Are These 10 Provisions In Your Lease?
I’m called upon regularly to help Landlords when problems arise with their rental property. Unfortunately, many times I find the lease between the landlord and tenant is out of date, does not have sufficient provisions to protect the landlord’s interest or is otherwise deficient in some way. While it’s tempting for a landlord to want to save few bucks with a “do it yourself” lease, this can have significant consequences when problems arise in the landlord/tenant relationship.
Here are ten (10) provisions you want to be on the lookout for in your lease to make sure you’re protected. How does your lease score?
- Is the Term Current? If you are outside the stated term in your lease you may not have a lease in effect at all and all the provisions and protections you put in place through your lease may not apply. Make sure the term of the lease is always current. If you decide to extend the lease term do so formally and properly with a lease amendment.
- What is Rent? Unless your lease specifically provides, late fees, damage charges and other amounts aren’t classified as “rent” and therefore can’t be claimed on a three day notice. This can make it very difficult to recover these items against a delinquent tenant and difficult to terminate a lease for failure to pay these non-rent items.
- Who is Allowed To Live in the Premises? Unless your lease spells out who is allowed to occupy the premises and what your policy is regarding guests you may have trouble removing unwanted company.
- What Happens With the Security Deposit? Did you know laws have changed recently regarding security deposits? Florida Statute § 83.49 requires very specific disclosure language to be included in your lease regarding security deposits. This language is typically several paragraphs in all caps. If you don’t have this language in your lease, you likely are not be in compliance with current law.
- What if the Tenant Wants a Dog? Or what if they are pet-sitting a friend’s dog for the weekend? An comprehensive animal addendum is critical that explains the conditions for allowing an animal on the premises and the rights and responsibilities of the parties.
- Who is Going to Keep Up the Lawn? Nothing will give you a bad reputation with the neighbors faster than failing to maintain the exterior of your property. Have you properly addressed who will provide maintenance for the exterior of the premises and the standards for outward appearance?
- What if They Bring Bugs? We don't like to talk about it, but bedbugs, fleas and other pests are more common than you think. Especially when tenants pick up used furniture or bring in animals. Have you discussed prevention of pest infestation and addressed who will be responsible for cleanup?
- What if a Tenant Commits A Crime? What do you do if a tenant, a family member or their guest commits a serious crime on your property or uses your property to facilitate a crime? What does your lease say about your rights to terminate a lease for certain types of criminal activity?
- What if the Tenant Doesn’t Have Sufficient Credit History? Some tenants may not have sufficient credit or employment history to meet your rental requirements. Do you have a process for requiring a parental or sponsor’s guarantee to ensure the payment of rent, damages and any other amounts due under the lease?
- What if the Tenant Leaves Stuff Behind? It happens. Sometimes a tenant will leave property behind after they move out or will abandon a property mid-lease with some or all of their belongings. Unless your lease provides for this possibility with specific statutory language you could be responsible for the storage and safekeeping of their possessions until you dispose of them in accordance with the abandoned property laws which can be a lengthy and expensive process.
While the above list is not comprehensive, these items represent just a few of the issues I regularly assist landlords, property managers and homeowners with on a daily basis. When problems arise in your landlord/tenant relationship, one of a landlord’s best tools is having a strong lease in place.
If you have concerns about your lease I’m happy to review it and draft a custom lease for your rental property. Contact my office today to discuss how you can protect your investment property.