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7 Crucial Things to Include in the Residential Lease When Renting Out a Property

By Jamie Richardson | July 7, 2021

New landlords can often become overwhelmed with the list of tasks they need to complete and laws they must research before preparing their property for tenancy. One of the often-overlooked renting essentials is the contract or rental lease. While landlords will have a document that a tenant must sign before moving in, some terms are often missed.

Make it Easy by Using a Template Residential Lease Agreement

When drafting a contract, you need to consider whether or not it’s legally binding. However, hiring a lawyer to create a document covering all your bases can be expensive, and doing this yourself can be time-consuming. Instead, create a lease agreement in minutes by using a custom template from FormPros, which is both inexpensive, secure, and legally binding.  

What to Include in Your Tenant Lease Agreement

A lease agreement can be as short as a page and as long as a pamphlet, but as long as you include the following terms, you’ll avoid most legal complications from the state and renter.

1. Name of All Tenants and Premises Information

In this section, include the property address and the names of every adult that lives on the property. Each tenant needs to sign the document, as that holds them liable for rent and the other stipulations declared by you on the agreement. Take the time to read out the consequences upon move-in if a situation does occur and allow the tenants to ask questions.

2. Occupancy Limits and Restrictions

By The Building Officials and Code Administrators and Fair Housing Act laws, you can rent out to at least one person if the rental is at least 150 square feet. You can add one more occupant for every extra 100 square feet your unit possesses. There are exceptions to these rules, but most states will require you to adhere to these rules for the safety of the tenants. 

3. Term of Tenancy

All rental documents should state if the tenant is signing a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Rental agreements are paid monthly, while leases are paid yearly. Include whether the occupant will stay short or long-term or whether or not the contract will renew at each period.

4. Rent Stipulations

In the agreement, specify the amount of rent due, when it’s due, and how it’s paid. To avoid confusion from the client, be specific. Outline precisely, to the cent, how much the property is per month and whether they can pay via debit, credit, or personal check. State that repeated late payments or uncollected rent (for three months, for example) would be grounds for eviction.

5. Deposits and Fees

Security deposits are often required to rent, but you need to understand your state laws to ensure you’re not under or overcharging. Most states require half to an entire first month’s rent upfront and documentation for how that money will be spent. Upon termination of the contract, you can use that deposit to repair the unit if the damage exceeds the deposit. Outline which of these fees is returnable. Typically, a damage deposit will return to the tenant. 

6. House Rules and Paperwork

Include rules the tenant must follow to avoid eviction. Most of these house rules will outline existing state laws, like excessive noise or the use of illegal substances, but you can include your own as long as they don’t infringe on your tenants' rights. You may want to include an emergency plan map, emergency numbers, schedule for trash and recycling pickup, etc. 

7. Maintenance and Repairs

Landlords must maintain the property according to property standards, which includes preventing pest infestations, maintaining lands, and changing air filters. However, the tenant also has to take care of their unit. Note which appliances or features of the unit are the tenants' or clients' responsibility to fix, your expectations for alterations, and move-out procedures. 

Jamie is a 5-year freelance writer who enjoys real estate. He is currently a Realty Biz News Contributor.
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