Custom lease vs basic lease + addendums?

4 Replies

I close in just over a week on my first rental house. I've read on the forums for a while and I've kept a list of lines I want to add to my lease to avoid various problems. Should I work with with a local attorney to create a custom lease or use a basic TN lease that I downloaded from the realtor's association website and have everything else as addendums? Are there any pros/cons doing it one way vs the other? I was leaning toward using a local attorney but after reading some tonight, it has me wondering if I should go the other route. 

I think I'm starting to do too much research. :)

The simpler the lease the better.  And what are you referring to as far as "everything else" beyond a normal standard lease?  And would a normal tenant be willing to sign them?

Remember, the landlord business is first and foremost a "people" business.  Think in terms of would you sign whatever it is you want a tenant to sign?

Tenants have options.  They are not serfs.  If you put a bunch of addenda in front of them, they may just run the other way.

So, would you be okay with all of the forms and rules, etc., you are planning on presenting?  Seriously think about that.  Then look at your competition.

If a good tenant can go somewhere else where they won't ask for all of the addenda you are proposing, all you will be left with are tenants who will sign ANYTHING in order to get into a property.  

In other words, all of your addenda may just result in you shooting yourself in the foot.

We use a standard lease (4 pages) plus addenda (7 pages).  The addenda includes anything that might come up in tenancy- no water beds or floor safes, no painting, quiet hours, when trash day is, where to park, don't change locks, etc. 

 I started with a lease and addenda from a local property manager, then have been adding things as I learn from my tenants.  There is also a page they sign that says they are out in 24 hours if there is any drug activity, and another stating if they want to grow their own medical marijuana (legal here) then they have to get their own liability insurance.

Things I added include that the tenant is responsible for replacing light bulbs within their unit, they are responsible for clogged drains and my use drano, replacing a missing smoke detector will be $50, no flushing things other than human waste and toilet paper- no flushable wipes specifically.  I don't consider any of the addenda as over strict, just things a tenant might think are ok that aren't, so we have something to refer to if there ever is a problem.  And yes, I had a tenant insist I should be replacing his light bulbs.

I added a clause about early termination to the lease and will be adding clauses concerning holdover tenancy.  We almost had a situation with old tenants not vacating on time and new tenants due to move in, and with the leases I received with our newest purchase this situation was covered.


Thanks for the responses. @Kelly N. , that's the exact things I'm looking at including. I wasn't sure if I needed to include those smaller things in the actual lease or as the addendum. Thanks again!

I would use the lease that has been "blessed" by the Realtor association and then add anything else you need as an addendum.  The local courts are going to be used to seeing the Realtor lease, and already know how to interpret it.  If you draw up your own, you're going to have to hope that a judge is actually going to read it and that they will interpret any ambiguities in your favor.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here