leasing an apartment in Chico CA. for 2 years always making timely payments. Her lease period begins on August 17th, but the management group sent new lease in January 8 months early asking to be signed ASAP (these are student apartment for CSUC). I explained that I would like to delay signing until possibly July to prevent breaking lease if her life changes due to employment, illness or relocation, none of which are in the future so far as we know. Is there a minimum time allowed that leasee’s are afforded to sign lease with assurance that unit will still be legally available?
Typically, if the current lease states they need to submit a 60-day intent to move before the lease expires I would suggest to finalize the new lease/renewal before June 17th to secure the unit. If a 90 day or 30-day notice to move is required, adjust accordingly. However, each state and local area has different regulations, leases can vary in detail, nuanced by student housing criteria so I would highly recommend reaching out to her local housing authority to discuss prior to working with the student housing office.
I got signed a lease on an apartment and decided to leave early because the landlords girlfriend continuously states she hasn’t received my checks. I have carbon copy on my checkbook so I have copies of the checks, the money hasn’t came out yet. On the lease the landlords girlfriend signed his name.. not hers but his.. does that make the lease void?
Hi Savannah, I believe the lease is valid because it was provided by the landlord which constitutes their intention and you signed it which binds you to that agreement. However, I’m not able to offer legal advice and suggest you contact your local housing authority to discuss your tenant rights for breaking the lease. I’m not sure how the check cashing situation comes into play as the girlfriend may insist you are creating a paper trail without actually sending in the check for processing. One way to eliminate this excuse would be to mail in a payment by certified letter, pay by ACH (e-check) or credit card, or perhaps have your rent check mailed directly from your bank to them.
I live in NYC and I signed a two-year rent stabilized renewal lease, my signature only and mailed it back to the landlord a year ago, I only recently discovered [ when to my surprise I got a renewal lease early] the landlord had changed it to a ONE year before signing it himself. I’ve been under the impression my lease was a two year lease this whole time. Is that legal?
Hi Gabriel, I’d like to think that it may just be a matter of a clerical error — so to confirm, I would let them know your concern and ask for a copy of the originally signed lease before you sign the renewal. Once you have a copy you can compare them and if there is a discrepancy contact your local housing authority to discuss your options.
Thank you very much for sharing this. Quick question, What is the difference between a rental agreement and a LEASE?
Great question! A lease refers to a fixed period of time (multiple months or years) where a rental agreement is typically a month-to-month agreement. It can be confusing because some refer to a month-to-month agreement as a month-to-month lease. In fact, a fixed term lease may have a provision stating it converts to a month-to-month lease agreement automatically if not renewed. You’ll find that the terms are used interchangeably in news or blog articles because of the similarities of purpose. They are both legally binding agreements creating a tenant-landlord relationship and the terms and conditions of that relationship.
I signed a lease after my application was accepted and paid for my first months rent but have not yet moved in (lease does not start for another month). It’s been a week since I’ve signed but have not gotten a signed copy from the landlord. I went through a broker who has repeatedly given me a different excuse about why the landlord has not signed yet. Since I have already paid for a month’s rent, signed my portion but have not yet moved in and still do not have the signature from the landlord am I technically in a contract or could the landlord rent it out a different tenant? I’d like to break this lease if I don’t get a resolution (signed copy), the whole situation feels suspicious to me.
Hi Danny, because each state has different regulations regarding a broker/landlord relationship, I would certainly reach out to your local housing authority to ask about your unique situation. Secondly, you could search your state’s real estate commission or contractor board to confirm the broker is licensed to put your mind at ease.
It is my understanding that if you were dealing with a legitimate broker, they would be operating on behalf of the owner (landlord) and the creation of the lease shows landlord intent — your signing then would bind that agreement regardless of when it is countersigned. But again, each state has its own regulations and working with a broker certainly adds a wrinkle to the situation. I wish you all the best in your research and hope it turns out well.
I usually sign my lease prior to moving in, but I am looking at a place right now that wants me to sign on my move-in date in a month. I will be putting down a deposit and signing a securing execution of rental agreement now. What are your thoughts on this? Thanks in advance!
