The internet is full of different free real estate agreement templates. You can fill them out fresh each time or download them and re-use the ones you’ve put together. Let’s take a look at the forms that are available online for free.
Although it is essential to keep in mind that most of these forms are legally binding and require legal knowledge, it’s wise to consult with a lawyer.
Free Rental Agreement Forms
There are many free rental or lease agreement forms on the internet. The free rental agreement from eForms are particularly good because they include state-specific requirements and go in-depth enough to address pet policy, smoking policy, early termination, and more.
Are there state-specific requirements for rental applications?
Yes, a generic two-page lease agreement is likely not to satisfy requirements for the particular disclosures, amendments, and clauses that various states may have. This could create issues, for example, when it comes to evictions. If you were to look at just the most landlord-friendly states, there are variations in the state-to-state eviction process.
Luckily, many of the free rental agreement templates take the form of wizards that guide you through the process. This allows you to select the particulars of your lease agreement with the click of a button.
What are some specific sections to include in a rental agreement?
1. Smoking Policies
There are a few reasons to disallow smoking inside the unit. Aside from being a fire hazard, smoking can extend the amount of time an easy rental turnover takes due to potential lingering smells, interior discoloration, and stains.
Second-hand smoke, additionally, is a landlord liability that might surprise you. That’s because second-hand smoke violates the implied right of habitability, which is the fundamental tenant-right to a space that one can live in. And secondhand smoke can be particularly problematic if one of your tenants is a person with a disability who has trouble breathing.
Given how prevalent smoking is, you may want to consider allowing smoking outside. Just make sure that, if you do, there’s no risk of smoking infringing on other people’s access to common areas or their own outdoor spaces.
2. Forms of Payment
Laying out what forms of payment are acceptable from the get-go is important so that your tenants can take the appropriate steps to be able to pay their rent. To simplify the process, consider an online rent collection app.
3. Pet Policy
Dogs are another landlord liability, so many lease agreements specify that if dogs are allowed at all that they be particular breeds or that they first be reviewed by the landlord. However, it’s important to note that pet policy does not affect service animals and emotional support animals. These animals are not considered pets but are instead classified as working animals.
4. Early Termination Notice
While the most common reason for a landlord to force early termination is a failure to pay rent, there are many others:
- Owning a secret pet.
- Adding a new occupant without permission.
- Noise complaints.
- Purposefully damaging property.
Tenants can terminate their leases early as well, making knowing how to handle early termination an indispensable part of managing a property. One way to make the process of early termination smoother or even less likely is by listing grounds for early termination and how to go through the process.
- Minimum notice
- Early termination fees
- Written notice requirements
5. Guest Policy
A good landlord knows common lease violations and how to prevent them. It’s critical to be as specific as possible in your lease to discourage behavior that you don’t condone. Additionally, you should go over the lease with your tenant to guarantee that they read it at least once.
When it comes to guests staying for too long, you can dictate the maximum number of days a guest is allowed to remain to prevent your tenant from secretly subletting your property or using it as an Airbnb. You can also stipulate the consequences for violating this clause, such as a $500 fine or early lease termination.
6. Lead-Based Paint Disclosure
If your property was built before 1978, then you’ll need to have a Lead-Paint Disclosure attached to your rental agreement. You can find the form here on the EPA’s website.
7. Bed Bugs
Bed bugs are another landlord liability. How they’re dealt with can vary from state to state and locality to locality.
For example, in New York City, landlords have 30 days to exterminate the bed bugs and have to let all potential tenants know their building’s bed bug history in the previous year (365 days).
One way to mitigate the possibility of bed bug infestation is by suggesting your tenants use anti-bed bug mattress covers.
8. Window Guards
Like New York City, a form must be given to the tenants informing them of their window guard right in some localities. In this case, the landlord must install window guards on every window if a child is younger than ten living in the apartment.
Additionally, tenants have the right to window guards even if there is no child, and the landlord cannot interfere with the installation of these guards or remove them.
Free Deed Forms
eForms has free templates for the two most commonly used types of deeds, General and QuitClaim. They also have templates for Special Warranty Deeds arranged by state, although those are more easily accessed elsewhere, like WordTemplatesOnline.Net. Since you can find such templates using so many resources online, it’s more useful to know what you’re looking for than where to find them.
What is a deed?
A deed is a legal document that transfers ownership of real property. ‘Real property” is the legal term for land or anything attached to the land, including everything from buildings to roads.
When are deeds used?
There are several instances when a deed is used.
- Real estate deeds are used during real estate transactions, whether that be a sale or to fund real estate into a trust.
- In court proceedings, real estate deeds can be used when court officials seize property to deal with unpaid taxes.
- Deeds of trust are used as an alternative to traditional mortgages.
What are the different types of deeds?
- General Warranty Deed: This type of deed offers the most protection. It entails the grantor being legally bound by specific promises, known as covenants. These covenants decree that the grantor will protect the grantee and their heirs from any prior claims and demands against the real property by dealing with them themselves.
