Tenant Management

Residential Lease Agreements: Best Software for Small Landlords

residential lease agreements

Update: This post has been updated with new scoring and winners based on changes or upgrades to some of the products and services. We have also included new products that have come to our attention since the last update. Read on to see our winners for the best software for residential lease agreements for 2022:

Property management software is a useful tool for small and independent landlords to improve efficiency, ease, and profitability. We have previously written overviews of several top software products that offer solutions for various property management tasks from advertising and applications to tenant screening, lease signing and rent collection. We have also previously discussed the pros and cons of having your tenants sign their residential lease agreements remotely. Here we compare how each of them handle the lease creation, signing and storing process.

Top Benefits of Using Property Management Software for Residential Lease Agreements

  1. Convenience: The logistics of getting all parties together at the same time to review the lease agreement and sign in person can be challenging. Prior to pandemic lockdown times, people had busy or irregular schedules. These days, it is recommended to try and sign residential lease agreements remotely if at all possible.
  2. Document creation: With software, it is easier to create quality documentation where property and landlord and tenant information is automatically populated in the lease agreement consistently and accurately. No more white-out or marked up documents!
  3. Strength of the agreement: Similarly, special clauses and addendums can be easily inserted into the electronic document as needed. This provides for additional protection for all parties against circumstances that a standard lease might not account for.
  4. Cost: No printing, scanning, faxing or filing. Everything can be completed online and stored in the cloud for additional safety and security.
  5. Expediency: Signing your residential lease agreements online is virtually instantaneous. Simply login to your property management software and sign.

The Best Residential Lease Agreements

Here are our winners for the software that is best for residential lease agreements:

SERVICE DESCRIPTION RATING MORE
BEST OVERALL
RentPrep logo
Avail
  • Advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, collect rent, and e-sign custom local leases, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords.
  • Strength: Complete Solution
52.0
Read ReviewSign Up Here
BEST FOR LEASES ONLY
ApplyConnect logo
ezLandlordForms
  • With a range of free rental applications and lease templates, landlords can easily create legally binding documents in minutes using ezLandlordForms.
  • Strength: Leases & e-Signing
51.5
Read ReviewSign Up Here
NEXT HYBRID SOLUTION
Avail logo
Hemlane
  • Hemlane is a next-gen property management tool that helps property owners manage their rentals. More than simply property management software, Hemlane is a platform that bridges the gap between DIY and full service property management.
  • Strength: Hybrid Full-Service Mgmt
47.0
Read ReviewSign Up Here

Best Overall Residential Lease Agreements:

The property management software that handles the lease agreement process best for small landlords in our comparison is Avail. Avail stands out from the competition because it offers city and state-specific lease templates that include the required disclosures and attachments necessary to comply with local ordinances. Avail also makes it easy to create new leases from tenants’ application and screening information. Signing leases electronically is a simple, secure process for both you and your tenants. While Avail’s document storage features are not as robust as the others, it’s Local Assist feature is unique. Not only does it help ensure your leases are compliant in your property’s location, it also helps set the right rent price, late fees and guidance.

  • Advertise your property, find and screen tenants, sign leases, collect rent, and e-sign custom local leases, with tools built specifically for DIY landlords.
  • Strength: Complete Solution

Best if You Primarily Need Residential Lease Agreements:

Many of our readers are looking to solve a specific problem, not necessarily re-work the entire way they manage their rental property. Like PayRent for online rent collection, ezLandlordForms focuses narrowly on one task; helping landlords build strong residential lease agreements that are enforceable and compliant. If this is what you’re after we think theirs is the best offering. Additionally, ezLandlordForms offers a free application and access to tenant screening reports. Once you have an applicant you like, you can easily take them through screening and signing their lease.

  • With a range of free rental applications and lease templates, landlords can easily create legally binding documents in minutes using EZ Landlord Forms.
  • Strength: Leases & e-Signing

Best Next-Gen Property Management Resource with Lease Builder:

Hemlane does well on our scoring for residential lease agreements, but they make this best-of list because they offer state-specific leases as well as a unique property management service model. As with many industries, companies are using technology to create tools that disrupt the status quo. Hemlane has three packages, providing tools for those who want to self-manage, as well as those who want to outsource most or all property management tasks at flat fee pricing. We’ve included Hemlane here because the combination of their lease builder and their unique set of features will present a compelling option for some landlords.

