6 Things to Include in Your Lease Agreements

When you’re renting out a space to new tenants, it’s important to create a solid legal foundation for your rental relationship. That’s where the lease agreement comes in. An effective and legally binding lease agreement should have certain key elements to protect the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and tenants.

1) Who’s renting the unit

Your lease agreement must list the names of all tenants—meaning every adult who will live in the rental unit—to make them all legally responsible for the terms of your agreement. That means if you’re renting to a married couple, you must name them both as tenants and have them sign the lease together. If one of them should miss a rent payment or violate the rental terms, you can take actions against either tenant.

Your agreement can also give you control over who lives in the property. Make sure it clearly states that the unit can only be occupied by the tenants who signed the lease, as well as their minor children. Tenants will have to seek your permission to sublet the unit or move in a friend or relative.

2) How long they’ll be renting the unit

If your contract is a lease, your tenants will stay for a fixed term—typically a year or more—until the lease is renewed or they move out. In the case of a rental agreement, your tenants will rent from month to month until either party decides to terminate the agreement. Either way, make sure your document clearly states the term of tenancy.

3) What they’re paying to rent the unit

Rent is an important factor in any lease agreement, but don’t forget to specify the payment method. If you prefer to be paid with a personal check, make sure it’s clear in the lease. The same goes for any late fees for overdue rent, grace periods, and charges for rent check bounces, as well as money owed for security deposits and fees.

4) The tenant’s responsibilities

Tenants can sometimes withhold rent when they believe you owe them a repair or maintenance service on their unit. You can avoid these types of conflicts by outlining their responsibilities towards the unit. For one, you can specify that tenants must keep the rental unit clean and pay for any damage caused by their own actions or neglect. You can also restrict their ability to alter the unit, like by painting or installing an alarm system, and give them specific procedures to direct their complaints and repair requests to you. Getting ahead of the problem is key.

5) Other rights and restrictions

Do you allow pets in your rental units? Does your lease agreement observe the specific laws in your state, as well as health and safety codes, anti-discrimination laws, and rent control ordinances? Does it clarify your right to access a rental property for repairs? An attorney will be able to make sure your agreement hits all of the important notes.

6) An acknowledgment clause

The acknowledgment is the clause that precedes your names, signatures, and the date. It may sound simple, but it’s what makes your lease agreement a legally binding document. Make sure you sign and date the lease along with all tenants over 18.

If you have any concerns about your rights as landlord, or if you need knowledgeable guidance for your next lease agreement, contact the law firm of Kevin Forrester. Our attorney is well-acquainted with the nuances of property management and real estate law. We will make sure your rights are fully protected.

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