A well-written lease allows landlords to do their job with success and ease. It sets out the rules and expectations you have for each of your tenants and keeps everyone on the same page. If your lease is written well, you can refer to it as a guidebook whenever problems arise and keep disagreements to a minimum. Here are a few things you should include to make sure your lease is the best it can be.
1. Names of all Tenants
Every adult that lives in the apartment should be included as a tenant and sign the lease. This makes each 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 included in the agreement.
2. Occupancy Limits
Be sure to specifically state that the rental property can 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 without your knowledge and permission.
3. All Fees and Deposits
It’s important to 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. Be sure to include all acceptable payment methods, what late fees will be added if it’s not paid on time, and any charges if a check bounces. There should also be information about the 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 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.
4. Repairs and Maintenance
The best way to keep everyone on the same page about the security deposit is by making sure your tenants understand their responsibilities when it comes to maintenance and repairs. Be specific about the responsibility they have to keep the rental property clean and repair any damages caused by abuse or neglect and that they should alert you if there are any dangerous conditions. 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, as well as what tenants are/aren’t allowed to change such as adding appliances, painting walls, and installing burglar alarms.
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, as 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.