Why you as a landlord need exact names on all parties to the lease is the topic of this week’s blog by veteran landlord and property manager Tim Zabawa.
By Tim Zabawa
Broker/Owner Z Austin Real Estate
You need exact names of ALL parties on a lease because awhile back I was misled by a prospective tenant who was a “Jr.”
It was not his real name, but let’s use John Jones Jr. as an example.
He did not put “Jr” down on his application. Instead he put his father’s social security number on the application. So John Jones Sr. basically was coming up on the reports and he had great credit. So I thought we were good to go.
Then, while I was working on the processing side, I ultimately caught it. Here is how I found out:
Some of the accounts on the credit report did not seem to match up exactly. Credit reports can certainly have errors from time to time. What actually got my attention was that I ended up seeing “Jr.” on a pay check with his name. That is how I caught it.
While I have generally never had a problem with names on a lease, it is prudent to have as much information as you can.
The lease or rental agreement is the foundation of the landlord-tenant relationship, and there are certain lease terms that should be in every agreement you create or sign.
Get full exact names with middle initials if you can
Here are some things I use involving names and parties on the lease:
You have to have a list of tenants’ names of course. But remember names should be completely spelled out. And remember that is both landlord and tenant names.
Have the tenant put in middle initials if you can get them.
Also be sure to get them to add any suffixes like Jr. III, IV, if they exist.
I was leasing one house to four individual people. I had everyone on the lease, and then one of them moves out. Before they go get another roommate to move in, be sure you are getting that name of the new tenant right away. You have to keep up with it.
Get as much information as you can
Get as much information as you can from each applicant because if you ever get into a default or collection situation, incorrect or incomplete names can come up and create an issue for you as a landlord.
By getting every tenants’ signature, all signees become fully responsible for the payment of the lease and condition of the property, at least here in Texas. Your state may be different so be sure and contact your attorney.
Also there is always talk about children who are “adults.”
Do you put all kids’ names on a lease?
Standard protocol says you should have adults, 18-years-old or older, on the lease. I have a hard time putting all the kids’ names on the lease.
If you have a mom and a dad and three kids and one of the kids is 18-years-old and still in high school, I always felt weird making that 18-year-old kid part of the lease. But that can be what the rules say – again check your state to be sure.
Now if you have an offspring who is working and not really supported by the parents living in the property that might be a different story. Or, if those parents were relying on that child’s income to help them qualify for the rental then it would certainly be important to have that child on the lease.
Do you put pets’ names on the lease?
Including pet names on a lease agreement is common and aligns with best practices.
Also add whether the pet is neutered, color, breed, etc. I have seen how some property managers want to see a picture of the pet to ensure no shenanigans in this regard.
Stay on top of all roommates
It is definitely important to get all the names on the lease so you know who is responsible for payment.
Right now I have these four young adults renting one of my houses. They are all reasonable young adults.
However, I do not think any one of them could qualify on their own to rent the house, but all four together they are over qualified.
By getting every tenants’ signature everyone becomes fully responsible for the payment of the lease and it just makes things go more smoothly for everyone.
About the author:
Tim Zabawa is a veteran Texas landlord and property manager and owner and broker at Z Austin Real Estate in Austin Texas. He has been specializing in residential real estate since the mid 1980’s beginning with homeowner association management then expanding his resume to vacation rentals (personal and fee based), full service property management, buyer and seller representation with special emphasis working with investors. Tim has owned and managed many proprietary income producing properties and has successfully completed remodel and flip projects along with being a GREEN builder. www.zaustinrealestate.com