- Special Warranty Deed: A special warranty deed only promises that no new claims or demands against the property have been made during the time the grantor has owned the title. This means that the grantee and their heirs may have to deal with claims or demands that existed before the current grantor taking possession of the title.
- Quitclaim Deed: A quitclaim deed comes with the minimum amount of protection. The grantee receives the grantor’s interest or stake in the property without having the grantor’s promise to deal with any claims or demands against the property. Because there are no promises made, the grantee may have to deal with claims or demands they don’t even know about.
- Special Warranty Deeds: These are deeds that are most often used in court cases or in instances where one person is acting on behalf of someone else in an official capacity. Most special purpose deeds bestow few if any protections to the grantee and are quitclaim deeds. Here are some common examples of noteworthy warranty deeds:
- Administrator’s Deed: If a person dies intestate”, meaning without a will, a court-appointed administrator may use a special warranty deed when bestowing a title for real estate to the grantee,
- Executor’s Deed: If a person dies testate, meaning with a will, the estate’s executor may use a special warranty to transfer the real estate title to the grantee.
- Sheriff’s Deed: This is the deed awarded to the winning bidder at an execution sale. The proceeds of the sale are intended to satisfy the judgment against the owner of the property. The grantee gets the title held by the debtor.
- Tax Deed: This is the deed issued when the property is sold to cover unpaid taxes.
- Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure: This deed is used to transfer s title by a borrower to a lender when they’ve defaulted on a loan. This is done to avoid foreclosure proceedings on the condition that the lender accepted the deed instead of foreclosure.
Do deeds vary by state?
Yes, deeds vary by state. For this reason, it’s best to consult with an attorney when filling out a deed form. In some cases, what a deed is even called varies from state-to-state. For example, a special warranty deed is called by the following names in different states:
- Covenant Deed
- Grant Deed
- Limited Warranty Deed
- Statutory Warranty Deed
Free Eviction Notices
Everyone who manages a property needs to know the breakdown of an eviction. Every state requires delivering a notice of eviction to a tenant, and these can be found online.
Do states have different eviction notices?
Yes, eForms has every state’s eviction notices, as do many other websites.
Why should I use an eviction notice?
A landlord has to go through a legal process to evict a tenant. It’s against the law for a landlord to just take matters into their own hands to get a tenant to leave. That means a landlord cannot:
- Install new locks
- Cut utilities
- Harass tenants
- Physically remove personal property from the space
- Threaten to or use physical force against the tenant
What are the two types of eviction notices?
Curable: A curable eviction notice is one that allows the tenant to fix the problem. You may want to use this for something like a late rent-payment.
Incurable: An incurable eviction notice doesn’t allow the tenant to fix the problem. You may want to use this if someone does something illegal, like commit a crime on your property.
Free Lease Termination Letters
Lease termination letters are used when a tenant or landlord wants to end a lease early or cancel a month-to-month lease agreement.
What’s the difference between a lease termination letter and an eviction notice?
Giving the tenant a letter of early termination is often the first step in the eviction process.
But since an eviction is the result of a legal process in which a court orders a tenant to vacate a property, an eviction notice and a letter of early termination are not the same.
Do lease termination letters vary from state to state?
Yes, lease termination letters are different from state to state, so it’s essential to make sure you use the right one. eForms has free lease termination letters for every state and also breaks down how to fill them out.
Free Rental Application Forms
Rental application forms are an indispensable part of the tenant screening process, so you will need to use them for sure. You can find free rental application forms on eForms and elsewhere online.
What Happens if You Don’t Properly Screen Your Tenants?
Are you screening your tenants properly? You could end up with vacancies, having to evict a tenant, having to terminate a lease early, damaged property, and more.
Knowing how to screen a tenant is very important, and it’s one of the reasons people use property managers: because it requires skills and experience to do.
Do rental application forms vary from state to state?
Yes, so whether you’re using eForms or any other free template website, you need to make sure you’re getting state-specific rental application forms. You also need to follow the laws in your locality.
For example, while you might not want to rent to people with criminal histories, Oakland’s Fair Chance Housing Ordinance disallows criminal background checks as part of the tenant screening process. So, make sure you know all the laws.
Many online rent payment collection platforms also facilitate tenant screening.
Free Property Inspection Checklists
While you’re not legally obligated to perform an apartment inspection, it’s a good idea to do so before and after every tenant. This way, you will know what to deduct from their respective security deposit.
The internet has many free property inspection checklists. It’s smart to get your tenant to sign off on the inspection as well to confirm that they’re aware of the apartment’s condition before and after moving in.
Bottom Line on Rental Agreements
The internet has many free real estate agreement templates.
Given the specific nature of these forms and their legal implications, it’s wise to read as much as possible about these forms before using them. And even then, consulting with a lawyer is wise.