Lease Agreement Tips for Landlords

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Kent Hranicka with The Duplex Doctors. I would like to take this opportunity to talk with you about a few things that you can add to your lease in order to help set expectations for your tenants.

I work with a lot of new buyers and it can be intimidating to become a new landlord, especially if you don't know what to include in your lease and the sort of expectations to set with your tenants. I find it's very important to have a talk with your tenants before they enter the building and occupy it, and set those expectations to be sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what their role is in this tenant landlord relationship.

There are a couple of things that I found were really good to add into my leases and took responsibilities off my shoulders. One is snow and lawn care and putting a clause in your lease that states that the tenant is responsible for snow and lawn care. Now, are they going to actually take care of the lawn and remove the snow? Hopefully. I've had good luck with it, but again it's about setting those expectations. And if you have it in the lease, if you get a fine from the city, you can put that fine payment on your tenants because it was their responsibility to do that.

Pet policy. Now, if you allow pets you are going to have a lot of demand for your units, I'm sure. But you'll want to write in the expectations in the lease as to who will pay for those damages if a pet does damage property. A lot of people do pet deposits. I found it better to do pet rent. So you can charge an extra $50 a month, which over the course of a year is $600, which will pay for cleaning fees and potentially any other damages. A lot of times it's tough for tenants to come up with a few hundred extra dollars upfront. So, charging pet rent on a monthly basis might be a better option for them, and for you.

I write into every one of my leases that I have the right to go into the property on a quarterly basis. And that I will go into the property just to check on them so that there are no surprises, and I can ensure that there aren't any damages to the property. Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I think you'll find that a lot of tenants will take out the batteries, whether perhaps they're smoking or there's a low battery and they just didn't want to hear the noise anymore. You can write it into the lease that it is their responsibility to check those quarterly and change the batteries if necessary. And that lightens your liability as a landlord.

Lastly, cleaning responsibilities. Upon checkout you want to be sure that they are cleaning everything, and that includes stove and microwave. Those are the two things that get neglected often, along with refrigerator. So ensuring that you are writing into that lease that it is their responsibility to clean stove, refrigerator, microwave, and anything else that might get neglected.

Hopefully these tips were helpful. If you want to have a conversation about any other landlord, tenant responsibilities, please give me a call 651-307-6924.