Leases & Rental Agreements

Leases & Rental Agreements

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Leases & Rental Agreements

New Edition!

; ; and

, 12th Edition

Establish a solid contractual agreement with your tenant. Learn how to:

  • prepare a rental agreement or lease
  • check tenant references and credit
  • comply with your state's laws on security deposits, privacy rules, discrimination and more

Product Details

Create a solid, binding lease that complies with your state laws

If you rent out residential real estate, you need documents that are legally valid where you live—and every state’s rules are different when it comes to landlord-tenant law. Typical stationery store leases simply won’t do the job. This book contains the key legal forms you need in your state, including:

  • fixed-term lease
  • month-to-month rental agreement
  • rental application
  • tenant reference and credit check forms
  • move-in and move-out letters
  • property inspection checklist

The 12th edition is completely updated to reflect the latest state landlord-tenant laws and issues such as restricting tenant sublets through short-term rental services. You’ll find the key state‑specific rules you must include in your residential leases and rental agreements, including clauses covering security deposits, entry to rental property, late rent fees, termination notice requirements, and disclosures.


"Nolo is a pioneer in both consumer and business self-help books and software.” -Los Angeles Times

"On my scale of one to 10, this excellent book rates a solid 10."
-Robert Bruss, real estate attorney and nationally syndicated columnist

"A comprehensive look at state and federal laws governing landlord-tenant relations. Recommended..."
-Library Journal

Number of Pages
Included Forms

  • Month-to-Month Residential Rental Agreement
  • Month-to-Month Residential Rental Agreement (Spanish version)
  • Fixed-Term Residential Lease
  • Fixed-Term Residential Lease (Spanish version)
  • Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards
  • Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards (Spanish version)
  • Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home Pamphlet
  • Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home Pamphlet (Spanish version)
  • Rental Application
  • Consent to Contact References and Perform Credit Check
  • Tenant References
  • Notice of Denial Based on Credit Report or Other Information
  • Notice of Conditional Acceptance Based on Credit Report or Other Information
  • Landlord-Tenant Checklist
  • Move-In Letter
  • Tenant’s Notice of Intent to Move Out
  • Move-Out Letter

About the Author

Table of Contents

 Your Lease and Rental Documents Companion

1.  Preparing a Lease or Rental Agreement

  • Which Is Better, a Lease or a Rental Agreement?
  • Instructions for Completing the Lease or Rental Agreement Form
  • Instructions for Signing the Lease or Rental Agreement
  • Lease-Option Contracts (Rent-to-Buy)

2. Choosing Tenants: Your Most Important Decision

  • How to Advertise Rental Property
  • Renting Property That’s Still Occupied
  • Accepting Rental Applications
  • Checking References, Credit History, and More
  • Avoiding Illegal Discrimination
  • Choosing—and Rejecting—an Applicant
  • Choosing a Tenant-Manager
  • Property Management Companies

3.  Getting the Tenant Moved In

  • Inspect and Photograph the Unit
  • Send New Tenants a Move-In Letter
  • Cash Rent and Security Deposit Checks
  • Organize Your Tenant Records
  • Organize Income and Expenses for Schedule E

4.  Changing or Ending a Tenancy

  • How to Modify Signed Rental Agreements and Leases
  • Ending a Month-to-Month Tenancy
  • How Fixed-Term Leases End
  • Returning Security Deposits When a Tenancy Ends

Sample Chapter

Your Lease and Rental Documents Companion

The rental agreement or lease that you and your tenant sign forms the contractual basis of your relationship. Taken together with the laws of your state—and, in a few areas, local and federal laws—it sets out almost all the legal and practical rules you and your tenant must follow—such as how many people can occupy your property and for how long, the amount of the rent and deposit, and you (and your tenant’s) repair and maintenance responsibilities.

We’ll take you step by step through preparing a lease or rental agreement, plus key forms that supplement them, including a rental application designed to help you choose the best tenants (and weed out the bad ones) and a landlord-tenant checklist to document the condition of the rental unit at the beginning and end of the tenancy (and avoid disputes over security deposits).

Fortunately, you don’t need a lawyer to draft these important rental documents—just this book. Here’s how we can help you.

State-specific legal information. We’ll show you how to easily create an effective and legal rental agreement or lease that you can tailor to fit your situation using the 50-state law charts in Appendix A. Want to know about security deposit rules in your state? The “State Security Deposit Rules” chart has what you need, including the deposit limit, whether you need to keep the deposit in a separate account or pay interest on it, when you must return the deposit, and whether you’re exempt from the rules based on the size of your business.

Where to find forms in this book. You’ll find copies of the lease and rental agreement, rental application, and other forms in this book available for download on the Nolo website on a special companion page for this book (described below).

Both the print copy and eBook versions include blank versions of the forms (found in Appendix C), which you can either tear out or print, as well as filled-in samples in the text.



Who shouldn’t use our lease or rental agreement? Don’t use the forms in this book if you’re renting out property that is subsidized by the government; mobile homes; hotels; or commercial property. Landlords who accept Section 8 vouchers will need to use the HUD addendum, which will add to the terms and conditions of the lease you draft using this product (the HUD terms will prevail in case of any inconsistencies). If you are renting out your condominium or townhouse, use this book in conjunction with your homeowners’ association CC&Rs (covenants, conditions, and restrictions).



This Book Comes With a Website

Nolo’s award-winning website has a page dedicated just to this book, where you can:

DOWNLOAD FORMS - All forms in this book are accessible online. After purchase, you can find a link to the URL in Appendix B.

KEEP UP TO DATE - When there are important changes to the information in this book, we will post updates

And that’s not all. contains thousands of articles on everyday legal and business issues, plus a plain-English law dictionary, all written by Nolo experts and available for free. You’ll also find more useful books, software, online services, and downloadable forms.

Customer Reviews

9 Reviews





Review by Sam S.
Find it very helpful in managing our three rental homes. (Posted on 6/16/2019)

Review by NAZEM R.
It is a very useful program. I recommend it. (Posted on 2/20/2019)

Ultimately Happy! by Max B.
Your Leases and Rental Agreements book was of no value to me but your NOLO site; - did the trick.
I was more than pleased by my conversations with the 2 of your employees with whom I spoke.
Thanks for your fine service.

(Posted on 11/19/2018)

Good legal reference for experienced landlords by Nancy L.
I have been a landlord of multifamily properties for several years. I bought this book to update legal language on my rental forms and hear the latest practical information for interacting with tenants, since I manage the properties directly. Great reference value for the money. (Posted on 12/27/2017)

Review by Anonymous
I appreciate the forms and guidelines. I wish there was more discussion on what to do when you have several qualified candidates. (Posted on 8/11/2017)

Very good! by Anonymous
This product is very convenient and easy to use. It is definitely worth the cost. (Posted on 8/11/2017)

Review by Anonymous
Very pleased with this product (Posted on 8/11/2017)

Review by Anonymous
Has everything you need for an airtight lease (Posted on 8/11/2017)

Great Agreement by Anonymous
Easy to use and says what you want it to say in clear understood verberage. (Posted on 8/11/2017)

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