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United States – Lease Agreements

The United States is a popular destination for expats seeking a new living experience or job opportunities. Renting a property in the US can be an exciting prospect. However, finding the right property and signing a lease agreement can be a daunting task. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about lease agreements in the US, from the typical lease term to standard and additional clauses, and what expats should look out for before signing a contract.

Typical Lease Term in the United States

The typical lease term in the US is usually 12 months, although some landlords may offer a longer or shorter lease term. It’s important to note that rental payments are typically made monthly, and a security deposit is required before moving in.

Furnished vs Unfurnished Rental Properties in the United States

In the US, rental properties are commonly available as either furnished or unfurnished. Furnished properties typically include essential items such as beds, sofas, and kitchen appliances. On the other hand, unfurnished properties only include basic fixtures such as light fixtures and built-in kitchen cabinets.

What Items are Included in Furnished Properties?

Furnished properties in the US usually come with the following items:

  • Beds, mattresses, and linens
  • Sofas and chairs
  • Dining table and chairs
  • Kitchen appliances, such as a refrigerator, stove, and oven
  • Basic kitchenware, such as dishes, glasses, and utensils
  • Curtains or blinds
  • Wardrobes and dressers

It’s important to clarify with the landlord what items are included in the furnished property before signing a lease agreement. Some landlords may include additional items such as a TV, while others may not.

Standard Clauses in a Lease Agreement in the United States

The lease agreement in the US typically includes the following standard clauses:

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  • Identification of the landlord and tenant
  • Description of the property, including its address and any included furniture or appliances
  • Rent amount and payment terms
  • Security deposit amount and terms of its return
  • Maintenance and repair responsibilities of the landlord and tenant
  • Termination clauses, including notice periods for both parties
  • Utility payment terms and responsibilities
  • Subletting and assignment restrictions

It’s important to carefully review each clause in the lease agreement and ask any questions before signing the contract. Once the lease agreement is signed, it becomes a legally binding contract, and it’s difficult to make changes to its terms.

Additional Clauses in a Lease Agreement in the United States

While the standard lease agreement clauses in the US cover most of the important terms, there may be additional clauses that the landlord or tenant may want to include. Some of these clauses may not be mandatory but can be beneficial for both parties.

Late Payment Clause

The late payment clause outlines the late fee that the tenant must pay if they fail to make the rent payment on time. This clause can be useful in case of unforeseen circumstances that may cause a delay in rent payment.

Pet Clause

The pet clause outlines the landlord’s policy regarding pets in the rental property. It’s important to clarify whether pets are allowed or not, and if they are, any restrictions or additional fees that may apply.

Renewal Clause

The renewal clause allows the tenant to renew the lease agreement for another term after the initial lease term has ended. This clause can be useful for tenants who plan to stay in the property for an extended period.

Expats and Lease Contracts in the United States

Expats in the US should be aware of several key factors when signing a lease agreement:

Visa Requirements

Expats must have a valid visa to rent a property in the US. It’s important to ensure that all necessary documents are in order before signing a lease agreement.

Credit Checks

Landlords in the US usually perform a credit check on the tenant to ensure that they have a good credit history. It’s important for expats to establish a credit history in the US before renting a property.

Security Deposits

A security deposit is required before moving into a rental property in the US. It’s important to clarify with the landlord the amount of the security deposit and the terms of its return.

Condition Reports in the United States

Condition reports are common in the US before signing a lease agreement. The condition report should be detailed and include photos of the property and its contents. This report can be used in case of any disputes or damages that occur during the lease term.

Qualifications and Licenses for Letting Agents in the United States

Letting agents in the US must hold a valid real estate license in the state where the property is located. They must also be registered with the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and their state’s Realtor Association. These organizations provide training and support for real estate professionals in the US.

Reputable Letting Agency Associations in the United States

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is a reputable organization for letting agencies in the US. NAR provides industry standards, training, and support for real estate professionals in the US. Their website is www.nar.realtor.


Renting property in the US can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to understand the lease agreement and any additional clauses before signing a contract. Expats should be aware of potential visa requirements, credit checks, and security deposits. Working with a reputable letting agency can provide industry expertise, peace of mind, and help expats navigate the complex process of renting property in the US. By carefully reviewing the lease agreement and understanding the standard and additional clauses, expats can enjoy their new home in the US with confidence.

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