Previously we’ve covered the basic items to include in a lease agreement template. These standard items include the tenant’s rights, the length of the lease agreement, as well as the monthly rental price of the unit. In many cases, the basics are all you need to successfully begin a landlord-tenant relationship. However, as a landlord you may wish to include several optional items in your lease agreement to better protect yourself from a potentially costly tenant.
Pest control can place a burden on your budget as a landlord. Therefore, it is to your benefit to include terms within the lease agreement template that stipulate that the tenant is responsible for any required pest control services. Prior to renting the apartment to your new tenants, hire a pest control company to perform an examination of the apartment in order to ensure that the premise is free from any pest infestations. Therefore, in your agreement you can outline that the apartment has been examined by a professional and deemed pest-free. Should any pest infestations occur while the tenant is residing in the unit, the tenant is responsible for payment of pest services.
A nonpaying tenant or a tenant that is habitually late with their payment is every landlord’s nightmare. In order to encourage your tenants to make their rental payments on time, include a section that discusses late payment fees. For example, you can include that if your tenants are late on their rental payment by three days, you will tack on a $35 late fee. Or, you can choose to charge a daily late payment fee, within reason, until the payment is received.
Many landlords choose to completely disallow pets of any kind, while other landlords only allow their tenants to have cats. If you do choose to allow dogs, it is within your rights as the landlord to enforce breed restrictions as well as size restrictions and restrict the number of total pets a tenant can have. Furthermore, it is also in your best interest to charge a non-refundable pet deposit, or charge a nominal monthly pet fee that will help protect you against damages inflicted upon the property by pets.
Penalty for Bounced Checks
When a tenant’s rent check bounces, it can be a great inconvenience to you. And, if there is no financial penalty for bouncing a check, it can be all too easy for a tenant to get into the habit of bouncing checks. In order to discourage such behavior, it’s important to include a section in your lease agreement that states that the tenant will be charged a penalty fee each time a check is bounced. A penalty fee in the range of $20 to $35 per bounced check is appropriate, though many landlords lean towards the latter end of the scale.
Alterations to the Property
You have likely poured thousands of dollars into upgrading your rental property. Therefore, in order to protect your investment, it is in your best interest to strictly prohibit the tenant from making any permanent changes to the unit. Permanent changes, such as changing flooring, painting cabinetry or adding built-in appliances should be prohibited. However, allowing semi-permanent alterations, such as painting walls or changing out light fixtures may actually help you retain tenants for a longer period of time, as it will make them feel more at home, without sacrificing the design/structural integrity of the unit. You may even choose to include stipulations about semi-permanent changes, such as only allowing tenants to choose from a selection of preapproved-by-you paint colors.
Because the standard lease agreement template is most often geared towards the rights of tenants, adding these optional items into your lease will help ensure that your interests as a landlord are also well represented in the rental agreement. Furthermore, including these optional items also ensures that there are no gray areas in your agreement that the tenant can take advantage of. This works towards ensuring that your property is well taken care of, and that rent is paid within the agreed upon schedule.
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