Great question Ali — it is not uncommon and as a previous landlord and property manager, I have experienced the lease signing process both before and on move-in day. In either case, I always offered a copy of the lease for them to review (clearly marked copy) before lease signing so that we could discuss any questions or negotiations before signing day. So if you haven’t seen a copy you might want to ask for one. You might also want to reach out to your local housing authority who will be able to tell you if there are any state or local regulations that may be unique to your location concerning this process.
My daughter signed a lease. In the lease under “tenants obligations upon vacating the premises” the landlord wrote “Vacating tenant instruction list will be provided separately”. She moved in on April 2nd and received an email from the Landlord on April 5th with the document attached regarding vacating the property. On the document it stated Notification date 2-27-2021 which was not correct. Anyway the document is very intense and we can see now why she did not give her the document to my daughter ahead of time. She is asking for my daughter to sign it and return it within three days. Is this legal to provide the document after my daughter has moved in? Any information you can provide would be helpful.
Cindy, I can’t give legal advice so would suggest she reach out to her local housing authority to ask about those state-specific regulations. For any of our readers coming across this discussion, it’s always best to insist on reviewing all notifications and documents prior to signing any legal agreement.
Hi, If I sent a signed lease to an agent( somebody helped me to find a contract for this house) , to be able rent a house, did not take ownership of the house as she said is not available until a specific date, can she keep me accountable for that contract?
In Los Angeles RSO 4-plex, a new landlord has bought our building and is now asking us to sign a new lease with addendums. I read that they can’t ask you to sign something if it has “significant” changes, or unless it has “similar” terms, or something. I can’t find any info as to what ‘similar’ and significant’ means. Are there any guidelines as such? Like if there were no smoking restrictions and now there are? Or an odd example is a Mold addendum requires using exhaust fans in the bathroom after a shower, but there are no exhaust fans. I think we can be evicted for not signing a new lease, so this is an important question. What do you think?
I signed our lease renewal on may 12, 2021 and on may 20th. I was informed the house is going to sell at the end of our current lease. The end of July so it was no longer renewable. But we had already resigned. She said she never countersigned the lease and deleted it from the online portal. Is there anything legally I can do? In the lease it states if the home sells they have to either buy me out of the lease, give me 60 days notices before the end of the lease witch would have been next may, or sell the house with the lease attached. But because she said it was never countersigned it was canceled. I stupidly didn’t download the new lease. And again it’s deleted. I don’t know if it’s worth trying to fight them.
Thanks for that question, Ashley. It will become very difficult to legally pursue a different outcome without a copy of the signed lease renewal. Without a copy, it appears they gave you proper notice before the current lease expires. However, if there is an email trail demonstrating you signed the document electronically you may have a better chance. Having said that, even in the event proof of a signature is uncovered (depending on your state regulations) it might not be binding unless both parties sign and/or the previous lease expires.
I can’t give legal advice but it’s never a bad idea to contact your local housing authority to discuss your situation. Depending on what they tell you, in the end, it would be your decision if it is in your best interest to attempt to fight this.
My husband co-signed a lease with my son in Alabama on 1/1/19 since he didn’t have a rental history. The lease states that the original term of the lease expired 12/31/19 but automatically renewed on a month-to month basis. My husband clearly stated when he co-signed the lease that he wanted off the lease once the original lease expired and the landlord agreed to sign a new lease with just my son. The landlord is having issues with my son and now is saying that my husband is still on the lease. The manager gave us a copy of a lease addendum my son signed to extend the lease from 2/1/21 to 1/31/22 (not sure what they did for 2019 to 2020 term). Is my husband still on the lease as co-signer if he never signed any addendums extending the lease. If my husband is still legally on the lease, we were under the impression from the original lease that he could give a 30-day notice to terminate the lease since it said that it automatically renewed on a month-to-month basis. The landlord is trying to say we can’t end the lease until 1/31/22.
