Misplacing a copy of your rental agreement or lease is a common occurrence; it's a boring read and you have a lot of fine print to digest. You may never really need the lease until you have a dispute and you need to press your point in a simple negotiation, courtroom or mediator's office. The best time to get a copy of the lease is immediately after you both sign to ensure that no changes are made without your knowledge. If you lose your copy, it's important to get a replacement copy of the lease from your landlord; it outlines the legal responsibilities between you and the landlord.
Write the landlord a letter requesting a copy of your lease agreement on a piece of stationery. Ensure that your name and address appear legibly on the letter. Offer to reimburse the landlord for the photocopies and stamp. Request that it be delivered in a reasonable time frame, such as three to 10 business days. Keep a copy of the letter of request for your records.
Mail the letter by USPS Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. The landlord must sign for the letter, and you'll have a proof that the letter was received. This may be necessary to prove to a judge that you earnestly requested a copy of your lease.
Follow up with a phone call if you do not hear from the landlord. A landlord who does not provide his tenant with a copy of his lease will be in an unfavorable position if he has to answer to a judge.
Find out how long the landlord has to comply, then call a local tenants' rights organization if the time has elapsed and you still don't have a copy. Landlord tenant laws vary by state. In California, for instance, CA Civil Code 1962 provides that the landlord must give a copy of the lease agreement to the tenant within 15 days of signing, and a copy given once each calendar year if requested by the tenant.