A rental agreement is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. It’s a legal document written by the landlord. It is to define the relationship between himself and the tenant.
Why Should You Have a Rental Agreement?
A rental agreement contains rules stipulated by the landlord which tenants agree to follow. It’s important due to the following:
- Shows that you are a serious landlord
- States you and your tenants’ obligations.
- Allows you to set boundaries for your tenants.
- Helps you to claim possession of your property when the need arises.
What Should You Include in a Rental Agreement?
For you to enjoy the benefits and protection provided by the rental agreement, you should include the following terms and/or clauses:
Names of All Tenants in Your Rental Agreement
Besides the main tenant, every adult above the age of 18 residing in the rental property is a tenant. They will provide their contact information, such as phone numbers and emails, and sign the rental agreement.
Moreover, this will guarantee that all adults living in your property are legally responsible and obligated to abide by the terms of the agreement. It implies that you can terminate the rental agreement of all tenants if any of the adult occupants violate the terms.
In addition, you can include an occupancy clause declaring that only the tenants and their minor children have the authorization to reside in the property. The length of stay for guests can also be stated. Alter an occupancy limit to control the number of occupants in your property.
Description of the Rental Property
You need to provide the necessary description of your property. In other words, the address and type of property must be included. Parking spots, storage area, number of bedrooms, or bathrooms are additional, optional information.
Term of Tenancy
It should be pointed out whether it’s a rental or lease agreement. A rental agreement is a month-to-month agreement. It’s automatically renewed unless terminated by the landlord or tenant.
A lease agreement prevails for a fixed term, usually one year. It has options for renewal. When writing the term of the tenancy, however, note the start date, tenancy length and expiration date.
The rental price should be well-detailed by including the amount, due date, acceptable methods of payment and grace period (if any). Additionally, if late fees are applicable, specify the amount and the duration before the late fee applies. This will help to avoid confusion.
Security Deposits and Fees
The security deposit term should include:
- The amount of security deposit collected.
- The date it was collected.
- The name and address of the bank where it’s held.
- The interest rate (include whether it will be paid to the tenant).
- Procedures for returning the security deposit.
- Reasons deductions can be made from the deposit.
Any legal, non-refundable fee should be explained, such as cleaning and repairs.
Repairs and Maintenance
You and your tenants should have specific maintenance obligations explained in clear terms. In the rental agreement, outline your expectations from your tenants.
For instance, the maintenance responsibilities of your tenants may include cleaning, changing air filters within HVAC, watering and mowing of the lawn.
You can also explain which party will be responsible for repairs like washing machines, HVAC, nail holes and painting.
As part of the terms, you should obligate your tenants to inform you of any repairs to be done on the rental property.
Right of Entry
In your rental agreement, specify the conditions in which you can enter the rental property. This will prevent tenants from claiming infringement on privacy rights or illegal entry.
Therefore, be sure to confirm with your state’s landlord access law in case the policy is different.
Damage to Premises and Alteration to Rental Property
In your rental agreement, indicate who is responsible for damages to the rental property. Moreover, your rental agreement should specify the type of alterations your tenants can make on the rental property and when your approval or permission should be required.
Rules and Policies
Disruptive behaviors and illegal activities should be listed as prohibited in your rental agreement. It should be clarified that such behaviors or activities warrant termination of the rental agreement. For instance, disruptive activities can include excessive noise, fighting and failure to control loud dogs.
List illegal drug dealings and other illegal acts recognized by the state, among the prohibitions in your rental property.
- If pets are allowed, this should be stated in your rental agreement. Also, specify the type and the maximum number of pets allowed.
- Allowing tenants to smoke or not should be stated clearly on the rental agreement.
- In the rental agreement, clarify if tenants can assign or sublet their premises.
- Include the minimum age for a tenant.
Rules and policies will limit your potential liability from residents and neighbors. Contact your state and local laws for other restrictions to list on your rental agreement. Furthermore, ensure that your rules and policies do not violate the state and local laws.
Landlord and Tenants Signatures
The rental agreement is worthless if it’s not signed by your tenants. The landlord or property manager must also sign and date the rental agreement.
Furthermore, the signed copy of the rental agreement must be kept by both the landlord and the tenants for record purposes.
Include the contact information of the landlord or property managers in the rental agreement. Your tenants may contact you to give notice of termination of tenancy, payments or to request for repairs.
Record or save all your communications with your tenant. You may need to produce it as evidence.
You must consult the local and state laws. This is to ensure that the terms in your rental agreement comply with the legal requirements of the state.
Moreover, include a severability clause in your rental agreement. There’s a possibility that some terms in your rental agreement don’t comply with the state laws. In this case, a severability clause will protect the remainder of the agreement from being declared invalid.
Contact OmniKey Realty for all your property management needs and questions.