By clearly stating what is expected of tenants in the lease, you are protecting both yourself and your tenants.
Whilst it’s best to have all these clauses in your lease from the get-go if you do need to update your lease during a tenancy you can do so as long as all parties agree. Add all the required addendums in one go as supposed to constantly revisiting a lease which will give a tenant the impression of unprofessionalism. Excluding the obvious like identifying the property, the occupancy terms, the rent amount, and due date, here are 11 essential addendums to include in your lease.
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Whatever your pet policy is it needs to be clearly outlined in the lease. Pets are messy, they can cause extra damage to a property and can lower a property’s value over time. If you do decide to accept pets many landlords choose to include restrictions and things like a pet deposit and pet fees. Read more about how to set a smart pet policy here
The aroma of cigarettes is notoriously hard to get rid of especially from soft furnishings. On top of that smoking can leave a yellowish residue on walls and ceilings. This can be incredibly hard and expensive to clean up and if it goes unfixed will likely put off good tenants in the future and encourage others to smoke inside. Having a clear no-smoking clause in the lease will help prevent this issue and give you legal recourse if you do find your tenants have been smoking indoors. If you don’t have a clause in the original lease it’s perfectly legal to go back and add an addendum.
Whilst as we mentioned before the amount and due date of the rent are key to every lease. What many landlords forget to add though is how they expect rent to be collected. It’s a good idea to outline how you expect rent to be paid each month. In some states, you are legally required to give allow more than one method of payment. However, this is not to say you can’t specify in detail your preferred method. Check with your local and state laws. Read our article on the best ways to collect rent from your tenants.
Joint and several liability is an important clause to include in your lease as it means that if one or more of the tenants skip out on the rent then the remaining tenant can be held responsible for the full amount of the rent due. It essentially gives you more recourse to claim rent that is due. It also moves the responsibility for paying rent to the tenant meaning you avoid arguments as to which tenants are yet to pay. If the full amount isn’t paid then they are all in breach of contract.
This clause outlines your legal rights as to access to the tenant, essentially it should say that you are allowed entry as long as it’s during reasonable hours and with proper notice of entry. In the case of an emergency, you are allowed to enter the unit without notice. An event is considered an emergency if:
This clause balances the landlord’s right to access the property and the tenant’s right to privacy. As a landlord, you can access the property in order to:
A Use of Premises clause states a few basic rules around how the tenant is allowed to sue the property whilst in residence. For example, it would say that the property is for “residence purposes” only and not to be used as a place of business, generally, this is a sensible clause to stipulate as using a property as a place of business can increase liability and risk – for example, if they have guests or customers in the building then there is more chance that someone might get injured. Also, this clause states the property should only be occupied by people listed on the lease and who submitted an application for the property.
Subleasing used to be fairly rare. As such, there wasn’t a huge need for including specific language about it in a lease agreement. However, subletting is becoming a more popular option, especially with the rise of house sharing through companies like Airbnb. If you don’t have a subleasing clause in your original agreement, it’s probably smart to include an addendum. You can create a free sublet agreement here. If you don’t want to sublease at all, go ahead and close that door (it’s worth noting that in certain states you are legally obliged to allow subletting if it is deemed a reasonable request). However, there are many valid reasons a tenant might want to sublet, and having a clear but sublet policy can make sure it benefits both parties. Whatever your policy though it makes sense to outline it clearly in the lease. For more information on subletting read our article here.
This is a clause that essentially says that the tenant is expected to not disturb the neighbors. The volume of things like the T.V. radio of musical instruments should be at a reasonable level and the neighbors shouldn’t be able to hear any noise between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am.
The tenant should be expected to take care of the property and look after the fixtures and appliances. The unit should be kept clean and everything should be kept in good working order. The tenant will be found liable to pay for any damages found at the end of the lease. If there is a yard area that you expect the tenant to maintain then this is a good place to stipulate this too. It’s also worth mentioning that you expect tenants to keep smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in working order.
Whether it’s for another year, 6 months, or even moves on a month by month lease, having the lease automatically renew (unless the tenant decides to move out) makes it easy for both landlord and tenant. If you do include this clause make sure this is made clear to the tenant, and it’s always a good idea to ensure you remind them 90 days before the renewal date so that the tenants have the opportunity to say they don’t want to renew and make alternative living arrangements.
This is another optional clause. However, it is a useful one. If for whatever reason a tenant needs to move out before the end of the lease, perhaps they are moving for work – this clause gives them the option to buy out of their lease as opposed to being forced to sublet or pay two rents for a period. There is one exception to this rule: if a tenant is called to military service during his or her tenancy, you must comply with a lease termination within 30 days, as long as the tenant provides a written order as proof. In the case of being deployed for military duty or a permanent change of station (PCS), you can’t charge a penalty fee.
Your lease should protect tenants’ rights. Tenants have a right to:
Remember, these two important rules:
By advising tenants how they can use the property and that they are liable for maintaining a safe environment, you are protecting yourself and your tenants. To create your own custom lease head over to Rocket Lawyer here