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Details About Signing the Lease

A lease is the legal agreement, or contract, between the landlord and tenant, which spells out both parties rights and responsibilities, and allows the tenant to use the property for a specified period of time. Also specified on the lease are the rules and regulations, the length of the tenancy, the rental amount, and all important terms and conditions.

The lease, aside from tenant screening, is the most crucial moment of the business relationship. At this time, when both parties discuss their concerns, obligations and anything else relevant. All points in the lease should be gone through together, putting extra emphasis on the most important topics. Always highlight the length of the lease, as well as, any underlying terms and conditions. Before turning over your valuable possession, make sure the tenant(s) understand the lease and agree to all aspects.

Terms To Include in a Lease

A lease agreement sets out the rules and regulations that landlords and tenants agree to follow in their business relationship. Important details include how long the tenant can occupy the property for and the amount of rent that will be due each month. Whether the lease agreement is as short as one page or longer than five, typed or handwritten, it must always cover the basic conditions of the tenancy. The most important items to cover, are listed below.

Names of Tenants.
Every adult who is taken into consideration for responsibility of the rental unit should be named as tenants and sign the lease agreement. This makes each tenant legally responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent and the proper use of the property. A landlord can then legally seek the entire rent from any one, if others skip out or are unable to pay. If one tenant breaches an important term of the agreement, you can terminate the tenancy for all tenants.

Limits on Occupancy.
The agreement should clearly state that the rental unit is the residence of only the tenants who have signed the lease and their minor children, if any. This guarantees your right to determine who lives in your property and to limit the number of tenants. This clause will give you grounds to evict a tenant who allows someone to move in, without your permission.

Term of the Tenancy.
Every agreement should state whether it is a month-to-month or a fixed-term lease. Rental agreements usually run from month-to-month and self-renew unless terminated by either party. Leases, on the other hand, last for a specific period of time.

Repairs and Maintenance.
Clearly set out the landlord and the tenant's responsibilities for repair and maintenance in your lease agreement before the tenancy begins. Some responsibilities of the tenants includes keeping the premises clean, and to pay for any damages caused by them. They must also alert you to defective or dangerous conditions in the rental property by giving you specific details on procedures for handling the requests. Nothing is to be installed without the landlordís permission.

Deposits and Fees.
The use and return of security deposits is a frequent source of friction between landlords and tenants. To avoid confusion and legal hassles, your lease agreement should be clear on the dollar amount of the deposit, when and how it will be used, how it will be returned at the end of the tenancy and if there will be any deductions for repairs, as well as any non-refundable fees that will be charged.

It's also a good idea to include details on where the security deposit is being held and whether interest on the security deposit will be paid to the tenant.

Your lease agreement should specify the amount of rent to be given, when it will be due, and how it is to be paid. To avoid common disputes with tenants, spell out details clearly. Details can include what acceptable payment methods are, whether late fees will be charged, and if there are any charges when a cheque bounces.

Entry to Rental Property.
To avoid tenant claims of illegal entry or violation of privacy rights, your agreement should clarify your legal right of access to the property and state how much advance notice will be provided. Pets. Whatever you preference for pets may be, be sure to state it clearly on the agreement. If you donít allow pets, make sure the tenant knows that. If you do allow pets, you should identify any special restrictions, such as a limit on the size or number of pets or a requirement that the tenant will keep the yard free of all animal waste.

Illegal Activity Restrictions.
To avoid trouble among your tenants, prevent property damage, and limit your exposure to lawsuits from anyone in the surrounding area, you should include an explicit clause prohibiting disruptive behavior, such as excessive noise, and illegal activity, such as drug dealing.

Other Restrictions.
Be sure your lease/ rental agreement complies with all relevant laws including rent control ordinances, health and safety codes, occupancy rules, and anti-discrimination laws. State laws are especially key, setting security deposit limits, notice requirements for entering rental property, tenants' rights to sublet or bring in additional roommates, rules for changing or ending a tenancy, and specific disclosure requirements such as past flooding in the rental unit.

Any other legal restrictions you can think of should also be spelled out in the lease/ rental agreement. Important rules and regulations covering parking and use of common areas should be specifically mentioned in the agreement as well.


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