A specific, well-written lease allows landlords and property managers to do their job with ease and success. It sets the expectations and rules you have for each of your tenants and keeps everyone on the same page. If your lease has been articulated correctly, you can refer to it as a guidebook whenever problems arise and keep disagreements with your tenants to a minimum. Here are a few things you should include to create a successful, easy to follow lease.
1. Names of Every Tenant
Every person over the age of 18 that lives in the apartment should be written in as a tenant and sign the lease. This makes every person there legally responsible for all items, including the full rent amount and proper use of the property. This means if one tenant violates any items on the lease, you have a right to terminate the tenancy for everyone currently occupying the premises.
2. Occupancy Limits
Be sure to specifically state that the rental property may only be lived in by those who signed the lease and their minor children. This makes it possible for you to decide who can live in the property and limit the number of occupants in each unit. This allows you to evict a tenant if they allow a friend or relative to move in for an extended period of time without your knowledge and permission.
3. Repairs and Maintenance
Making sure your tenants understand their responsibilities when it comes to maintenance and repairs is the best way to keep everyone on the same page about the security deposit. Be specific about the responsibilities they have in keeping the rental property clean and repairing any damages caused by abuse or neglect. They should also alert you if there are any dangerous conditions in the property. Lay out a detailed explanation of your procedures for handling repairs and maintenance requests, how much notice you’ll give them when entering the property, and what tenants are/aren’t allowed to change such as adding appliances, painting walls, and installing burglar alarms.
4. All Fees and Deposits
Be specific about the exact amount of rent each tenant owes every month, when it’s due, and how you’d like it to be paid. Include all acceptable payment methods, what late fees could be added if it’s not paid on time, and any charges if a check ends up bouncing. There should also be information about the exact dollar amount of the security deposit, how you’ll use the deposit (damage repair, etc), when and how you’ll return it, and any non-returnable fees that will be subtracted (such as for pets). Be sure to check your local laws to see if it’s required to include where the security deposit is being held and whether interest will be paid to the tenant or not.
5. Other Restrictions
State and local laws will determine this part of the lease, so it’s a good idea to check up on these. They may set up security deposit limits, tenant’s rights to sublet or take in additional roommates, rules for changing or ending a tenancy, and specific requirements depending on the history of the property. It’s also important to include a pet policy, parking restrictions, limits on businesses run from the rental property, restrictions on noise levels and illegal activity, as well as occupancy rules and anti-discrimination laws.