A lease or rental agreement is a legal contract that sets out the rules landlords and tenants agree to follow in their rental relationship. This document needs to cover the basic terms of the tenancy. It emphasizes the roles and rights of both the landlord and the tenants. To maximize the potential of your rental unit and to help prevent any problems, you need to have a strong rental agreement that sets the rules for the property, payment procedures, and other responsibilities related to renting.

Rental agreements are very similar to lease agreements. The biggest difference between lease agreements and rental agreements lies in the length of the contract. A rental agreement is generally structured month to month while a lease agreement is usually written to cover long-term rentals (12 months or longer). A credible North Richland landlord attorney can guide you on how to create a detailed lease or rental agreement. A well-written rental or lease agreement sets a landlord up for success and serves as a communication tool between you and your tenants.

A detailed contract is also in the best interest of your renter, as it gives them a better understanding of the terms and conditions of your rental. The article will explain the important information that you need to write in your lease or rental agreement. You need to include the following:

  1. Names of All Tenants and Occupants
  2. Limits on Occupancy
  3. Term of the Tenancy
  4. Description of Rental Property
  5. Rental Price
  6. Security Deposits and Fees
  7. Repair and Maintenance Policies
  8. Landlord’s Right of Entry
  9. Required Landlord Disclosures
  10. Rules and Important Policies 


Names of All Tenants and Occupants

North Richland Landlord AttorneysAll the tenants and occupants living in the rental unit shall be named and every adult must sign the rental or lease agreement. Each occupant or tenant is lawfully accountable and liable for paying the full rent amount and following all other terms of the agreement. This means that you can lawfully seek the entire rent amount from any one of the tenants should the others skip or miss the payment. In case one of the tenants violates an important term of the agreement, you can terminate the tenancy for all tenants involved in that lease or rental agreement.


Limits on Occupancy

Occupancy restrictions limit the number of people who can officially live on your property. This protects your right to choose who lives in your property – ideally, people whom you have selected and approved – and to limit the number of occupants. This clause gives you grounds to evict a tenant who moves in with a friend or relative without seeking your permission.


Term of the Tenancy

You need to state whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Rental agreements usually run from month to month and renew automatically unless terminated by the landlord or tenant. In contrast, leases usually last a year. Your choice will depend on how long you want the tenant to stay and how much flexibility you want in your arrangement. Do not forget to take note of the starting date, the length of tenancy, and the expiration date (if creating a lease).


Description of Rental Property

The complete address of the rental property and anything else necessary to further define the accommodation must be completely stated in the agreement. You need to mention the parking spots, storage areas, or any restricted areas of the property.


Rental Price

Your rental or lease agreement must clearly state when, how, and where rent payments are made. You need to specify the exact amount of rent, acceptable payment methods, late rent charges, payment due date, and any charges if a rent check bounces.


Security Deposits and Fees

Security deposits are required in almost all rental businesses. In your rental agreement, you have to state the exact amount of the deposit and explain how you’ll use it. In most cases, you use the deposit to repair damages and cover unexpected maintenance costs. You need to carefully plan out and explain the use of security deposits so that tenants will have a full understanding of the requirements and conditions.


Repair and Maintenance Policies

To avoid confusion between you and your tenant with regards to repairs in the rental property, you should include clauses in it that outline who is responsible for which repairs. The critical part of this process is establishing that both parties agree on the terms and conditions. You need to outline tenant maintenance responsibilities within your rental agreement to ensure that they understand their obligation to maintain the property according to your standards. Specifying the maintenance expectations in your lease will give you the evidence you need should your tenant damage or neglect your rental property.


Landlord’s Right of Entry

A common landlord-tenant argument concerns the rights of landlords to enter the rental property versus tenant privacy rights. To avoid problems, it is advisable to implement fair policies specifying the circumstances when the landlord may legally enter rented premises. You must provide tenants with written notice of entry at least 24 hours before entering the property.


Required Landlord Disclosures

Landlords and property managers are required to follow their federal, state, and local laws about informing tenants of policies, facts, and rules about the property. You need to include landlord disclosures in the lease or rental agreement and must be shared with the tenant before moving in. A reliable North Richland landlord attorney can review your lease or rental agreement to ensure it complies with all applicable laws.


Rules and Important Policies

State that you can terminate the agreement if the tenant fails to abide by the tenancy rules. You need to include the following policies in leases and rental agreements: 

  • Restrictions on Disruptive Activity: You need to include clauses that prohibit loud noise, property damage, and general disruptive behavior of the tenants.
  • No Illegal Activity: You must include an explicit clause prohibiting illegal activity, such as drug use, drug dealing, and excessive noise or nuisance.
  • Pets: You have the right to either allow or restrict pets in your rental property. Your policy regarding pets should be made clear in your residential lease agreement, including specifics about what type of pets you allow. You must specify the breeds, types, sizes, and a number of animals allowed. Also, you need to mention if pets must be leashed outside the rental property.
  • Smoking: Tenants don’t have absolute rights to smoke in their rentals. There is no law, either state or federal, that provides people with the freedom to smoke when and where they want. As a landlord, you have the option to allow or prohibit smoking in your rental property. Landlords often prohibit smoking to limit fire hazards on the property, reduce fire insurance premiums, and avoid stains and odors. You must inform your tenants of a no-smoking policy or smoking restrictions through a clause in their lease or rental agreement.

Importance of Hiring a Landlord Attorney

Running a property rental business requires you to have sufficient knowledge regarding landlord-tenant laws. A residential lease agreement can be a weapon and shield for both parties. Having a well-written and detailed lease or rental agreement can help you have a secured landlord-tenant relationship. For legal help in creating a lease or rental agreement, do not hesitate to consult our competent North Richland landlord attorneys at Girling Law. Our lawyers will help you draft a contract and lease agreement successfully. We’ll ensure that your agreement protects all of your rights and is in compliance with all applicable local, state, and federal laws.