  • Hemlane is a next-gen property management tool that helps property owners manage their rentals. More than simply property management software, Hemlane is a platform that bridges the gap between DIY and full service property management.
  • Strength: Hybrid Full-Service Mgmt

The Contenders:

We considered the following rental property management software products for the best residential lease agreements:

The Best Residential Lease Agreement Criteria and Scores:

To determine the best property management software for residential lease agreements, we graded each service on 5 key rent collection features on a ten point scale, and also included a bonus feature. Then we tallied to scores to choose a winner in a couple of different categories. Here’s how they stack up:

CRITERIA:
State-Specific Leases 10 6 7 6 10 10 0 10 9
Customization 10 9 9 10 10 10 8 10 9
Document Creation 10 8 7 9 10 10 0 9 9
Electronic Signing 10 9 10 9 10 10 10 10 9
Pricing 10 5 7 8 9 9.5 9.5 10 9
Bonus Features +2 +1 - +1 +1 +2 +2 - +2
TOTAL 52 38 40 43 50 51.5 29.5 49 47

Firstly, we looked at whether the software includes a residential lease agreement template for landlords to use. We also graded on whether they include state-specific, or even city-specific lease agreements to be compliant with local ordinances. Some services include a free general residential lease agreement but charge extra for state-specific leases.

While using a generic, free residential lease agreement is better than not having any formal, written document in place with your tenant, we strongly believe it is better to have a lease that is specific to your state, or even your city in some instances. Each jurisdiction handles residential lease agreements differently. For example, a Texas residential lease agreement will look different than a California residential lease agreement or a Florida residential lease agreement.

Furthermore, some cities limit up front deposits, application, screening, and move-in fees. Similarly, others call for payment schedules, utility charge-backs, and other specific landlord-tenant rights and responsibilities. Your locality may also require lead-based paint or mold disclosures and pamphlets. These rules continue to evolve. Therefore, don’t get caught without legally binding documentation in place and jeopardize your relationship with your tenants.

Avail – score 10/10:

Avail provides subscribers with a lawyer-approved, state-specific residential lease template. These include relevant all clauses, disclosures, and attachments necessary based on your local ordinances. There is also a wide range of addenda to choose from, so you can tailor your lease to fit your needs. Also, Local Assist will provide essential notes and documents where applicable, including rent price recommendations, late fees, and more.

Buildium – score 6/10:

Buildium does not provide either state-specific leases. Partnering with Hellosign they give landlords the tools to upload a document and create a fillable template out of it. If you’re looking for strong lease documents to use on a platform such as Buildium we have listed some options for finding state-specific leases below.

Rentec Direct – score 7/10:

Like Buildium, Rentec Direct partners with Hellosign to give landlords the tools they need to set up reusable rental agreement templates. They do provide a handful of residential lease templates, however they are not state-specific. If you decide to use them we recommend you edit them and consulting a lawyer, so that you’re sure they comply with your local laws.

TenantCloud – score 6/10:

TenantCloud does not provide users with city and state-specific leases. Landlords need to import or create their own. However, it does come with a basic residential lease agreement template that the landlord can customize. You can also create and store multiple lease templates for different states or tenant types. However, TenantCloud does not review or approve leases for state-specific uses. Landlords should use this lease at their own risk.

LeaseRunner – score 10/10:

LeaseRunner, as the name suggests, provides leases tailored to the laws of all 50 states. City laws are also often incorporated. All required forms, disclosures, and pamphlets are included. Local laws regarding deposits and fees are also addressed. Documents are lawyer-reviewed yearly so that they keep up with changing laws. Addenda and disclosures required for each state are automatically included in Pro Plan lease packages.

ezLandlordForms – score 10/10:

ezLandlordForms is another company that specializes in lease documents for landlords. You can choose free printable standard forms, which you manually complete, or purchase a state-specific e-signable lease agreement bundle by choosing one of their Pro Plan options. Documents are guaranteed to comply with the current law for each state, and are fully customizable. ezLandlordForms also provides a long list of addenda, disclosures, and additional documents to choose from, giving landlords the ability to create the lease agreement that works best for them. Another unique benefit is that up-to-date lease document packages are also offered for all Canadian provinces.

RentRedi – score 0/10:

RentRedi does not offer templates or a lease builder. Landlords create their documents elsewhere and upload them for electronic signing, either through the RentRedi website or their app.

SparkRental – score 10/10:

SparkRental features a handy wizard for creating state-specific residential lease agreements. Like several other options here, they give you the option of paying for a fully customizable lease package that is electronically signed by all parties, or downloading a document package which cannot be edited and is signed offline. As you build the lease the wizard gives you prompts where you location has specific laws, and gives you many opportunities to tailor your agreement. Utility payment, specific maintenance responsibilities, pet agreements, and payment options are examples of where landlords have a chance to customize. Addenda and disclosures required by state law are included automatically.

