Do You Need A Rental Agreement?

Rental agreements are a standard in the apartment living marketplace. As a tenant, signing one provides you with protection and a set of rules that govern your interactions with your landlord. Likewise, the rental agreement lays out the responsibilities that you have as the tenant, as well as the duties that are assigned to the landlord. Primarily, tenants must generally care for the property (keeping the home clean to a certain degree, refraining from smoking inside, if part of the contract, and more) and pay rent. On the other hand, a landlord must perform maintenance on the apartment or house, fix problems in a timely manner, and perform any other functions that the contract spells out.

A rental agreement sets forth the professional relationship that a renter and landlord will have with one another during the tenancy period. Moving into a homeowner's property without signing an agreement is possible, but this is generally a bad idea for both parties (via The Times of India). Without this signed document, any disputes that may arise become a matter of unsubstantiated claims and can be next to impossible to solve legally.

In addition, leases and rental agreements come in a few different forms — most often the duration and renewal terms of the tenancy (via Forbes). So the short answer is, yes, you absolutely need to codify the terms of a lease in some form of a written agreement, but the "how" can vary.

Landlords can set rules and regulations for proper use

The most important feature of a tenancy agreement for the landlord is the ability to set out terms, rules, conditions, and potential penalties for the tenant. Rental contracts work to provide a framework for managing the relationship between tenant and landlord by spelling out, in plain terms, the responsibilities and rules that will govern each side of the agreement. Landlords must, basically, provide a tenant with a property that is in good working order and remains that way throughout the length of the lease.

On the other hand, tenants must treat the property with respect, considering that it isn't theirs, and they must pay the agreed-upon rent payments each month or any other way the contract stipulates. This is where the utility of a rental agreement comes into play most visibly. Without a tenancy agreement, it can be difficult to point to specific terms of use and payment that govern the arrangement (via Investopedia).

With a lease, if there is any issue in receiving payment, the landlord can take legal action to be compensated appropriately. The proof outlining the failure of a tenant to live up to their end of the bargain is in black and white. Without this document, a landlord may have immense difficulty in being made whole in the event of non-payment. Similarly, without a written lease, repairing damages will be the landlord's responsibility, too, in all likelihood (via The Times of India).

Tenants are protected from sudden changes or harassing practices

Just like a tenancy agreement protects property owners from mischief on the part of the tenant, this written contract compels a landlord to play by a set of fair and distinct rules as well. One thing that is often placed in rental contracts is how a property owner can enter the home. Toward the end of a lease, landlords will typically want to show the property to new, prospective renters in order to minimize the gap. However, landlords cannot simply enter the property whenever they get a call from a new potential renter. Instead, they will have to notify their current tenants and work out a mutually acceptable time, per the contract terms (via Investopedia).

Similarly, without a tenancy agreement, the landlord could notify their tenant of a change in rent price without warning. The terms of a rental contract stipulate how and when rental pricing can change, and it protects renters from abusive practices like a sudden alteration to the terms.

Renters also benefit from the fact that the appliances and generalized services in the property (windows, walls, roofing, air conditioning, etc.) are owned and must be maintained by the landlord. For example, if the air conditioning breaks, it's the responsibility of the owner to fix the problem. A tenancy agreement will spell out how these types of issues are to be resolved.