Deciding what to include in the lease document can be tricky, but taking the time to make sure you cover all your bases will help keep you and your property protected. If you include these 10 must-haves in every lease, then you – and your tenants – will have clear expectations about your agreements from the start.
Every lease agreement should have basic clauses that are common across rental properties. We suggest including these clauses, but we also encourage you to check with your attorney to make sure you’re in compliance with all local, state and federal regulations.
10 must-haves for every lease
- Identify tenants. A lease is a contract and should identify the parties to the contract, i.e. the landlord (or landlord’s agent) and the tenant, or tenants. In the lease, identify every person living on the property.
- Identify the property, and include the address. This one is so obvious, it’s actually easy to overlook!
- The term of the lease and renewal. How long is the lease active? What happens when the initial term expires? Include the date the lease is effective and the termination date.
- The rental amount. Make sure to state the full amount of rent due for the duration of the lease. For example, $12,000 for 12 months, paid at $1,000 per month.
- Deposits and fees. Outline which are refundable and which aren’t. Typically, a deposit, like a security deposit, is refundable. A fee, like a cleaning or pet fee, is not. Outline what terms the tenant needs to meet for a full deposit refund. It’s helpful to include an addendum to the lease that details how much you will deduct for certain damages and replacements.
- Pet policy. Man’s best friend has come to include a lot of critters besides the occasional dog or cat. If you allow pets, be specific about what you do and do not allow. Include types of animal, weight limits, and the number of animals. Detail the specifics of extra deposits or fees required for pets, and other rules like indoor or outdoor, pet noise, or leash-laws.
- Tenant responsibilities. General upkeep can prolong the life of your home and save you from incurring big expenses. Therefore, you may ask that your tenants handle some routine upkeep. For example, require proof that the tenant changes the air filter regularly. Also, have your tenants keep the roof and gutters clear of leaves to avoid water damage to the home’s exterior and interior. At Greyhaven, we send tenants seasonal letters reminding them of things they can do to lower utility costs and better maintain their homes.
- Repairs and maintenance. Outline the procedure to request repairs and set expectations for emergency and non-emergency situations. Also include information about your access to the property and how much advance notice you’ll provide. Additionally, clearly state that the tenant is responsible for repairing damage they cause to the property, or for paying to return it to its original state. For example, if their children draw on the walls, the tenants are responsible for the cost of repainting.
- Lawn care and other services. Do you expect your tenant to keep the lawn and shrubs trimmed, or will you? Will you provide pest-control services? Spell out in the lease anything you will provide or that the tenant is obligated to perform.
- Is it flushable? Specifically state what can be flushed in the toilet. You’d be surprised what tenants try to flush! If it hasn’t been stated clearly, and the plumbing gets clogged, you’ll have to pay to have that sandwich or diaper cleared.
A quality, legally-binding, lease is one of the best protections you have to make sure your investment is properly cared for. This list of lease musts is not comprehensive but will help you cover concerns you may not have considered yet. For a more complete list, contact your attorney or enlist the help of an experienced local property manager.
Need Help With Your Lease Agreement? Contact Greyhaven.
Contact our Chattanooga property managers today at 423-648-6676 to learn more about lease musts and our hassle-free property management services.