A lease or rental agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship. There are specific lease terms that should be in every agreement you create or sign to help protect the landlord and the person renting. Here are the top ten lease terms you should have when renting.
It's crucial to get the name of every adult living in the rental unit on the lease. By getting every tenant's signature, each tenant becomes fully responsible for all of the terms of the lease. This means you can collect the full rent from any one of the renters, as well as terminate the entire lease if one of the tenants violates material terms of the lease.
Spell out exactly how much is due for the month's rent. Don't forget to include:
The proper terminology depends on the state you live in and local laws, but generally:
It helps to be specific about the time period. Otherwise, you may find your agreement is defined by the common law of your state (which often has unfavorable terms). Set a definite end date, or a deadline for the renter to continue their lease at the rental property.
Security deposits and extra fees are two of the most commonly disputed items between landlord/property managers and tenants. In addition to defining the amount of the deposit, also include:
Security deposits are governed by state laws, which typically define maximum amounts and time periods for returning the deposit. Check your state's landlord-tenant law before drafting your rental agreement.
Spell out exactly when and under what conditions the landlord can enter the tenant's unit. State law regulates how and when a landlord can enter a tenant's property, so be sure your lease terms comply with state law. Most require proper notice in writing, at least 24 hours in advance.
Both the landlord and tenant have responsibilities to maintain the premises. Spell out the obligations of both parties. Tenants typically have a duty to:
Landlords usually have a responsibility to:
In the lease, you should make it clear that the tenant must contact the landlord for repairs as soon as they become aware of a problem. The tenant should have contact information to ensure that repairs can be completed quickly and in a cost-effective manner.
Ensure that your agreement specifies that only people who have signed the lease (and their minor children) can legally live on the property. This prevents tenants from moving their relatives and friends in or subletting without permission. It also gives the landlord grounds to terminate the agreement if the tenant does not comply.
Specify whether the property allows pets at all and if so, carefully spell out:
Restrict specific disruptive and illegal activity from your tenants. If you don't, your other tenants may have justifiable grounds for terminating their agreements based on that tenant's offensive behavior. To prevent this, spell out all unacceptable behavior, such as:
Tell prospective tenants these actions are prohibited and are grounds for terminating the agreement and facing eviction.
State law will define many other terms that should be included in your lease or rental agreement. Typical things that states require include:
Writing out a landlord-tenant contract can be tedious and time-consuming. While you could use boilerplate language you find on the internet, why take the risk? Contact an experienced landlord-tenant attorney. They can help you carefully craft your lease agreement to make sure it is legally binding.