When renting out a property, as the landlord, you need to prepare a lease or rental agreement and have it signed by both you and the renter.
A lease guides both parties on how to navigate certain situations. It is also a binding document that lists the landlord and tenant’s duties, property policies, clauses, and disclosures. By signing it, you’ll be assured that there is a mutual understanding of the terms and conditions detailed in the contract.
What is a Lease?
A lease discusses the property policies, terms, and conditions of a rental property. It also includes legal disclosures prescribed by state laws. Further, rental procedures are included, such as the available methods of paying the rent and the process of refunding the security deposit. Tenants and landlords must comply with the contract.
What is the Purpose of a Lease?
Leases protect landlords and renters. This is because a written and signed lease is acceptable proof in legal proceedings. There may be landlords who think that crafting a written lease is unnecessary, but you can’t always count on relations with tenants to be conflict-free.
That’s why written leases can strengthen the landlord-tenant relationship since all the terms and conditions of the tenancy are clear and specific on the document. Consider hiring a property manager, where lease preparation is often part of the services rendered.
What Terms Should You Include in a Lease?
Here are essential things to include in your lease agreement:
The Tenant and Landlord’s Names and Rental Property Address
These basic details, such as the full names of the landlord and the tenant/s, should be contained in the lease. This must also include the Maryland property’s name, address, and room number if you’re renting out an apartment or condo unit.
Rental Due Date
Specific due dates of the rental payment must be on your lease agreement, to make sure that the renters pay on time. Be specific and spell out the complete date, to avoid confusion or loopholes. For example, the payment date is on December 1, 2023.
Once you set the rental price, you must include it in both written and figure format to limit misinterpretation. Write down the other fees you’ll collect in another category of the lease agreement for clarity. This ensures that you’re paid in full.
Rental Term Period
It’s advisable to spell out the full date when mentioning the rental term in the contract. The more specific, the better for all parties. For example, December 31, 2023, to December 30, 2024. It can appear vague if you only state one year or six months, allowing renters to overstay. By being specific with the start and end dates of the tenancy you can avoid issues of holdover tenants.
Signatures of All Parties
Affixing the signature of both parties is crucial since it signifies that both parties are in full agreement with the leasing terms and conditions. If you make amendments to the lease, make sure to have those signed off on as well.
Essential Clauses and Policies that Should Appear in Your Lease
Policies may differ for every rental property, but certain clauses will be similar since they should comply with state laws. Here are clauses to consider including in your leasing:
It’s vital to be clear about whether or not you allow the renters to sublet. Subleasing a property means permitting a tenant to split the rent payment by accepting other renters. If this is not an issue, then a landlord may require a renter to submit a written request first before taking in a new renter.
Rights and Responsibilities of the Tenant
Even if landlords have a bulk of the responsibility in providing a habitable rental unit, renters share in this duty by limiting property damage, discarding trash properly, and maintaining peace and quiet in the vicinity. These shared duties should be clearly stated in the lease.
Rights and Duties of the Landlord
This is the section where the landlord’s responsibilities are outlined. Among them is keeping a habitable rental unit. It also includes details of when a landlord can access the property, such as for repairs and property inspections.
Termination of the Lease
Even if breaking leases is discouraged, there are situations where it’s legally permitted, such as in the event of landlord harassment, if the tenant is called to active military duty, or if they experience domestic violence.
If renters are forced to relocate from their jobs, this is not seen as a valid reason for early lease termination, so this must be clearly stated in the leasing agreement.
Security deposits are normally required by landlords but some states stipulate that the renter must be informed where the deposit is stored and if it’s placed in an interest-drawing account. As a landlord, you must be familiar with your state laws to ensure you remain compliant.
Security deposits help to motivate renters to limit property damage. But deductions must not be taken from it when the cause of the damage is from normal wear and tear.
Laws dictate that landlords must disclose certain information to the renters. Some of the disclosures include if the property is in a flood zone area, has bed bugs, is exposed to radon, and/ or has the potential risk of lead-based paint.
A detailed lease agreement may require effort, but it helps protect the landlord and minimize conflict. It can also guide renters on property policies and procedures, helping landlords save a lot of time from repeat questions.
If you’d like help crafting a lease and managing your rentals, consider partnering with a property management company. If you’re looking for a trusted property manager, contact American Dream Realty & Management today!