Hi Rachel, most leases will have a caveat that the lease will auto-renew as a month-to-month agreement so that it isn’t mandatory for the renter to move out immediately. However, by signing an extension (lease renewal), the month-to-month arrangement never gets established.
Although your husband told the office his desire to be removed, unfortunately, a lease typically supersedes any verbal request. Giving the leasing office the benefit of the doubt because it’s difficult to track a verbal request — it may have been best to insist your husbands’ wishes were documented in the original lease (removing an option for month-to-month or a lease extension). Then, before the end of that lease, your son would have needed to meet the criteria to be a sole leasee and sign a new lease or give notice and move.
Because I can’t offer legal advice and each state has different regulations, I would recommend getting in touch with your local housing authority and/or legal counsel to discuss the details of your circumstances and perhaps they can help you find a mutually beneficial solution.
If your lease isn’t up until August can they make you agree to terms in June and give you a time limit of 2weeks to make up your mind or they will change the terms of the lease??
Hi Linda — great question! It’s not unheard of for landlords to offer an incentive of preferred lease terms to help entice signing a lease renewal early. They can’t force you to accept the incentive but know that if you choose not to, your other options are to accept the terms they offer after the incentive deadline or give them notice to vacate.
The process outlined above is incorrect. There are three steps in contract formation. Offer, acceptance, and consideration.
It is stated above that when the tenant signs the lease, they are accepting the offer. Thus, the offer was made when the lease was sent to the tenant. When the tenant pays the upfront money (consideration), the contract becomes binding. The landlords signature is not necessary to complete the contract. Massachusetts, for example, requires the landlord to return the signed copy within 30 days. This is a common mistake and most people do not understand how contract are actually formed. Landlords should be aware of this and be careful.
I am living in a house main floor with 3 other people. There was a lease according to the landlord but he did not gave us to sign it. My one room mate talked to the owner for the house regarding the renting and all stuff. I want to move out of the house but the other mates do not want to move. And the owner is saying I cant do such thing and I am ready to loose my last month. I also told owner 60 days before but he says talk to your mate who asked for renting. Help me please I do not want to live there.
Whether you signed a fixed-term lease or a month-to-month agreement, to leave without penalty often requires you to give your notice to move in writing. Contact your local housing authority to ask how much notice you have to give before you can move without losing your last months’ rent. You can find them by searching online for [name of city] + ‘housing authority’ in any search engine or by calling your city or county directly.
Hi Heather, The tenant and I signed a lease on 7/3 for a lease starting 7/16. I took down the rental listing from market. On 7/3 and 7/4, she moved four luggage in the condo as she was traveling . I traveled from my house to condo three trips (2 hours per trip) to handle her luggage. On 7/8 when I notifying the condo association about the lease, I receive three documents from them: 1). condo rules (the rules are normal and reasonable). 2) an addendum for acknowledging reading and agreeing with the condo rules 3) moving fees if the tenant is moving furniture. I forwarded them to the tenant (on 7/8).
The tenant said that she didn’t want to pay the moving fees as it’s not mentioned to her earlier. I then agreed to cover the moving fees for her (on 7/10) .
on 7/12, she told me she didn’t want to sign the addendum and wanted the deposit back in full saying I should have presented her the documents from the condo association. and she requested full amount (half month rent + security deposit) back.
Is her request reasonable? Can I charge her penalty or any fees? Need your opinion and advice on this. Thanks!
Quite an informative read! I believe interested parties must understand the entire lease signing process. It is best to consult with a legal expert at the outset to ensure a hassle-free agreement.
We signed a 3yr commercial lease in Jan 2021, Since then we have moved areas 3 times (huge building) and lost space. They did change our price but nothing has been documented on paper. Is there a way to get out of the lease since we are no longer in area listed on lease agreement without still having to owe money? This is a sub lease and the master lease company is talking about that changing as well to a different company. The building is also not up to code. We basically use it for storing equipment.
My landlord’s property manager signed the lease in his name that day we signed it. it that legal?
