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Locking tenants in

Hi - Since I am a first time landlord, I had a very basic question. If I have completed credit/background/reference checks and decide I want to move forward with a prospective tenant, what protects me from the tenant walking out on me? I know that the lease agreement is the key here, and as long as both parties agree to everything in there and sign, that should be the protection. Am I correct? ALso, is just signing by both parties legally binding? or does it have to be signed in front of a notary/attorney/court, or does it have to be notarized or anything? How do I ensure that I have legal basis to respond if a tenant signs the lease agreement and does not move in at all, or vacates early?
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The lease agreement is the contract locking you and the tenant together, and the security deposit and first month's rent are your collateral. You do not need to sign in front of a notary.
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