Ultimate Guide to Residential Rental Property Leasing

Last Updated: January 2024

Residential Rental Property Leasing

Residential rental property involves the arrangement where landlords rent out their properties to tenants for residential use. Leasing out residential properties requires careful planning, effective property marketing, tenant screening, and ongoing maintenance to ensure that the property is attractive to potential tenants and well-maintained throughout the lease term.

12 Steps – How to Lease a Residential Rental Property?

Residential rental property leasing can be a win-win for both tenants and investors. Tenants get a nice place to live in and landlords generate a steady stream of income. However, the process requires careful planning and execution to ensure that the property is well-maintained, tenants are satisfied, and the landlord’s interests are protected. Below we take a look at 10 steps that landlords and property managers can follow to successfully lease out a residential rental property.

  1. Prepare the Property: Before advertising the property for rent, landlords should ensure that it is clean, well-maintained, and ready for tenants to move in. This includes making any necessary repairs or upgrades, ensuring that all included appliances such as a kitchen range are in good working condition, and conducting a thorough cleaning.
  2. (Optional/Recommended) Hire a Real Estate Agent: Most of the time, it is easier to hire a real estate agent who specializes in residential properties such as single family rentals (SFR) or multifamily apartments, to handle the leasing process. Their commission is usually a worthwhile investment if they can secure a good tenant at favorable terms for you.
  3. (Optional) Don’t Hire a Real Estate Agent: Alternatively, a landlord can handle the process of leasing out of their own property to save on commissions. Be prepared to handle all aspects of the marketing process, lease negotiation, and contract drafting if you decide to take this approach.
  4. Determine the Rental Price: Landlords should research the local rental market to determine a competitive price for their residential property. They can do this by looking at similar properties in the area, as well as taking into account factors such as location, size, and amenities. Real estate data software such as rent comparison tools can also help.
  5. Advertise the Property: Once the unit is ready and the rental price has been determined, landlords should advertise the property to potential tenants. This can be done through online real estate listing sites that specialize in residential listings and social media.
  6. Screen Potential Tenants: It is important for landlords to carefully screen potential tenants to ensure that they are reliable and responsible. This includes conducting a background check, verifying employment and income, and checking references. Using a tenant screening software can help make this process easier for both applicants and property managers.
  7. Draft a Lease Agreement: Once a tenant has been approved, a residential lease agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the contract should be drafted. This should include details such as the rental price, length of the lease, and any restrictions or requirements.
  8. Collect Security Deposit and Rent: Before the tenant moves in, landlords should collect a security deposit and the first month’s rent. The security deposit should be held in a separate account and returned to the tenant at the end of the lease term, provided there is no damage to the property.
  9. Conduct a Move-In Inspection: Before the tenant moves in, landlords should conduct a move-in inspection to document the condition of the property. This can help to avoid disputes over damages or repairs when the tenant moves out.
  10. Maintain the Property: Throughout the lease term, landlords should maintain the property to ensure that it is in good condition. This includes addressing any maintenance or repair issues in a timely manner.
  11. Communicate with the Tenant: Landlords should maintain open communication with their tenants throughout the lease term. This can help to address any concerns or issues that arise and ensure that the tenant is satisfied with the rental experience. Landlords can use a residential rental property management software to facilitate the relationship to track rent payments, maintenance requests, and more.
  12. Renew or End the Lease: At the end of the lease term, landlords can choose to renew the lease with the tenant or end the rental agreement. If the tenant is interested in renewing, landlords can either do so via a lease amendment or draft a new lease agreement that outlines any changes to the rental terms. If the landlord decides not to renew the lease, they should provide the tenant with appropriate and advanced notice, in addition to following local laws and regulations for ending a rental agreement.

Residential Rental Property Leasing Documents

Residential rental property leasing requires specialized documentation that serves as the legal foundation for the relationship between landlords and tenants. Understanding and carefully drafting these leasing documents is essential, as these documents, outline the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties involved in the rental arrangement.

Best Website for Residential Rental Property Lease Listings


Real estate listing websites that list residential properties attract millions of visitors every year and streamline the renting process for both tenants and property owners. Access to these real estate leasing platforms is typically free for renters to browse, but commonly charge the property owner a fee to list their vacant unit on the site. If you hire a real estate agent to lease your unit, they usually can syndicate it across many of these platforms at no additional charge.

Using a Real Estate Agent to Lease Residential Rental Properties

Rental Real Estate Agents

Using a real estate agent to lease a residential rental property can be a convenient and effective option for both tenants and landlords. Rental real estate agents have access to a wide network of potential clients and can help to market the property to a larger audience through resources often provided by their associated real estate brokerage. They can also assist with tenant screening, lease negotiations, rental rates, and other factors that can impact the success of the leasing process.

Residential Leasing Companies

Coldwell Banker
Re/max Brokerage
EXP Realty Brokerage
Keller William KW
Century 21

When leasing a residential rental property, the real estate agents that facilitate the process are usually associated with a particular larger company called a brokerage. Real estate brokerages hold individual real estate agent’s licenses and provide their agents with access to helpful resources through shared networks. Residential real estate brokerages can range from local small multi-person companies, to multinational brands with thousands of agents. Much like choosing a brand of car or associating with a favorite sports team, real estate agents carefully select their brokerage to help maximize their growth and sales potential.

Residential Rental Leasing FAQ

Residential rental property leasing establishes a legal and practical relationship between landlords and tenants, each with their own set of rights and responsibilities. Understanding these aspects is crucial for both parties to ensure a fair, lawful, and smooth tenancy experience. The following table provides a comparison of the key rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants:

AspectLandlord’s Rights and ResponsibilitiesTenant’s Rights and Responsibilities
Rent CollectionLandlords have the right to collect rent as agreed in the lease and may impose late fees as per the agreement.Tenants are responsible for paying rent on time and in full as stipulated in the lease agreement.
Property MaintenanceLandlords are responsible for ensuring the property is habitable, handling major repairs and adhering to health and safety standards.Tenants must maintain the cleanliness and condition of the property, reporting any damages or necessary repairs.
Access to PropertyLandlords have the right to access the property for inspections or repairs, but must provide notice as required by law, usually 24-48 hours.Tenants have the right to privacy and quiet enjoyment, meaning landlords cannot enter the property without proper notice except in emergencies.
Lease Agreements and RulesLandlords can set reasonable rules and lease terms, including restrictions on subletting, pet ownership, and alterations to the property.Tenants must adhere to the lease terms and rules set by the landlord, including any restrictions or policies outlined in the agreement.
Eviction and Lease TerminationLandlords have the right to evict tenants for lease violations, non-payment of rent, or other legal reasons, following proper legal procedures.Tenants have the right to a fair eviction process and to contest an eviction if they believe it is unjust or illegal.
This table is a general overview for educational purposes only. Please review local jurisdictional law and regulations.

Do Property Management Companies Handle All Aspects of Residential Leasing for Landlords?

Property management companies generally handle a wide range of aspects of residential leasing for landlords, including tenant screening, rent collection, maintenance and repairs, and lease management. They also deal with tenant communications, handle any issues that arise, and ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. There are even residential property management companies that specialize in single family property management and multifamily property management. However, the extent of rental property management services provided can vary depending on the company and the agreement with the landlord, with some landlords choosing to retain certain responsibilities themselves.

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