Hi Natalie, unless there are exceptions or additional property manager requirements in your state that I’m not aware of, the landlord/owner typically signs a management agreement with the property manager to give them the authorization to act on their behalf. That property manager is hired to represent the landlord for day-to-day rental operations; including lease signing.
My apartment manager is new and the old one was having me sign a lease with my daughters name on it as well. I had brought this up to the old manager and she said its okay for my daughters name to be on it. I brought this up to the new manager when i was to sign a new lease. She said that her name should be taken off and she would have me sign a new one. It has been a little under a month since this was to be done. Is it my responsibility to go to the office to see if they have a new one to sign? Am i currently living here without a lease? Would i now be considered a month to month tenant?
I made a verbal agreement to rent a room in a shared house and was anticipating signing a lease on the day I moved in. Without my knowledge, the current tenant, who I had been communicating with and who at the time I believed to be the owner, allowed me to move in on the agreed date despite the fact that she had not yet received a lease from the actual owner. I have paid for next month but informed housemate/current tenant that I will be moving away to be closer to family. I am happy to help with the search for a new tenant, but I think she expects me to sign the lease and pay the owner a security deposit this week when our third housemate moves in. The security deposit was first brought up to me last week (3 weeks after move-in). Do I have to sign it?
I have a question we live in the state of Washington and lived at our property for about three years we have signed a 12 year lease on each term here it is the fourth year and they have offered a renewal early after the renewal was offered over the phone this leasing agent who by the way is the only one working in the office we have a large management company but for some reason COVID-19 and all that they have not hired a permanent manager or an assistant manager to replace the one that left after going on maternity leave so they put this leasing agent in the office he’s assuming responsibility as the manager and does something very strange he offers the renewal but the signatures are slow to come back and he does something very shocking we have a online ledger accounts my mother and brother and I each have our own section are only email address sign signs and access as the ledger we go and sign our new renewal lease online but we find out after it signed the listing agent calls and says that my mothers password to her ledger was changed by him and he signed her signature and initialed her section of a new lease that he said that the original one we did didn’t go through all the way now when we asked for his signature to be applied to the lease he is not doing this he just Hans is a piece of paper or he doesn’t sign it online but makes it seem like he did but I can clearly see that it wasn’t signed he has a piece of paper with his written signature and initials and I don’t know why he’s not signing his section of the lease online now this is a large management company their renewals and leases are all done online through our management software and this is where they keep their documents so all of our previous leases have been signed by the manager and that’s on the fourth line down they signed on the spot right after we did ours but for some reason there’s been a delay from this person from his own account this is the first time he’s been put in this type of a role he’s never worked for management company before and he has been on the job for about a year it was nice in the beginning but now is very sketchy I don’t know if it’s Covid or not but him signing my mother section of the lease and then handing out a piece of paper that just has a signature on it and in his spot but it’s not signed online where the company will see it I mean they can come back and say oh it was never signed how should we take care of this I mean should we report this to his regional manager there is a community manager that’s working at a sister site and but he is denied us access to her we tried to call her she’s never available he’s always saying you have to go through me and just real sketchy he signed her signature and purposely changed her password and changed it to a temporary password which we have not updated or changed how should we handle this I mean I don’t wanna have to get somebody in trouble but this is a legal binding contract and I just feel it’s done all wrong and by the way we are on section 8 housing and they don’t have any clue that this is gone on do you have any advice for me how I should proceed further I want to stay in my apartment so you know we want to stay living here we don’t want to ruffle any feathers but we also feel that we’re not doing our due diligence by making sure that our lease agreement is you know set in stone you know good and I just think I’m signing the lease agreement and changing the password without asking us first or my mother and just do you know he told me oh I changed her password and I signed the application because the first one didn’t go through but I don’t care if she gets upset or not you’re not like he says that because he knows my mom is kind of a hothead and so she hasn’t told him that she actually knows yet but