A rental agreement is the document that you and your tenants will turn to when you have questions that need to be answered and conflicts that need to be resolved. Having a detailed, comprehensive lease in place will protect you from liability and communicate your expectations to your tenants. Many landlords neglect to pay close attention to their lease agreements, which can lead to legal and leasing problems.
State-Specific Rental Agreements
One big mistake is using a generic lease that isn’t specific to the state where your rental property is located. At HomeRiver Group (BMG Rentals), we perform property management in Utah as well as Idaho. It’s important to use a lease that is legally binding and enforceable in the proper state. If you’re a landlord in Utah using a California lease, you will have trouble getting it to stand up in court. Talk to a property manager or a legal expert who can give you a lease template that’s specific to your state.
Agreements Lacking Details
If your rental agreement is two pages long, you’re probably missing a lot of pertinent information. It should include all your processes, procedures, and requirements, from rent collection to security deposits to pets to move out instructions. The agreement should state what the consequences are for late rental payments, and how much notice the landlord needs to give before entering the property. Get a sample lease from a property manager so you can be sure you’re covering every necessary detail.
Signing the Agreement at Move In
A lot of property management software will allow your tenants to sign the rental agreement digitally, without really reading it. Take the time to go over the agreement with your tenants. This will take a little extra time, but it will be worth it for you to be able to discuss specifics with your tenants and answer any questions they have. You’ll know everyone is on the same page. Meet the tenants at the property before they move in so you can discuss the rental agreement and sign it together.
Avoid Illegal Provisions
Landlords cannot include anything in the rental agreement that violates federal, state, and local laws. Make sure your agreement doesn’t violate fair housing laws or require tenants to do things that you are responsible for doing as the property owner. You have to know the landlord and tenant law in your state before you put together a successful rental agreement.