Why Look for a Free Printable Renters Agreement?

I remember it well: the moment when my new landlady presented me with what she called a "standard renter's agreement."

I was new to renting but I'd been taught to ask questions when presented with a so-called "standard" legal document. Besides, the first page included a number of specific line items which I needed to initial. They included: "Must mop the floors twice a month"; "Guests can stay no longer than 48 hours"; "Flower beds must be watered and dead flowers removed." Really, was this standard?

The answer, of course, is that this wasn't a standard renter's agreement. My landlady loved her Spanish-style bungalow and she wanted a tenant who would agree, in writing, to keep it in tip-top shape. She presented her house rules along with, and as part of, her rental agreement. Barring any illegal requests these demands were well within her rights. Because she was renting in a competitive area she knew she could demand specifics like watering her flowerbeds.

So if no rental agreements are truly "standard," why look for a free, printable renter's agreement?

The answer is simple: most landlords do in fact take a page or more from free and basic rental agreements. Finding a free rental agreement online can show you what to expect when it comes time to sign your agreement. If you're asked to sign a lease addendum, do so with a certain amount of caution.

Below is a link to a free printable renters agreement.

As for my landlady's "standard rental agreement"? I mopped the floors, watered the plants, and kept her historic Spanish bungalow looking as nice as the day I moved in... and in exchanged I enjoyed living there for two years. No one has since asked me to sign such a detailed lease agreement but I would happily do it again. A landlord who insists on proper maintenance will diligently care for your apartment's condition in other ways, too.

Katie McCaskey experienced apartment living in three major cities - Sydney, Los Angeles, and New York City - and can assure you: check your lease agreement. She is now an "urban escapee" living in scenic Staunton, Va.

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