There are many reasons to use state specific leases and legal notices but the most important is to protect your personal property and your rental property from lawsuits, and yourself from violating state laws.
I’m sure you know a landlord who steadfastly believes in a simple generic lease and has had great success with it. But the truth is, he or she has been extremely lucky. Generic non-state level leases have loads of loopholes that can lead to uncertainty between you and your tenant.
You should use a state specific lease designed to meet the laws in your state!
Reason #1: Consequences of Breach by Tenant
You need to be sure your tenant knows if they violate the lease, there is a plan in place for moving-forward in the most appropriate direction. Especially with respect to the number of tenants.
How many times have you seen 10 people living in a home that was rented to a couple and didn’t mention their entire family would be living there? This will cause substantial wear-and-tear on your home.
Reason #2: Utilities–Who pays for what?
Your tenant may not care about the new tree and grass you just added to the front yard but you just spent $2,000 for landscaping to make your property look great. Put a complete explanation of the expectations of the tenant to maintain the landscaping or hire a service. But either way, put it in the lease.
Reason #3: Tenant Insurance & Liability
Your landlord insurance policy will NOT cover your tenant’s possessions. Most tenants know about rental insurance but many don’t buy it. Be sure your lease stipulates something like the following:
“Landlord shall not be liable to Tenant, Tenant’s family or Tenant’s invitees, licensees, and/or guests for damages not proximately caused by Landlord or Landlord’s agents. Landlord will not compensate Tenant or anyone else for damages proximately caused by any other source whatsoever, or by Acts of God, and Tenant is therefore strongly encouraged to independently purchase insurance to protect Tenant, Tenant’s family, Tenant’s invitees, licensees, and/or guests, and all personal property on the leased premises and/or in any common areas from any and all damages.
Reason #4: Condition of Leases Premises
How many times has a tenant tried to tell you that something was broken or damaged when they moved in and you didn’t note it? Include a statement similar to this, “Tenant hereby acknowledges that Tenant has examined the leased premises prior to the signing of this Lease, or knowingly waived said examination.”
Reason #5: Raise your hand if your tenant wants to remodel your house and take the difference off of the rent?
Sooner or later it happens to every landlord. The bottom line is you can do whatever you want but be sure your tenant knows it needs to be in writing. The ARPOLA lease, through US Legal Forms, section regarding Alterations begins with, “Tenant shall make no alterations, decorations, additions, or improvements to the leased premises without first obtaining the express written consent of Landlord.”
Reason #6: Late rent, no call from tenant. Did they move out?
Abandonment can vary by state. Your lease should have something like the following, based on the laws in your state, “Abandonment shall be defined as the absence of the Tenant from the leased premises for a period of seven (7) or more consecutive days while rent or any owing monies remain unpaid- whereupon Tenant will be considered in breach of this Lease.”
Reason #7: Have you had a tenant try to withhold part of rent based on repairs you didn’t make?
Be sure you have informed the tenant that withholding rent is unacceptable. Yes, you have a requirement to make repairs in a timely manner, some are more urgent than others. Your state specific lease should state something similar to the following, “Tenant agrees that if any repairs to be made by Landlord are delayed by reasons beyond Landlords control, there shall be no effect on the obligations of Tenant under this Lease.”
Reason #8: Lead Based Paint
The simple solution for this is including the following in your lease:
LEAD-BASED PAINT DISCLOSURE: HOUSING BUILT BEFORE 1978 MAY CONTAIN LEAD-BASED PAINT. LEAD FROM PAINT, PAINT CHIPS, AND DUST CAN POSE HEALTH HAZARDS IF NOT MANAGED PROPERLY. LEAD EXPOSURE IS ESPECIALLY HARMFUL TO YOUNG CHILDREN AND PREGNANT WOMEN. BEFORE RENTING PRE-1978 HOUSING, LESSORS MUST DISCLOSE THE PRESENCE OF KNOWN LEAD-BASED PAINT AND/OR LEAD-BASED PAINT HAZARDS IN THE DWELLING. LEASES MUST ALSO RECEIVED A FEDERALLY APPROVED PAMPHLET ON LEAD POISONING PREVENTION.
The fines are outrageous, don’t take a chance!
Reason #9: Rent due date and late rent fees
There’s a reason every apartment complex in the country has provisions for late rent. It’s extra revenue! Of course you want your rent on-time. Make the fees consistent with your state laws, but charge for late rent when it’s legal.
Reason #10: The Lease is a Legal Document
If it’s vague, you may be subject to the decision of a judge. However, if it’s legal in your state–and specific–it will be very clear about what is acceptable and unacceptable for you and your tenant.
ARPOLA knows that state specific lease agreements and legal notices are an important tool for every landlord and property manager. Our forms are available in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and include the following:
- Residential Lease Application
- Notice to Quit for non-payment of rent
- Notice to Quit – expedited (Drug, etc.)
- Notice to Quit – Lease violation with no right to cure
- Notice to Cure or Quit – Lease Violation
- Non-Renewal Notice
- Lease Amendment – Change to Lease
- Inventory and Condition of Leased Premises for Pre Lease and Post Lease
- Landlord Tenant Closing Statement to Reconcile Security Deposit
- Lead Based Paint Disclosure for Rental Transaction
- Warning of Default on Residential Lease
- Tenant Consent to Background and Reference Check
- Salary Verification form for Potential Lease
Several of our Membership Options include FREE state leases and legal notices (above). Join today and never have to worry about legal forms again!ARPOLA, LLC does not render legal, tax, economic, or investment advice. Certain sections of the Site may provide links to sites of third parties, where you may be able to purchase online many different types of products and services that are provided by third parties. We are not responsible for the quality, accuracy, timeliness, reliability, or any other aspect of any product or service offered or provided by a third party. Person should consult his or her own counsel, accountant, and other advisors as to risk and legal, tax, economic, investment and other matters concerning real estate and other investments. Members agree to comply with the Code of Ethics of the Association.