Renting an apartment creates a legal relationship that is governed by the apartment lease, which is a legally binding contract. It is important to draft a lease that includes all of the relevant details about the rent payments, parties, and related matters so landlords and tenants know their rights clearly and can rely on the lease to guide their actions and to best protect their property.
Setting out all these terms clearly before the tenant moves in will allow everyone involve to know what they can and cannot do on the premises, when to renew the lease, whether they may have pets, and importantly, what will happen if the lease is violated and what constitutes a violation. Thus, you will know which actions or inactions could trigger legal action or penalties.
Important Lease Terms
Some of the most important terms are the payment terms. You must clearly state how much rent is due each month, where and in what form to pay it (e.g., check), and what the late penalty is.
All parties to the lease should include their names clearly at the top. This will include all the tenants and the property owner, as well as a property manager if separate from the owner, and each person’s contact information.
State any security or cleaning deposit conditions clearly. You should describe what sort of damage would result in the loss of a security deposit to avoid a dispute when the tenant leaves.
Pet policies are also important, as letting a pet on the property can generate a lot of expense for cleaning and repairs. Specify whether the tenant may have any pets, the number, and their size.
The duration of the lease must also be specified so renters will know when they must seek new housing or renew the lease. The duration is also important because eviction laws vary by state according to whether a lease is monthly or longer than one year.
Prohibitions and violations are two more areas to pay close attention to on any lease. It is best to prohibit any illegal activity on the premises, especially drug-related activity like selling or manufacturing drugs. You also probably want to prohibit anyone other than the tenants from living at the property. In its own section, it is critical to specify which actions will be considered violations of the lease, and what the owner may do if the tenant commits one of those actions, such as pursuing an eviction.
By carefully writing out each party’s rights and duties beforehand, everyone will enjoy a more secure living situation.
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