Guide to Making a Solid Lease Agreement For Your Rental Property

Having a lease agreement for any business agreement is necessary, this includes for rental homes. A written contract is favorable to ensure mutual agreement on the details which helps keep your investment safe. If you rely on a verbal agreement, a lot of terms and conditions can be forgotten or misinterpreted.

A lease must be carefully crafted. It should contain clear and specific policies, including the rights and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord. In addition, it should encompass an outline of the disclosures and clauses as well as the signatures of the parties to the agreement.

A lease acts as a guide to your tenants. They can use it as a reference if they need to clarify the rent payment methods or their responsibilities as a renter. It’s easier to provide a written document that also functions as a manual than to spend time responding to repetitive questions.

Methods of Creating a Lease

There are a fair number of ways for landlords to create a lease. They can do it on their own, copy from a template, or hire a lawyer or a property management company. If you plan to do it by yourself, you need to be well-versed with current state laws and local regulations to ensure that the lease has legal terms and conditions.

reading a lease agreement

Now, if you simply copy from a template, you can end up with generic items. There may be conditions that won’t apply in your particular rental unit. Engaging the services of a lawyer makes sense, but this can be a costly option. Hiring a property management firm might be the best move.

A property manager has solid industry experience and a lot of experience drafting leases. In fact, it’s included as one of their many services.

Purpose of a Lease Agreement

A lease agreement can protect landlords when disputes come up. If it’s properly handled in the contract, it is easy to reduce conflicts and uphold positive relationships. If a renter files a lawsuit, the lease can also be used as proof and submitted at the court.

Basics of a Lease

Leasing agreements can differ slightly from one another depending on the property, but there are items that are uniform, such as:

  • Name of the landlord and tenants: the full names of the landlord and renters must be written down on the contract.
  • Rental property name and address: the complete rental unit name and full address must be indicated. If you have an apartment unit, the door number must also be included.
  • Rent due date: for clarity, dates must be stated in full on the lease agreement. For example, December 1, 2022. This encourages tenants to make timely payments.

someone marking dates on a calendar

  • Rent amount: both figures and words of the rental amount to be paid must appear on the contract. If there are additional fees to pay, such as a pet rent, then this must be placed in a separate category to limit confusion.
  • Rental term: the duration of the rental must be specific. For example, the rental term starts on January 1, 2023 and ends on December 31, 2023. Stating the dates in complete form eliminates vagueness and prevents misinterpretation. If you just mention a period of one year, then this can be manipulated for overstay.
  • Signatures of the parties: affixing the signature makes a leasing agreement valid. It shows that both parties comprehend the stipulated terms and conditions found on the contract.

Important Clauses and Policies to Cover in a Lease

Though the leasing agreements vary from landlord to landlord, clauses hardly differ since these are included in state laws. Here are some examples of clauses:

Subletting

Subletting means allowing a tenant to share the unit with other renters to split the rent cost. Flexible landlords can permit this but to make sure that you know the occupants of your rental, you can require a written request first.

people moving boxes into a home

Property access

Once you have renters, you can’t access the rental unit anytime. Tenants have a right to privacy. However, you need to enter the unit in order to inspect and maintain it. You must send a notice first to enter the property and it’s allowed in specific conditions only, as outlined by the state law.

Tenant Obligations

It’s generally known that landlords have more responsibility in keeping a rental well-maintained. However, renters have their duties, too and this must be stated to ensure that the tenants follow through with it.

Breaking the Lease

Landlords have the freedom to specify acceptable conditions to break a lease, but they must also observe the acceptable circumstances for lease breaking outlined under the state law, such as a tenant participating in active military duty, or a victim of domestic violence.

Tenants are also allowed to break the lease if they find themselves a subject of landlord harassment.

Security deposit

Some states may also require the landlord to inform the renter where the security deposit is kept and if it is placed in an interest-bearing account. You can also include the process of the security deposit refund so the tenants would know what to expect after their tenancy ends.

Required Disclosures

Landlords must also disclose to tenants critical information, as mandated by the state and local laws. Some of these are:

Bed Bugs

As a landlord, you should reveal the presence of bed bugs in your unit, including the steps to take for preventing it

Radon

Radon gas has a bad effect on one’s health so you must state if it exists in your rental.

Flood zone

You must send a notice to renters if your property location is prone to flooding.

Lead-based paint

If your rental was built prior to 1978, you must inform the tenant whether the structure bears lead-based paint.

paint being rolled onto a wall

Bottom line

A well-crafted lease is clear, detailed and specific. It reduces a landlord’s stress and acts as additional protection. You can follow this guide to create a solid lease or hire the expert property management team at Limestone Country Properties to make one for you.

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I've worked with Limestone Country Properties for 4 years or more. I have 2 rental homes and I wouldn't consider using anyone to lease these properties beside Limestone. They protect my interest in my property in who they lease to. I was out of town when one of my homes was being rented and they took care of everything making it a worry free vacation for me. I had full confidence that I was being protected all the way around. Limestone knows the rules and follows them to a T to protect their landlords and properties. I have nothing but good to say about them, and much praise.

Ellen Bunde