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What makes a rental agreement legally valid?

Whether you're a tenant or landlord in North Carolina, knowing the basics about rental agreements is a must. Certain elements must be present for an agreement to be considered valid, and if these elements are not present, then legal issues can easily arise. The Balance explains what makes an agreement legally binding and which elements call into question a document's validity.

All rental agreements must contain some basic information. This includes the identity of the landlord and tenant, the amount of rent due each month, how rent should be paid, the address of the property, the length of the lease, as well as other elements. While it is best practice to have your rental agreement in writing and signed by both the landlord and all adult tenants, an oral lease can be enforced in North Carolina.

Other information can be helpful to include, even if it's not legally required. For instance, landlords are also encouraged to include provisions detailing security deposit amounts, who is responsible for which utilities, the condition the property must be kept in, information on parking, and whether pets are allowed. When provisions are clearly spelled out, there is less of a chance of confusion down the line.

Some terms can even invalidate a lease in a court of law. Landlords have certain obligations to their tenants, and as a result a lease cannot remove these obligations. Also, a landlord cannot specify that a tenant waives his or her right to the security deposit, which is supposed to be returned to the tenant at the end of the lease provided the home is kept in a reasonable condition. Leases also cannot contain language stating that a landlord may not be sued in the event there is a dispute. 

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