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Posted over 6 years ago

7 Things to Include in a Rental Lease Agreement

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Zillow has been sending me more e-mails lately. Houses for sale nearby. Estimated values of our properties. Articles.

This article, 7 Things to Include in a Rental Lease Agreement, caught my attention.

It has a lot of basic stuff, but it triggered some thoughts.

PROPERTY ADDRESS. I once read that there was a dispute about what property was actually rented, so I was including the legal description of the property in the rental agreement. I decided that was too nitpicky and no longer do that.

SECURITY DEPOSIT. One of the best pieces of advice I received was to not itemize out the different deposits. You want to be able to use all funds for any legal needs, not only be able to use the pet deposit on pet damage. Explain to the tenant how you got to the amount, but just include one general deposit in the lease, if your tenant-landlord law allows it.

Additional tips that weren’t in the article:

OCCUPANTS. List out all authorized occupants, or any age, the process to change occupants if desired, and include a strong guest policy, limiting the consecutive or total days without written permission from the landlord.

PRIMARY TENANT. Name one tenant as primary, the one who will be the focal if they break up. Make it clear from the start. If both tenants are equal in your mind, let them choose the focal. Our clause: In the event that Tenants decide they no longer want to live together, ___________ will be considered the primary Tenant to make decisions about modifying or terminating tenancy. Deposits will not be returned (full or partial) until all tenants move out.

ABANDONMENT. If there is only one adult living in the unit, have them designate someone to work with if they become incapacitated. Our clause: In the event of abandonment, arrest or death, the following person has the authority to decide when to terminate tenancy and how to store/distribute my belongings:

Name: ____________________________________________________

Address: ____________________________________________________

Phone #: ____________________________________________________

DUTY TO REPORT. Make it clear that the tenant needs to let you know about issues with the property. Our clause: Report all plumbing/roof/water leaks, and all mold, code, and other hazardous conditions to landlord/agent within 48 hours to avoid charges for presumptive damages and/or increased utility cost caused by lack of timely reporting to landlord.

SPELL OUT UNWANTED BEHAVIOR. With low income properties, we have a long list of expectations. Here’s a few to think about. No fireworks of any kind. Not install a swimming pool or any other water feature where the water is eighteen or more inches deep. No trampolines. No parking of non-operating vehicles on the property. This is a balance of peace of mind for the landlord and freedom for the tenant. Include the items where you see the most risk.