Rental agreements are not the same across the board, although many similarities exist since there are basic terms and conditions covered in all leases. The contracts must remain compliant with state laws and local regulations, which is another reason why the same information can be showing up from one rental agreement to another.

Here are some of the basic information your rental agreement must contain:

Names of All the Renters

All the names of the occupants staying in your rental unit must be written down on the lease. All must sign the rental agreement, signifying they understand the obligation to pay the monthly rent and take reasonable care of the property. By signing, they also agree to adhere to the rental policies.

If only one renter were to sign and that person leaves, the remaining renters can opt not to pay if they’re not listed as tenants and their signature isn’t on the document.

Limits to the Occupancy

As you’re creating your rental agreement, don’t forget to state that only the renters who signed the lease are deemed as tenants. This helps you avoid being responsible for occupants that you don’t know about or have not screened. It also protects you in case a renter decides to sublet your rental property without asking for your approval.

landlord showing a lease agreement in a blue folder to two tenants

Control over who’s occupying your unit is important for safety. Without writing a clause on occupancy limits, you may not be able to prevent additional occupants from living in your rental space without your knowledge.

Term Period of the Tenancy

Clearly indicate the tenancy period's start and end date as well as the procedure for renewal or lease termination.

Rental agreements that operate on a month-to-month basis automatically renew if the landlord or renter doesn’t notify one another to put an end to the tenancy. Keep in mind that rental agreements differ from fixed-term leases. Usually, a lease lasts a year.

Picking between a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease depends on the timeframe you’re allowing a tenant to occupy your unit. You may have plans of selling your property in the near future, in which case a long-term occupancy is not in the cards. Thus, it’s not recommended to create a fixed-term lease

Rental Amount

State the rent amount is a must in a rental agreement and include more details such as the due date of the rent and the different payment methods available. You must be clear about whether you can accept mailed-in checks, electronic payments, or credit cards. This reduces future conflicts with the renters.

several one hundred dollar bills with a envelope with the words past due on it in red

Other things to decide on apart from payment methods include:

  • Whether or not you’ll collect a late fee in case the rent payment is delayed
  • How much the late fee would be and if you provide a grace period
  • The cost of additional fees you’ll charge for bounced rent checks

Deposits and Fees

Another important subject to tackle is security deposits, which are often the cause of several landlord-tenant disputes. Learn what is covered in the state laws in regard to how a security deposit must be kept. Make sure to review the number of days required to give back the renter’s security deposit to comply with the law.

With regards to the security deposit, specify the following in your rental agreement:

  • When and how will the security deposit be refunded?
  • What are the fees that won’t be refunded?
  • What is the security deposit amount? Make sure it doesn’t go beyond the set limit under the law.
  • How will the deposit be used? Which property damage repairs does it cover?

Additionally, it’s important to inform the renter if the security deposit is earning interest and kept in an interest-generating account. This must be stated on your rental agreement. While some states require it and some won’t, it’s still a good practice to follow.

person in a blue hard hat fixing a smoke detector

Repairs and Maintenance

It’s not uncommon for tenants to withhold the rent if a maintenance repair request is not addressed. By detailing the responsibility of the renter and landlord in regard to dealing with property repairs and maintenance, you build a more solid relationship and reduce future conflicts.

Here are areas to note in your rental agreement:

  • Duties of the renter - List the tenant's maintenance tasks when it comes to keeping a clean unit and in generally good repair. Make it clear that any property damage that stems from the tenant's neglect or abuse of the space will be charged to them.
  • Duties of the landlord - Ensure that tenants understand which maintenance and repair tasks fall on the landlord’s shoulders.
  • The requirement to notify - Inform the renters what kind of property issues they need to report to ensure their safety. They must also know how to go about the process of requesting property maintenance.
  • Restriction list - Outline the limits when it comes to rental decors and DIY repairs. It helps to require renters to seek permission before they begin any DIY projects.

Rental Property Entry

Provide acceptable reasons to access a tenant’s unit in your rental agreement. This lets them know you value their privacy. Be clear on the notice period and make sure to alert the renter within that specified time before going inside the unit.

two dogs on a brown couch cuddling with their owner

Pet Policy

If you have a no-pet policy make this clear from the start. Note that service and emotional support animals are not classified as pets under the Fair Housing Act.

If you plan to accept renters with pets to your unit, make sure to be clear on your restrictions as to the number of pets allowed, acceptable breeds, and pet size. Include the additional obligations of the renter when it comes to taking care of the pet.

Bottom Line

If you want to spare yourself from stress and unnecessary disputes, create a rental agreement that has clear and detailed terms. If you need assistance to craft it, hire Sun-Pro Realty and Management. Contact us to learn about our services!