because that he hasn’t signed the document online yet and we’re just wondering what’s going on I mean this is unusual and very unusual. Now I do want to say I know we are in the middle of a pandemic and COVID-19 has kind of knocked everything out of whack and there’s unusual things that are happening and perhaps I’m just not seeing this correctly maybe it’s not a threat and maybe it’s OK to proceed but all she has is a piece of paper with his signature on it which the signature kind of looks weird but it’s not on the official system online it’s just a piece of paper so like can they come later and say oh that was Ford store never signed I mean what should we do I have no idea I’m sorry about the long question I apologize guys please help me I really could use your direction we live in the state of Washington also to another fact when she and I when we moved in we were never given a proper walk-through with a manager because the manager that moved us and left her job the very next day and they were without a manager for a few weeks so the new manager that came on that we had for three years you know said that well a walk-through was never done so you know your do your lease or your do your security deposit back when you move you know regardless well when this guy came into the position him and his community manager at this property came to the front door anchor Hearst my mother into signing a document to say that it has the walk-through happened and they backdated it for like three years ago and it’s here for her and said oh no don’t worry this is for the managers walk-through this is not for your walk-through something about that doesn’t sound right we have thatOn video the ring doorbell camera caught the whole conversation and recorded him and his whole conversation with my mother because the signing happened at the door and she was objecting to signing it because she didn’t think it was proper also to the management company that I was in play at that time went out of business they were a large company they were no longer in business and that document had their letterhead up top and was date back dated for like three years ago when she first moved in so is this something do we need to bring this up I think we do but I’m not sure how to handle it or what kind of situation we got going on here who should we contact firstOr do we even need to contact anybody we want to stay in her unit we don’t want to ruffle any feathers but we also feel this guy is going to potentially I don’t know either hurt the company or you know by doing this to somebody else and getting a lawsuit out of it or maybe he needs and while he does need more training they might want to focus on that but I don’t wanna make them upset where they throw us out you know what I’m saying
I am a part of a 2 member S-Corp and the other shareholder is signing a lease does all shareholders socials need to be on the rental application?
I have bad credit, I am working on it. My husband’s cousin decided to cosign without allowing me to see the lease or sign a lease. I know that is not right because it is going to be my husband and I occupying the apartment.
Can I put my husband on the lease if he is not Permanent Resident?
can I be made to sign a lease twice in one year,because the p m made a mistake?
Not knowing the nature of the error or the local or state lease regulations it’s a difficult question to answer. In some instances, a simple signed addendum can resolve an error. In other instances a new lease is helpful to make sure you have documentation of the actual terms that we agreed to when you moved in. I would reach out to your local housing authority with the copy of the current lease and the new one and see if they can offer any advice — otherwise, you might want to have those documents reviewed by a real estate attorney.
The anecdote explaining why the tenant should sign first is not really valid — here’s what I mean. The same situation applies when you reverse the order: if an apartment goes radio-silence after the tenant submits the agreement with their signature, then that tenant is not able to search for another place to live for fear that the landlord will suddenly sign the document and make it binding. Same situation either way, really; the only thing that changes is whether it’s the landlord who’s stuck waiting, or the tenant. I would favour the tenant in this case, since the tenant is waiting for a place to live, while the landlord is waiting for additional income.
It’s important to remember that in some states, even if the landlord doesn’t sign the agreement it might still be binding because of the landlords intent to enter into the contract by virtue of drafting the document and requesting the tenants signature.
Thank you for the information, Kaycee! A lease signing process is a legally binding agreement between two parties interested in the property. An unsigned lease agreement is typically issued by the owner to a qualified rental applicant. Applicant reads the lease agreement, signs it, agrees to the said terms, and returns to the owner. By submitting a signed lease, they accept the proposal to lease the property.
Thank you George! We appreciate you for taking time to weigh in with your feedback.
In NY, my landlord is requesting I sign a one year lease that includes a 30 day termination for any reason for the landlord (no similar right for the tenant). Is this permitted? It makes the “lease” month to month on the tenant side, but the landlord has the benefit of a one year term.
