Rental Lease Agreement: The Essential Tool for the Pro Landlord
First impressions are always important in any new situation. This is certainly the case between landlords and their tenants. You want to project characteristics such as competence, professionalism, and confidence. The rental lease agreement that you and your tenant will sign is your introduction of your expectations in your relationship. A strong lease will be the guide.
The lease creates the guiding principles for how you manage your property. It is the key to establishing the professionalism that you want to portray. At the beginning people will be willing to work with each other, so be sure you come out of the gate with a strong lease. State laws may be there to back you up, but your expectations should all be expressed in your lease.
Of course, no lease can save you if you have not already done your due diligence in screening and selecting your tenant. A thorough background check, credit report, and employment verification will help you select a tenant who can pay reliably.
Here are three ways to user your lease to convey yourself as an experienced landlord, no matter how green you may be.
First, use a detailed lease agreement to state all rules and expectations.
Our constant mantra is, “If it’s not in writing, then it doesn’t count.” Use your lease to cover everything that you know you want covered as well as issues that you think could come up.
For example, if a mouse finds its way into the house, who is responsible? Do you allow smoking, and if so, are there designated areas where smoking is permissible? What are your rules regarding marijuana? Have you included an early termination clause, in case your tenant gets a job in a new city, loses their income, or decides to move out? To envision more scenarios that you may address, browse the ezLandlordForm addenda area.
Some people worry about a lease being too long, but this is generally not an issue. It is not uncommon for experienced landlords and professional companies to have leases of 15 to 20 pages. Think of it this way: When your tenant runs afoul of your expectations, you do not want to have to get into a discussion about what is right or wrong. You want to simply point out the applicable clause in the lease that addresses the infraction and the remedies. If your tenant says, “Let’s talk about it,” you don’t want to be stuck with nothing in writing. Naming the page and item number is much easier than having to enter into a negotiation with your tenant.
Being an inexperienced landlord does not mean you have to suffer through myriad pitfalls. A comprehensive lease keeps you from having to grasp at policies on the fly. The ezLandlordForms lease builder can help you build a lease easily, in line with state regulations, even if you are a first time landlord.
Secondly, review the rental lease with your tenants.
When your tenant is ready to sign on the dotted line, make sure to go over the lease with them. Ensure that your tenant understands all of the expectations, boundaries, and penalties. Taking care of this discussion at the outset will help limit questions and uncertainty later.
Third, talk about your lease agreement with authority.
Once you have taken the time to create a complete lease, use the document to back you up, and follow the road map that you have created. Your lease should help you build confidence, and that confidence can enhance your authority. When the tenant sees that you will follow your lease, they will understand that they will not be able to take advantage of you.
Being a landlord is definitely a learning process, but that does not mean you need to make each mistake personally in order to learn it. Coming from a position of authority, backed by a strong lease, will help you project a consistent message.