A lease is one of the most important documents a landlord needs to handle. It’s the foundation on which you build your business, it protects you from the misuse of your property, and it sets the rules and guidelines for your tenants’ stay. A well-crafted lease is so much more than a legal contract. It’s also a roadmap for you and your tenants to follow if and when the unexpected strikes. But how do you expect the unexpected when sitting down to craft a document that will provide the guidance and protection you and your tenants need? An excellent place to start is by making sure you include these critical lease items.
The Terms of Your Lease
Including the terms of your lease ensures that you and your tenants both know how long they’re expecting to stay. This might seem basic, but it can have a far-reaching impact on your business in cases when you or your tenants need to change or terminate the agreement. Specify whether your lease describes a rental agreement, in which a tenant will pay month by month, or a rental lease that extends for a longer period, usually twelve months.
If you or your tenant need to end the leasing agreement early, you’ll need to know the terms of the lease to determine how to move forward. A tenant who needs to move out before the end of the lease may be breaking the terms of the lease to do so. In almost every circumstance, a landlord cannot terminate a lease before its stated end except for nonpayment of rent or other severe breaches in the agreement.
Accurate Tenant Information
You must list the legal names of each adult in your rental unit to fully protect yourself from breaches in your lease. Otherwise, you may not be able to legally hold an unlisted tenant responsible for paying rent or damages they cause to your property. Each person must be listed as a tenant in the lease and sign it themselves. If you have two adults living in your unit but only one tenant on the lease, you won’t be able to pursue rent collection from anyone other than the person on the lease.
One of the most crucial items in a lease is the rent payments. Your lease should be very clear about how much rent is due and the additional cost of any utilities, parking, or other fees if applicable. A strong lease must also specify when the rent is due and how you prefer tenants to pay, such as by check or digital deposit. You should also include information on the penalties if your tenant is late on their rent.
You never want to end up in a situation where your tenant has “guests” move in for an indefinite amount of time, functionally adding people to the lease who cannot be held accountable for rent or damages. If you don’t specify that the only people who reside on your property are the adults on your lease, you won’t be able to screen new residents who may cause significant problems on your property. Whether your tenant wants to get a new roommate or move their partner in, you want to make sure that you as the property owner have a say in who stays in your rental.
You should also be clear to specify policies on any furry friends occupying the unit. Be sure your lease makes it clear what kinds of pets your tenants are allowed to keep and whether or not you will charge them a deposit or pet rent.
Deposits and Fees
Unexpected fees can cause a lot of friction between landlords and tenants. No renter wants to feel like they’re being slapped with surprise costs when they don’t have a say in the matter. Clarifying what deposits and fees your tenant will be responsible for upfront in the lease is a good step towards fostering a positive relationship with your renters. Go into as much detail as possible about what situations might entitle you to charge your renter additional money throughout the lease. You should also specify whether a deposit is refundable or not, and the circumstances in which you will (or will not) refund it.
Damage, Maintenance, and Repairs
Your lease must make it clear whether you or your tenants are responsible for maintenance or repairs. In cases when a repair is necessary, confusion about who needs to address it can result in frustration and additional damages. In most cases, you’ll want to clarify that your tenants have the responsibility of keeping the unit clean and hygienic, while you will take the lead on any maintenance or repairs that require the intervention of a handyman or other contractor.
Right of Entry
Last but far from least, it’s crucial to establish the terms that you can enter your rental unit. Violation of privacy rights ensures that your tenant may be able to press charges if you enter the unit under unjust or inappropriate circumstances. Your lease should define the circumstances in which you’ll enter the unit, but you should also be sure to check local and state property laws for additional restrictions before writing this part of your lease.
A Good Lease Is Hard To Find
Writing a solid lease is the first and most important step of any rental partnership. It’s little surprise that with so much riding on the quality of a lease, so many landlords find it stressful to create a good one. Each rental unit is different, and you should tailor each lease to fit the unit’s individual needs. Rather than wrestling with generic templates and stressing about getting the wording just right, have you considered signing on with a property management company?
Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew has years of experience writing top-quality leases in the Portland area. We know that each property has its own unique needs and individual quirks, and approach each of our leases with the highest standards of clarity and diligence. When working with us, you know that your property and interests aren’t left vulnerable by improper wording or a missing clause. To talk to us about how we can make your rental experience a breeze, call or text us anytime at (503) 515-3170 or reach out through our website.