What Happens If Your Landlord Lost Your Lease Agreement? (Find Out Now!)

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

When you move into a new rental property the most important exchange between your landlord is not the keys, but the lease. Although your keys are needed to get into your new home it is the lease that makes it legal for you to enter.

A lease is a legal document that dictates the terms of your rental agreement. It is important to keep your signed lease in a safe place. You may wonder what your rights are when you find out your landlord has lost your lease.

If your landlord loses your lease remember that your lease is still an existing legal agreement. Your landlord may have means of obtaining an additional copy. He or she may ask if you have a copy he may have. If you both lose the lease and no copies exist you will both need to create and sign a new rental agreement.

Why You Need Your Lease

When you discover your landlord has lost your lease, you should first consider what is on a lease. It is also important to understand why having a copy of your lease is important.

Lease Length And Terms

One of the most critical details found in a lease agreement is the length of time it is effective. The timing of the lease signals when the lease will either need to be removed or ended. If you lose your lease this means you may not know when you are obligated to renew your lease or move out.

Rent Payment

Another important detail in a lease is the rent amount. Your rental payment may feel like second nature. It is likely a number you have memory of. It is within the lease, however, that the rental terms and amount are legally bindings.

What Is Included in Your Lease

Your lease also includes vital information in regards to what exactly is included in your rental agreement. This can include areas of the property that are yours to use. It also includes what utilities are included in the apartment and what is at the expense of the tenant.

Why Your Landlord Needs Your Lease

It is critical for you to have a copy of your lease for a reference of important information. The landlord also needs a copy of the lease.


A rental agreement is a great accountability tool. A landlord can use a lease to map and detail a list of expectations and rules the tenant must follow. Once the tenant signs the lease the landlord is able to enforce these rules. If a tenant is in violation of a rule all a landlord must do is point out the lease agreement and how the tenant is violating it.


The lease often dictates the exact payment method and time restrictions in regards to rental payments. A lease can prohibit certain forms of payment and it can institute late fees when rent is paid late.


Landlords often include certain deadlines in regards to payments, utilities, and tenancy agreements in general. The lease, in addition to being a legally-binding rulebook, is also a timeline of sorts. Without a lease, the landlord may not even know when your agreement expires.

When Your Landlord Loses The Lease

If you discover your landlord has lost your lease you may have a moment where you feel like the lease no longer exists. You might even think you can do whatever you want. This, of course, is wishful thinking and not exactly the reality.

Losing the lease may cause the landlord some headaches. However, as long as you are living on his property there is still some form of agreement in effect. It will definitely make it more difficult for the landlord to enforce specific details found in the lease at times. Still, the lease terms are in effect as long as a lease exists in your or someone else’s possession.

Lease Terms Still Matter

If your landlord has lost his copy of the lease but a copy still exists, you should still be sure to follow the terms of the lease. Rent payments are easily trackable. It is also unlikely your landlord forgot how much you owe and when you owe it.

Your landlord can also likely trace back to when your lease began. If it is a one or two year lease he or she can easily deduce when your lease will renew. Your landlord can use this opportunity to draw up a new lease. At this point he or she will likely make sure to have multiple copies on file so the document is not lost again.

If you decide to break the lease terms because you know your landlord lost the lease, be aware that your landlord can still hold you accountable. It may cost your landlord time and money, but just because the lease is lost does not mean the rules no longer apply to you.

You Can Still Be Evicted

Just because your landlord loses the lease does not mean you can not still be evicted. This is particularly true if you are flagrantly violating the lease or the law.

Are You Breaking The Law?

If there is flagrant and dangerous illegal activity occurring within your home and your landlord catches wind of it, you can likely face eviction. If the illegal activity violates laws and most rental guidelines then your landlord may not need to work too hard to begin the eviction process. It may require the help of a lawyer, but be aware that a lost lease does not mean a landlord cannot protect his home within reason.

Did You Stop Paying Rent?

Rental payments are easily traced through bank accounts. If you stop paying rent that is normally paid monthly, this is a red flag. Be sure you do not simply stop paying rent just because your landlord lost the lease.

If You Both Lost Lease

If you and the landlord have both lost the lease, the most logical step to take is create a new rental agreement.

New Lease

The first step your landlord should take when you both lose the lease is to draft a new rental agreement. This new lease may be an exact replica of the old one or perhaps completely different. When your landlord issues you a new lease, be sure to read it carefully for any new terms.

Pay attention to when the lease ends, as it is important you do not sign a lease for longer than you intended simply because you lost your copy. You also want to ensure your lease does not end earlier than the original lease stated.

Meet With Landlord

If you and your landlord have both lost your copies of the lease you should meet in order to sign a new agreed upon document. Once you both sign and receive copies of the document be sure to make your own copy. Learn from your first mistake and be sure to keep the original copy of your signed lease in a safe location.

Related Questions

If I Lose My Lease Will My Landlord Give Me A New Copy?

If you lose your original lease agreement you should reach out to your landlord. In some circumstances, your landlord is obligated to provide you with a new copy of the lease. In most cases, the landlord should take no issue providing you with an additional copy. After all, remember your landlord wants you to follow the lease, which is hard to do if you do not have a copy.If your landlord does not respond to your original request for a copy of your lease you should send him an official letter. Once you send the letter, look up the lease laws in your state to know exactly what his or her obligations are.

Does A Picture Of My Lease Count As A Copy?

A picture of your lease agreement can be a helpful tool if you happen to lose your actual lease. A JPEG file can be a great way for you to keep your lease terms handy as well. If you lose your lease but have a photo you will be able to know all the lease terms. This will be helpful if you have a dispute with your landlord but lost your original lease.Keep in mind that a photo likely may not hold up as an official court document. Always do you best to keep the original copy with signatures in a safe place in case it is needed for court purposes.

Can My Landlord Evict Me If I Lose My Lease?

Your landlord cannot evict you simply because you lost your copy of the lease agreement. If you have lost your copy of the lease, however, it may be difficult to know if your landlord is evicting you legally. Your landlord can still evict you for lease violations.  If he is accusing you of violating the lease you may find it difficult to prove him wrong. If this occurs you can always ask your landlord to provide you with exactly what verbiage in the lease you are violating and hope he provides you with the document itself.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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