Hemlane – score 9/10:

At their Essential and Complete subscription levels Hemlane offers state-specific residential lease agreements, amendments, and notices. These documents are offered in partnership with zipForm Plus and Rocket Lawyer. The Basic level allows you to upload external documents.

Next, we examine the level of customization you can make to the residential lease agreement or template. These can be provided either by the software or another source. Some products have a step-by-step process to create your lease. It might ask for tenant and property information and then automatically populate it into the agreement. Conversely, others start with a standard residential lease agreement template and allow you to choose from auto-fill elements to include in a customized lease.

Important: If you want to create your own custom lease agreements, we recommend you consult an attorney or use a service like Nolo or RocketLawyer to ensure your leases comply with relevant state and local laws to be valid and enforceable.

Avail – score 10/10:

Subscribers to Avail’s Unlimited Plus plan have access to step-by-step lease customization. As a result, landlords can specify start and end dates, rent amount, and any other fees or deposits they require. Select from a list of common optional causes or create and include your own. In addition, you can edit the provided lease clauses themselves.

Buildium – score 9/10:

Once you create or upload your own residential lease template, you can save and reuse them for time-saving future use. You can also customize lease agreements with common features like signature blocks and form fields or include clauses about things like parking and pets.

Rentec Direct – score 8/10:

Rentec Direct has some basic lease templates and other documents. While these are not state-specific, you can use them as a start towards creating your own custom residential lease agreements. Rentec Pro and Rentec PM subscribers also can use the Forms Editor to include commonly used data fields for easier population of tenant information.

TenantCloud – score 9/10:

Starting with TenantCloud’s basic residental lease agreement template, landlords can select and customize specific lease items such as deposits, late fees, and other transactions. You can also select utilities and services that will be provided by the landlord or paid by tenants. TenantCloud will take you through these steps and then create and share a new residential lease agreement to you and your tenants.

LeaseRunner – score 10/10:

All lease and addenda documents are fully customizable at no additional charge.

ezLandlordForms – 10/10

All leases and addenda are fully customizable. In addition to editable text, ezLanldordforms provides over 25 addenda, disclosures, and additional documents to choose from when building your lease agreement.

RentRedi – score 8/10:

Landlords upload any documents they want to use to RentRedi. This means lease documents are completely customizable, but not from within the platform.

SparkRental – score 10/10:

Legal clauses in the Premium document package are editable and, as we mentioned above, there are many opportunities to tailor the terms and your conditions to suit your needs and the particulars of your property. State-specific addenda and disclosures are included, and there are many others to incorporate if they are appropriate.

Hemlane – score 9/10:

Hemlane offers addenda and notices to choose from as you’re building your lease.

When creating a new lease agreement, you likely already have the tenant and property information from their applicant or other documents. You can manually type them into each of the lease documents yourself, but it is easier and more reliable if the software automatically populates this information for you. As a result, this saves time, eliminates mistakes and ensures consistency across all legal documents.

Avail – score 10/10:

Once you have created a residential lease agreement to your liking, invite your tenant to sign the lease using just their name and email address. Avail will walk them through the lease signing process. Moreover, you can communicate with your tenants through the Avail app should they have any questions. You can also track the signing progress, which can be particularly useful if you are renting to multiple people such as roommates. Once your tenants sign, Avail will notify you to sign and complete the process. Avail follows the 2000 E-sign Act so you can be assured your newly signed electronic lease is fully legal and enforceable.

Buildium – score 8/10:

Create new leases from scratch or upload an existing lease or document. With auto-fill fields, you won’t have to remember details like tenant names, rent amounts, or dates.

Rentec Direct – score 7/10:

Within your custom documents or lease agreements, Rentec Direct will auto-populate the form fields you included when building your document, such as tenant name, address, dates and rent amounts.

TenantCloud – score 9/10:

If your tenant is already connected with you, their information from the application and screening process will automatically be included in the lease agreement. But if it is not, you can add their details manually and the lease will populate their information in all relevant places. TenantCloud steps you through their document creation process which will then include the required clauses for your lease.

LeaseRunner – score 10/10:

LeaseRunner supports vacancy advertising and online applications. When it comes time to write and sign the rental agreement the property data and applicant information are pulled straight into the lease documents, so there is no need for manual entry.

ezLandlordForms – score 10/10:

With Pro Plan residential lease agreements an applicant’s data is automatically populated into the lease wizard. Free applications and leases require manual entry of all information, and are not location-specific.

RentRedi – score 0/10:

Lease documents are created entirely offline and uploaded to the RentRedi platform. There is no integration that automatically brings information from the application into these documents, so landlords must manually transfer that data.

