Landlords and tenants can and should have written rental agreements; leases to set out the obligations of both sides. Because the rental of properties is highly regulated there are limits on what can be in rental agreements. There are also certain rules regarding these agreements whether they are written or not. Examples of some issues that cannot be in a rental agreement are a waiver of the tenant’s right to not be removed from the property except by order of the court, a waiver of the landlord’s obligation to keep the property in decent repair, bans on tenant’s right to have service animals, among others.
Language included in a lease that is not allowed, is not enforceable; meaning that neither party can go to court and force the other party to comply.
Some language that is always part of a lease whether it is written or not is a ban on illegal drug use in rental units.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you should have a written lease. Be sure to read it carefully before you sign it. Also keep in mind, that what you see in a lease may not mean what you think it does. Be careful when you get a lease online or from a friend because it does not automatically mean that what is in that lease, will work the way you expect it to.