Golden Rule Lease Clause?

8 Replies

Hi BP,

We have been leasing apartments in our multi family units for a while now, but have never before seen the possible need to include a lease clause with the Golden Rule in it- treat others as you wish to be treated.  We have a clause about "use and quiet enjoyment" and one explaining that the tenant is responsible for damages done by themselves and their guests, but nothing covering how tenants and their guests should treat others in the building. 

I had one tenant put up a note asking if the other residents could either take out their trash weekly (as required by the lease) or if they would like to contact her about working together to get it down- she takes out the trash and the other residents return the cans to the house.  The notice stayed up for a week, then today she sent me a picture of the note with what had been added to it by other residents or their guests the night before- some unintelligible gibberish but also a "F___ U!"  Since this treatment of others isn't covered by my lease, the tenants of all 3 apartments have been informed that I will be adding a clause to the lease concerning treatment of others- our lease does say we can make new rules as long as they are reasonable and in writing. 

Any ideas on what the wording should be?  What other actions should I take at this point? 

Thanks in advance,


You sound like a woke millennial. That's not a good thing. Your "Golden Rule" is unenforceable. 

If a resident doesn't take out the trash as the lease specifies, then address that with the tenant. The fact that one of your tenants had to address it with the other tenants means that you failed as a landlord

Hi @Kelly N.

Nothing wrong with trying to make the tenants live peacefully with each other. The scribbles on the note were a dumb thing for them to do, but it might not have even been a tenant. You do need to enforce the weekly trash issue, but it looks like your question is more about how to prevent tenants from being mean to each other. I think that is a great that you are concerned about this but I'm not certain you can prevent it. I suggest having your property manger (or you if you don't have one) talk with the tenants and find out if there is a deeper problem. Staying in communication is one of the best things you can do as a landlord. 

To be clear, the trash issue has been addressed and handled.  The tenant who attempted to address the issue with the others was trying to work out a deal where she would take out the cans, and someone else could bring them in.  Our lease covers when the trash and recycling must be taken out, when the empties need to be brought back, and what the penalty is for failure to do so. We have always had cases where the tenants simply forget one week, and often the other residents pick up the slack, and we occasionally have cases where a tenant doesn't bother to take it out and discovers it gets handled anyways, then elects to continue to do that.  Whether it's a case of knowing that they didn't do their duty, or a case where they thought one of their roommates had taken care of it, that wasn't really the point of the topic. 

My question was whether there was a way to address tenant relations beyond noise.  My plan was that repeated infractions would result in non renewal of their lease. 

Originally posted by @Kelly N. :

My question was whether there was a way to address tenant relations beyond noise.  My plan was that repeated infractions would result in non renewal of their lease. 

Can you create a lease that requires all tenants to be nice to each other? Sure. You can create all sorts of odd lease requirements, like requiring everyone to wear mis-matched shoes on Thursdays. With the exception of harassment or an issue that creates an unhabitable environment, you do NOT want to get in the middle of tenant issues - especially personality issues. You are opening yourself up to tenant resentment and tons of financial liability if you fail to take action, take wrong action, or take the correct action against the wrong person.

A strike system like you are proposing works great... on you children. These are adults. Treat them like adults. If they create problems, address them. If they continue, non-renew them. If they are rude, ignore them. 

Thanks guys,

@Greg M. - These guys are acting like children, so it is tempting to treat them as such.  Thanks for the reminder to treat them like the adults they are supposed to be.