SparkRental – score 9/10:

Applicant and property information is automatically populated into the rental lease agreement wizard, so you don’t have to re-enter any of that manually.

Hemlane – score 9/10:

Hemlane supports online applications, and the information from that form is populated directly to state-specific residential lease agreements under the Essential and Complete memberships. However, at the Basic level landlords must transfer the applicant’s information manually to their residential lease agreements.

Can landlords and tenants sign leases remotely using electronic or digital signatures for residential lease agreements? This is particularly important and has been a common feature in the real estate industry for years. As a result, we graded the software providers on security, ease of use and any extra costs for accessing electronic signing capabilities within the software.

Avail – score 10/10:

Once you have created your residential lease agreement to your liking, invite your tenant to sign the lease with just their name and email address. Avail will walk them through the lease signing process on their end. Moreover, you can communicate with your tenants through the Avail app should they have any questions. You can also track the signing progress which can be particularly useful if you are renting to multiple people such as roommates. Once your tenants sign, Avail will notify you to sign and complete the process. Avail follows the 2000 E-sign Act so you can rest assured your newly signed electronic lease is fully legal and enforceable. Score: 10

Buildium – score 9/10:

Buildium has a partnership with Hellosign so you can collect e-signatures for every lease and addendum directly from Buildium’s software. Tenants can also sign documents easily from the device of their choice. Buildium charges $5 per document for subscribers to their Essential plan. With the Growth and Premium plans you get unlimited eSignatures.

Rentec Direct – score 10/10:

Your Rentec Direct subscription automatically comes with a HelloSign account at no additional cost. You can begin sending documents for your tenants to sign immediately, and for free. HelloSign eSignatures are valid and legally binding across the globe and are used in 188 countries around the world. HelloSign also offers industry-leading levels of eSignature enforceability. These signatures comply with the U.S. federal ESIGN Act and UETA Act, as well as many other international laws and statutes.

TenantCloud – score 9/10:

Unfortunately, TenantCloud only offers electronic lease signing to landlords who have upgraded to a paid subscription plan. E-signature allows your tenants to sign the documents in the lease using their phones or other devices. As a result, you can send, track, and manage the signing process on the go.

LeaseRunner – score 10/10:

LeaseRunner is built specifically to give landlords and tenants the ability to create and formalize rental agreements remotely. Both parties sign state-specific residential lease agreements electronically, from wherever they are. Free leases do not include e-signing.

ezLandlordForms – score 10/10:

Pro Plan residential lease agreements include ezSign, which landlords and tenants can execute from wherever they are from either a desktop or mobile device.

RentRedi – score 10/10:

The nice thing about electronic signing with RentRedi is that they have built-in identity verification. The new tenant takes a selfie with their government-issued documentation, showing that they are who they’re claiming to be. This makes sure you have your agreement signed with the correct person. Another convenient feature is that landlords can update documents through the app, and tenants also sign electronically there. You’ll get notifications through the app when documents have been completed.

SparkRental – score 10/10:

Premium residential lease agreements include electronic signing. Free downloadable documents must be signed offline.

Hemlane – score 9/10:

All document signing is done offline with the Basic, then uploaded to the platform for storage. At the Essential and Complete subscription levels all residential lease agreements are signed electronically.

Keeping costs down is vital to maintaining the profitability of our residential real estate rentals. Here are how each company stacks up on price:

Avail – score 10/10:

Surprisingly, 50-state leases are available at the free level. If you’d like to customize your lease documents or application forms you’ll need to upgrade to the Unlimited Plus plan, which runs $5/unit per month. However that subscription level also comes with free next-day electronic rent payments.

Buildium – score 5/10:

State-specific lease documents are not available through the Buildium platform. eSignatures become available at the Growth plan, which starts at $160/mo.

Rentec Direct – score 7/10:

Rentec Direct, like Buildium, partners with Hellosign to give landlords the tools to build lease templates, but does not provide state-specific lease documents. Hellosign comes with the Rentec Pro plan, which starts at $35/mo.

TenantCloud – score 8/10:

As we’ve mentioned, state-specific lease documents are not available on the TenantCloud platform. E-Signing comes with the $12/mo Starter plan.

LeaseRunner – score 9/10:

Each state-specific lease document package costs $37 if you opt for e-signing, but is free for you to use otherwise.

EzlandlordForms – score 9.5/10:

Free document packages are offered, however you’ll need to choose a subscription package if you want to build a customizable location-specific residential lease agreement with ezSign. Subscriptions cost $30 for a one-time 30-day pass, $12/mo for a renewing monthly model, $75 for one year, or $299 for a full unlimited lifetime membership.

