Free Lease Agreement
Relaunching July 2020!
Simplicity: The 90-Second Lease
Actually, it took me 84 seconds to create a free lease agreement on our landlord app, but who’s counting, right?
Our simple-yet-powerful online landlord software lets you build a free lease agreement in under two minutes. You simply select your rental unit (or add a new one), and enter the relevant details: the tenants’ names, the rent, the security deposit, a few others.
After answering these few basic questions, you click a button and voila! You download your lease to print, email, or e-sign.
It doesn’t get easier than that.
Free Lease Agreement in Action
Brian creates a lease in a little over one minute. We’re keeping it easy around here!
How Can We Offer a Free Lease Agreement?
There’s no such thing as a free lunch. What’s the catch?
Here’s a refreshing splash of honesty: the truth is, we hope to persuade you to buy our premium state-specific lease agreement. It’s, well, better! More protective of you and your property. You get what you pay for, right?
But we also know that not every landlord is at a point in their career where they appreciate the power of a landlord-protective lease agreement. And there are times when landlords may not need a full-armor, bulletproof tank of a lease.
For landlords who just want something quick and simple, we’re happy to oblige you, and show off just how awesome our online landlord app is.
Improve Your Odds of Getting Paid with Online Rent Payments
Wouldn’t it be nice if the rent just appeared in your bank account every month?
Waiting for mailed paper checks and making bank runs to deposit cash and checks is so 20th Century. Require your renters to pay rent electronically!
They can pay by ACH (bank transfer) or credit card, so they have no excuses left not pay their rent on time. It’s 100% secure, and your tenants never see your personal banking details.
Welcome to rent collection in the 21st Century!
Never Hand the Keys Over Without a Written Lease
Whether you use our free lease agreement, our state-specific rental agreement, or go hire an attorney to draft a lease contract for you, you need a written lease. Otherwise, you’ll be up (the) creek without a paddle as soon as your tenants challenge you.
When you go to landlord-tenant court, the first thing the judge will ask to see is your lease agreement. If you say “We don’t have one,” then guess what? It’s your word against the tenant’s.
Who’s responsible for utilities? For shoveling snow, mowing the lawn, changing light bulbs?
How much is the late fee? How long is the grace period?
If you don’t have a written lease agreement, be prepared for the eviction process to take twice as long, and for the tenant to be twice as likely to win whenever they challenge you.
Deni & Brian on Lease Clauses & Protecting Your Property (and Profits!)
Deni’s Take on Free Lease Agreements
Finally done sifting through the rental applications. You chose your renter. You can sit back and let the online rent payments flow into your bank account, right?
Next step: Make sure you protect yourself and your property with a thorough lease agreement.
You are probably thinking you can score any old free lease agreement template from any old website, right? Or maybe, just scratch some rules on a paper napkin and call it a lease agreement.
Next question, can I use a free lease agreement template and still be protected?
Answer: Sort of.
Give Me the Basics
There are the basics of a lease agreement whether a free lease agreement template, one drafted by an attorney, or a web-built state-specific rental agreement that must be included. What are these basics?
At the risk of stating the obvious:
- Full names of tenants. A tenant or renter is one who assumes liability to fulfill the terms and conditions of the lease agreement. That includes ponying up the dough. A good rule of thumb, ALL occupants over the age of 18 should be named as a renter. It helps protect you the landlord a bit more.
- Names of the occupants. These will be all those under the age of 18.
- The correct rental unit address. Did you just chuckle at this? Well, before you have too good of a laugh – one mistake like reordering the digits of the street address or putting the wrong apartment number could cause an issue later on if you find yourself before a judge. Most judges will understand. But some will use it against you. Here is where you learn that most judges favor your renter.
- Rent Amount. Okay, this one is pretty obvious. Most free lease agreement templates provide for the common pay-each-month scenario. However, there are variables. The weekly payer, bi-weekly or even semi-annual. These are often not covered by the no-cost lease agreements.
- Lease term. In all lease agreements even the free lease agreement template, this is an important aspect.
- A lease with a definitive beginning and ending date is called a fixed-lease agreement amongst other things.
- A lease that goes on and on and has no specific ending date is a periodic lease. Most periodic leases run monthly.
- And most free rental lease agreements offer that as a choice. However, because it is a simple, free lease agreement template, do not expect any more complex arrangements as a selection.
- Security Deposit. Now hear this! Most every state has specific landlord-tenant laws surrounding the collection of, the handling of and the disposition of a security deposit. Remember, when using a free rental lease agreement, often there are generic terms. And this includes those for a security deposit. Did you know that one of the most common disputes between landlord and tenants is security deposit-related? So, what to do?
- Arm yourself with knowledge, learn your landlord-tenant regulations.
- If using a free lease agreement template, understand that they may not include extras like inspection forms. So, get one!
- Understand what “normal wear and tear” is. Some states define this to a degree.
