What Is a Lease?
A lease is an agreement to rent a house or apartment made between a tenant and a landlord. A lease is both a contract (an agreement between two or more parties) and a conveyance (a transfer of a property interest). A lease can be oral (spoken) or written. A lease term (length) can last for any period of time, including month-to-month, year-to-year, or a definite period of time (e.g., one year). A lease for more than one year must be in writing.
A tenant should carefully read a lease before signing it. If you have a problem with any part of the lease, discuss your concerns with the landlord to see if changes can be made. Get the changes in writing.
What information should be in a Lease?
Most leases contain the following information:
- Names of the landlord and tenant;
- Address of property;
- The date the lease begins and ends;
- The amount of rent;
- The date the rent is due;
- Where the rent payment is made;
- The amount of security deposit;
- Who pays each utility (gas, electric, water, sewer, trash);
- Who makes which repairs and who pays for those repairs;
- Who is allowed to live in the property;
- Whether the landlord will provide appliances, and who is responsible for repair; and
- The phone number and address for the landlord.
Prepared by Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Inc. (LSEM). LSEM provides this educational information as a public service. It is not legal advice. Sometimes the laws change. Always consult a lawyer, if you can, before taking legal action. The mission of LSEM is to provide high-quality civil legal assistance and equal access to justice for low-income people in Eastern Missouri.
Last updated: June 2014.