RentRedi – score 9.5/10:

Document signing and storage are part of a standard subscription, which is required and includes a full range of property management software features. A one year subscription is $132, which works out to $9/mo.

SparkRental – score 10/10:

SparkRental does not charge any ongoing subscription fees. Therefore, the model is purely pay-for-service. Residential lease agreements that are customized and e-signed, for example, cost $19.95 each.

Hemlane – score 9/10:

Hemlane provides multiple management models, with corresponding subscription tiers. The Basic package (starting at $30 for one unit) only lets landlords upload and store their files. At the Essential level (starting at $40 for one unit), and Complete membership ($60 for one unit) state-specific lease documents as well as eviction notices are included. The differentiating factors are with other features. For example, the Complete level involves full maintenance coordination and referrals to local leasing agents.

Does the lease signing software also offer any other useful features that the others don’t? We gave bonus points for things like in-app messaging, signing checklists, and also progress tracking of documents. Platforms that build-in ID verification also receive extra points, as did those that boasted a mobile app. Read on for more details.

Avail +2:

Avail uses LocalAssist to ensure your lease is compliant with relevant rules and regulations. Throughout the lease creation and signing process you and your new tenant correspond through their messaging system, keeping the documents and communication organized in one place. Landlords and applicants communicate through the platform and receive reminders when action is required.

Buildium +1:

Buildium offers a leasing dashboard so you can track the leasing process. Know exactly who has signed and who has not. 

Rentec Direct:

N/A

TenantCloud: +1

TenantCloud has partnered with Assurant to offer renters insurance to your tenants. The lease creation process asks if you want to require tenants purchase renters insurance (we suggest that you do). In addition, if they do purchase through Assurant, it will automatically include the landlord as the “interested party” to be informed of tenant coverage changes and in the event a claim is filed.

LeaseRunner +1:

When rental agreements have been signed all parties are sent a copy. Documents are also stored electronically on the platform.

EzlandlordForms +2:

We like how many options landlords have when building residential lease agreements on ezLandlordForms. Not only are locally-required addenda and disclosures automatically included, but there is an extensive list of terms and conditions available which helps create just the right agreement for each situation.

RentRedi +2:

Landlords upload documents from within the app and applicants sign there as well, and either one can opt to do so through the desktop interface if they want to. All parties receive notices when the agreement has been completed. We also like the fact that RentRedi requires new tenants to verify their identity when they’re e-signing, by sending a photo of themselves with a government ID.

SparkRental:

We believe SparkRental’s lease building feature is very thorough and easy to use, and that there isn’t much missing. We didn’t see tools, however, beyond the criteria we set.

Hemlane +2:

Discounted legal advice is available through 3rd party services such as zipForm Plus or RocketLawyer. Reminders are sent to tenants, owners, and managers whenever action is required.

Additionally, these rules are continuing to change and evolve as housing becomes increasingly difficult to secure in many places. If you would like further legal help, you can sign up for Rocket Laywer and try their legal services free for 7 days. You can also create and purchase a state-specific residential lease agreement online.

Rocket Lawyer is an online legal service company that connects people to the legal help they need. Above all, Rocket Lawyer makes the law simple and affordable with thousands of easy-to-create legal documents, quick access to independent local attorneys, and much more.

As a member, you receive:

  • Unlimited access to all legal documents
  • Document reviews by an attorney
  • Discounts on Incorporation Services
  • Ask a Lawyer questions
  • 30-minute attorney consultations on each new legal matter
  • Up to 40% discount on attorney fees (For longer-term engagements)
  • eSigning
  • On-line dashboard and document storage
  • Rocket Lawyer makes the law simple and affordable with thousands of easy-to-create legal documents, quick access to independent local attorneys, and much more.
  • Strength: Legal Services

Download Strong Lease Forms

You can also download these popular state-specific leases and landlord-tenant guides from Nolo:

Takeaway

We have reviewed several of the top residential lease agreement software that can protect you and your property from unwanted legal action. In conclusion, we encourage you to take a look at our product overviews and decide which is right for you and your needs. You can also take a look at our comparison table below:

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links and Landlord Gurus may earn a commission. Our mission remains to provide valuable resources and information that helps landlords manage their rental properties efficiently and profitably. We link to these companies and their products because of their quality, not because of the commission.

Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

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About Chris Lee

Chris comes from a family of real estate investors, and remembers well his childhood of helping to prepare apartments between renters. He now manages his own property, apartment complexes, and condos. He has particular insight into the issues around short-term rentals as he manages those for himself and for other owners.
View all posts by Chris Lee →

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