Your Absolute Guide to a House Rental Agreement

If you are in between jobs or cities and need a place to stay for a short amount of time, a house rental agreement may do the trick. These shorter renting stints may get you in and out of this temporary situation without having to spend a lot of time and money trying to maintain a standard lease agreement.

What Is a House Rental Agreement?

A house rental agreement sets out the terms between parties for the occupation of a house owned by Person A by Person B. A rental agreement is different than a lease agreement, even though you may think of them as the same thing. Often the two terms are used interchangeably in conversation when talking about paying a landlord to live in a dwelling, whether it be an apartment owned by a management company or a house owned by an individual.

The significant difference between a rental agreement and a lease agreement is the duration of the period the property is being occupied. A lease agreement sets forth the terms of occupancy for more extended periods of a year or more. A rental agreement is utilized when the tenancy will be short and temporary, typically no more than 30 days.

A shorter tenancy brings with it some of the same terms and conditions of a standard lease, but it may also include other points. One of the biggest differences between the two is the termination date. While a lease is terminated when the year is up unless either the tenant or landlord expresses a desire to renew, a rental agreement automatically extends in 30-day increments until the landlord or tenant terminate.

Who Would Use a House Rental Agreement?

Corporate travelers may find using a rental agreement more suitable to their needs than a lease agreement. If a landlord wants to sign a one-year lease, it means that signing anything less would cost more money. However, some landlords prefer to rent the property for shorter periods of time for many reasons. Some of these reasons may include:

Landlord's travel plans: If the landlord also travels for work or just prefers to be gone for certain times of the year, having someone pay rent while the house is vacant can be a smart financial option to keep money flow in and the house occupied.

Seasonal home: The landlord may have purchased the property as a vacation home to use one or two weeks a year. Thus, renting it out to people in between may pay the mortgage down faster or provide a second source of income to the landlord.

Corporate housing: Corporate housing is a big need among those who travel for a month or two to one location and then continue to the next. Having a house to go home to at the end of a busy day is much nicer than a hotel room. Corporations sometimes rent homes for their employees to use when they are on assignment for any length of time. Keeping employees happy can keep the business running smoothly.

What Are Some of the Standard Terms and Conditions Set Out in the House Rental Agreement?

Parties: The first section of any contract or agreement (they are the same thing) is to name the parties to the agreement. All the people are signing the contract, lessors, and lessees must be listed out as separate parties in this section. Each party must also sign the agreement as well.

Effective Date: The date the contract is signed is usually the effective date. Sometimes the date is filled in in the first paragraph of the agreement and may look something like this:

John Smith, landlord, and Jane Smith, tenant, enter into this House Rental Agreement for the property located at 123 Smith Way, effective the 21st day of August 2018.

The effective date is important as it is the beginning of the rental period between the parties. It helps to quickly calculate the termination or renewal date (if no termination date is set forth later on in the agreement).

Occupancy: Everyone who will be staying in the house should be listed as well as any pets. The landlord may require an additional deposit if pets are going to be staying in the home. If you bring a pet without disclosing it and the pet causes damage, you will be in breach of the agreement and forced to either forfeit your entire deposit or pay additional money in damages.

Length of Rental: If a tenant knows the rental will be needed for two months, there is no harm in putting that in the agreement. Unless the landlord already has a rental agreement with another party in the month immediately following your tenancy, this should be something easily agreed to.

If the rental agreement is supposed to terminate after the initial term is up, this should be spelled out in this section of the agreement. Otherwise, it is common for rentals to continue every 30 days until one party or the other ends it by written notice.

Rent: The amount of money to be exchanged per month is one of the most important elements of the house rental agreement. In this section, the amount and the means of payment should be explicitly stated as well as late fees and the date rent is considered late. If this is a true 30-day rental period, rent is more than likely paid at the time the agreement is executed. However, if there is no termination date and the agreement continues on a month-by-month basis, it's important to set out rental payment expectations and due dates. The language may read as follows:

If, after the initial term of this Rental Agreement expires, and tenant and landlord have not delivered notice to terminate, rent shall continue being paid by the tenant to the landlord for $1,000.00 due and owing on the 1st day of every month. Rent shall be accepted by the Landlord via direct money transfer or check. Rent shall be received no later than the 5th of each month. After the 5th, the rental payment is late, and a $35.00 fee shall apply.

Of course, in this section, there may also be mention of what should rent not be received by a further date.

If rent is still not received by the 10th of the month, the landlord shall immediately terminate this Agreement and begin eviction proceedings. The deposit (set forth below) shall become non-refundable, and the landlord may take any other further legal action permissible under local, state and federal law.

Deposit: The deposit is a separate payment made by the tenant at the commencement of the lease. It is typically no more than one month's rental payment, and usually, it is less than that. The deposit terms may be set forth as follows:

Commiserate with the execution of this Rental Agreement; the tenant has paid the landlord the sum of $500.00 as a deposit to be held in escrow. Tenant and landlord agree that the deposit shall be kept by the landlord at the end of the tenancy if the condition of the property is not returned in an acceptable manner (not including normal wear and tear) or if the property has sustained any kind of damage. If the tenant has maintained good control over the property and returned it in acceptable condition, the landlord will return tenant's full deposit within ten days of the termination of this Agreement.

The deposit may be kept for a variety of reasons, but the most common one is damage to the property. If you spill red wine on the carpet and a professional cleaner can't get it out, the landlord may keep a reasonable amount of the deposit to cover the cost of replacement or further cleaning. The deposit cannot be kept if the tenant disputes the condition of the property. At move-in, it is imperative that you take pictures of the current condition of the home for comparative purposes upon move-out.

Care and maintenance: The tenant is required to keep careful care and maintenance of the home at all times and not do anything to jeopardize the condition inside or out. However, if there are special conditions that the tenant needs to be responsible for, they should be outlined in this section. For instance, if the yard maintenance is going to be provided by the landlord as part of the rental agreement, it should be indicated here.

As part of this Agreement, the landlord will contract with a third-party landscape company to maintain the outside of the property in a reasonable fashion.

Entry: The landlord may not just show up and expect to gain entry to the home. This would be an invasion of privacy. Therefore, if the landlord needs to enter the property while the tenant is occupying the premises, proper notice between the landlord and tenant must occur.

If a landlord wishes to enter the property to make repairs, proper notice shall be given to tenant at least five business days before the landlord's entry. If the tenant does not agree, the landlord and tenant shall agree on an acceptable date and time. The landlord may not enter the property without permission from the tenant.

Pets: If pets are not allowed, it will be stated here in the agreement. If the landlord agrees to allow the tenant to have a pet on the premises, the pet's breed, age, and size will have to be added here. An additional deposit may be made, which is usually non-refundable.

If you are thinking of renting a home for a shorter amount of time, it's a good idea to become acquainted with the basics of the standard house rental agreement. The sections above are general, and the examples used are for illustrative purposes only. Be sure to get a copy of anything you sign and familiarize yourself with all restrictions and your responsibilities under any legal agreement.