Arguably one of the most important protections you can put in place for both yourself as a landlord and for your tenants is a lease agreement. A well-written lease agreement holds both parties accountable for what’s been agreed upon in the lease terms, helps prevent disputes, and ensures compliance with the law.
The more details you include in your lease agreement, the fewer questions your tenants will have and the quicker you’ll be able to resolve issues if, and when, they do arise. Because, like all contracts, lease agreements don’t really become useful and important until there is a problem.
What Terms to Be Sure to Include In Your Lease
- Property ownership – An important component of the lease agreement that frequently gets forgotten is related to property ownership – and specifically appliances. While it may seem obvious to you that the refrigerator, dishwasher, and range are provided by you, the owner, and are to stay with the house, you may be surprised to find that many default lease templates don’t offer a spot for you to clearly state that. Then, when an issue arises, you have no way of effectively enforcing it since it is not in the lease.
At RL Property Management Group, we encourage all landlords to specifically outline appliances in the lease agreement and note who owns what.
- Maintenance responsibility – Your lease agreement should clearly dictate who is responsible for what, especially when it comes to something that sits more on the margins. A common example is a garbage disposal. If the garbage disposal stops working, we specify in our lease that it’s the tenant’s responsibility to clear it if there’s a clog. Conversely, if the garbage disposal has reached the end of its life and is no longer working, then it’s the landlord’s responsibility to take care of the issue.
- The order in which payments are applied – Ideally, the order in which rent payments are applied is something that never really matters. We hope you are receiving a full rent payment plus any utilities or late fees on time, month after month. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sometimes tenants do not pay their full balance on time. When this happens, the order in which those payments are applied becomes really important. Learn more about why this clause is so important.
- Tenant fees – For property managers and landlords with real estate in Ohio, there is a fair amount of freedom in how you construct your leases and what types of fees you can charge residents per that lease. As a landlord, we’ve found that fees can be a useful tool, especially when used to dissuade certain types of behavior or to compensate the landlord for activities that go above and beyond their normal duties.
- Pet policy – Your lease should be very clear in terms of whether pets are allowed (and if so, what kind of pets you permit). If they are not permitted, it’s helpful to write that in big, bold letters. You might also consider having your residents initial next to the pet policy. Second, it’s important to remember that pets extend beyond just cats and dogs. If you don’t want chickens, snakes, rodents, birds, fish, or some other pet in your property, be sure to specify that in your policy.
If you have questions about lease agreements, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at RL Property Management Group. Our team has decades of experience and is ready to help you improve your rental experience.