That does sound a bit odd, Sue. I’m not familiar with terms that allow the landlord to terminate before the end of the lease. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, it might be referring to the landlords right to non-renewal of a lease at the end of the term and that they have to give you 30+ day notice of that intention. But I can’t speak to their intentions or give legal advice. So, I suggest you first contact your local housing authority to review your lease. They would best be able to give you insight if NY (or your county/city) has some kind of exception to the norm and can reassure you if the wording is actually referring to how much notice the landlord is required to give at the end of the contract, not just whenever they feel like ending the agreement. Of course, you might also wish to seek the advice of a real estate attorney. Lastly, a lease is negotiable so you could always ask for a revision that clarifies this topic for you before signing.
We are looking for a residential lease we can see for our business to open next month, and we want to ensure we choose only the most suitable ones. I’m glad I came across your writing and read tips about selecting a leasing company.
I like that you mentioned how a verbal lease contract is deemed legal and compulsory for one year. If the tenant moves in and accepts the rent, then you have a binding month-to-month occupancy.
I will show this to my partner to see how this can help us decide what to consider when choosing a lease service.
Hi Bella, I’m glad you found the article useful. I should note the article does say, “usually” when noting verbal leases. Be sure to contact your real estate board or real estate attorney familiar with the regulations in your state to confirm if verbal leases are binding in your area.
We are negotiating to be tenants in a lease with potential landlord, and we sent a lease agreement to him signed by us. But it turned out that neither of us like that contract. Now we are negotiating a new agreement, and we are concerned that the landlord might sign the first agreement later, after we both sign a new agreement.
1) We sent a signed lease contract to him.
2) Neither the landlord nor us like this first contract.
3) We are drafting a new contract that we will both sign.
4) Is there any way that the landlord could use the first signed agreement that we sent him, use that contract against us after we both sign a new contract? What should we do? Thank you
Addendums to contracts and leases happen often. But I’m not sure of the regulations about signing new leases and the ramifications down the road. I can’t offer legal advice so would recommend you reach out to the experts such as your local real estate board, housing authority, real estate attorney, and local legal aid center to ask about your scenario and what verbiage you should use in the document regarding voiding the old agreement to make sure the new agreement supersedes the first.
Great article! My question is a bit unrelated as it has to do with the involvement a tenant has with a broker after the lease is signed. My roommate and I had a negative experience with our broker (although, have had a great relationship/no issues with our landlord for over a month) and they (the broker) live in our apartment building. The broker has continued to contact me asking for ‘favors’ and has been speaking to management about the relationship we have with our other neighbors, which feels like a breach of privacy since she does not work for the building (I checked). I was wondering if there is any possibility that her duties as a broker can extend after the lease/rental agreements have been signed?
Thank you, Stevie
Great question Stevie! From first read, it sounds like they are overstepping. I might be able to help research with a little more detail:
What state/county are in you?
Will the broker negotiate your lease renewals?
And, is the building being managed by a property management company and your ‘landlord’ is the property manager… or is the landlord the owner of the building?
I’m happy to do a little research but I would also advise you reach out to your local housing authority as they might best be able to answer your question specific to those details and location.
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I rented a home for a term of one year, after the year expired,., i paid month to month. covid hit (probably irrelevant) but this “NEW” owner claims I own them back rent. They NEVER sent mer anything in the mail, e-mail, in person, or any other form of communication. How would one know that the home was bought by another company? They are demanding that I pay about 4 months “back rent” I was unaware that the house was actually sold ( the original company that leased it to me is no longer in business. What if any legal ramifications can they take? What are my options? I have 4 kids and a wife. I cant just up and move at a moments notice. what am I to do> any advice or info would be detrimental to my case, than you so very much. I’m about to the point that I think I’m going to need a lawyer.
My renter has housing assistance. She has been there 2 years + but a new agreement wasn’t written up and signed by both parties (my fault) But she has not signed papers needed for me to recieve my payment from housing. so now i’m out the 2 months rent $1600 and the part she is required $100. at what point is the place mine again. the problem is they don’t think i have the right to go in unless i notify her first. I haven’t gone in but i can right. also they changed the door lock and did’nt give me a key the big question Do i have to notify if I want to enter the house