A lease is defined as: A contract granting use or occupation of property during a specified period in exchange for a specified rent. When entering into a lease it is likley that you will be signing a lease agreement. Below are some important sections to look for in your lease agreement.
Names of ALL Tenants.
Every adult who lives in the rental unit should be named as tenants and sign the lease/ rental agreement. This makes each tenant legally responsible for all terms, including the full amount of the rent and the proper use of the property. This means that you can legally seek the entire rent from any one of the tenants if the others skip out or be unable to pay; and 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 the landlord or tenant. Leases, on the other hand, last for a specific period of time.
Your lease or rental agreement should specify the amount of rent to be given, when it will be due, and how it is to be paid. To avoid confusion and disputes with tenants, spell out details clearly. Details can include what acceptable payment methods are, whether late fees will be charged (and if there is a grace period), and if there are any charges when a cheque bounces.
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 or rental 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. For more details on Security Deposits review the Security Deposit Information link.
Repairs and Maintenance.
Clearly set out your and the tenant's responsibilities for repair and maintenance in your lease/ rental 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.
Be sure to include a detailed list of any appliances or furniture that is provided with the property.
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.
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.