There is much more to a lease than these basics – more on that shortly.
No Lease: He Said, She Said
Here you are with a property worth tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. A property you worked hard to obtain. A property you imagined would be providing you with cash flow. That’s a pretty valuable asset, right? Mr. & Mrs. Renter seem like a lovely couple. So, you hand them over the bright shiny key to that valuable asset with nothing more than a handshake and an understanding.
Here’s the thing though: understandings not written down quickly become misunderstandings.
There is nothing like a signature on a rental agreement; whether it is a free lease agreement template or a paid comprehensive state lease, that becomes the proof that the parties agree to the terms. That lessens the risk of a “he said, she said” situation in court.
Expectations need to be spelled out, signed, sealed and delivered!
The Best Things in Life Are Free, Aren’t They?
John Ruskin, leading art critic of the Victorian era said a mouthful when he expressed, and I quote “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
Truth be told, you can grab a free lease agreement template from reputable sources, including SparkRental landlord app. Most often they will include the basics. A free lease agreement is absolutely, positively better than no lease agreement at all.
With that said, a free lease agreement is no substitute for a protective, state-specific lease agreement. Here are a few “what if” examples to illustrate:
- What if your rental property has wood flooring? It is expensive, and tenants are notoriously tough on flooring. However, when you include protective clauses that detail not only how to take care of those wood floors but also the expectations of your renters, you leave yourself that much more protected.
- What if you pay for the water and sewer? In that free lease agreement template that you used, it did spell out the number of occupants. But what about usage caps? Tenant responsibility triggers? How about guest policies? The more people in the rental unit, the more expensive the water and sewer. Plus, added wear and tear!
Again, you must weight out the good and the bad, the free and the premium. Always, always, read through a free lease completely. Make sure it will stand up against your renters beating in addition to a judges’ scrutiny should you end up in court.
There are many states that have specific requirements for residential lease agreement clauses and language. Most free lease agreement templates do not contain them.
So, When Can I Use a Free Lease?
I am a proponent of lease agreements being comprehensive, state-specific and landlord-protective. I have spent well over 15 years researching landlord-tenant statutes, and residential lease law.
But there are always exceptions, right?
When renting to your family members or close friends in certain informal situations, a free lease contract may be acceptable. There may be other simple renting circumstances where a basic free lease agreement template will work for you.
Addenda, Disclosures, and Riders
It is important to understand the various attachments to a lease agreement. I have taken the liberty to list some below, but there are many more.
- Inspection Statement (Checklist). This handy-dandy document is powerful. Especially when used correctly. Before your renter moves one box into the rental property, pull out this document and walk through, taking pictures and documenting condition. If anything is brand spanking new, mark it! And then have your soon-to-be renter sign it. Store it. (Guess what, the Spark Rental Landlord App will let you upload your documents, pictures, and receipts!)
- Did you know that you are required to provide your renter with a Lead Paint Disclosure if your rental property was built before 1978? It is true! And it is a federal requirement!
- Allowing pets? Make sure you use an addendum that spells out all the rules and regs. Include the type of pet, color, weight, and age. This leaves little room for sneaking in another companion.
- If you are using a co-signor, consider a co-signor agreement. This way all parties are on board!
- Non-Smoking, Rules and Regulations or just about anything can be added to a lease to make it specific to your rental situation.
Use free or not to use free, that is the question. No Shakespearean poetic answer here. Makes sure that you take all the complexities of the present circumstances in your rental situation into consideration. Explore the free lease agreement templates that are offered. Make sure that at the end of the day, it will completely cover your a$$.
Questions? We’re an email away!
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I really need a rental lease?
Absolutely! A residential lease agreement, even a free rental agreement is better than no rental lease at all.
Why, you ask? It protects your rental property PLUS you. Even the Spark Rental free lease agreement provides some of the minimal essentials including Rent, Security Deposit, Names of all occupants and tenants, the term of the lease and more.
What are the big differences between the free lease agreement and one I pay for?
Most leases that you will pay for will provide a more landlord-protective platform that is compliant with each state. It will also provide the capability to edit for various situations. Not to mention add-ons and addenda, some that are state required. Whereas, a free or sample lease agreement does not generally offer those type of features.
How difficult is it to create the Spark Rental Free Lease Agreement?
Very easy, indeed! You will be walked through a simple builder that will ask you questions about the property, your tenants and for some other pertinent rental information. You complete the fields. And, voila! You can now print your sample lease on the spot!
What is the cost of the state-specific leases?
This depends on whether you signed up for a free, premium or our outstanding ultimate landlord app plan.
- Free account, state-specific leases cost $29 per lease,
- Premium account state-specific lease cost only $19
- Ultimate accounts only cost $9 per state-specific lease.
And for a short time, if you prefer, the completely editable, reusable Spark Rental State-compliant lease is still available for only a one-time fee of $50. Act now and you can even upload the lease to your Spark Rental Landlord App.