Often, when renting an apartment, tenants are overwhelmed by the amount of information they are given, from the initial apartment viewing, to filling out the application, to getting approved, to finally, moving in. While it’s important to let all prospective residents know and understand the rules they must abide by when moving into their new apartment home, it’s even more important that the rules and regulations be put into writing.
While standard information such as lease term, rental amount, and deposit information is almost always included in every lease, it’s important that other items are written into the lease as well. It’s also a good idea to mention these items to residents so that they are aware that they are there. After all, most tenants do not read their lease from beginning to end.
Here are some things that property managers should ensure are included in every lease and mentioned to each tenant as well:
Rental due date. While most leases will stipulate that rent is due the first of each month, most management companies will offer a grace period of a few days. If rent is considered LATE on the 1st, put it in the lease, likewise if the late period starts on the 3rd.
The penalty for late rent. This needs to be spelled out as well. Tenants must be informed what the penalties will be if the rent is late, and if extenuating circumstances will ever apply.
What utilities, if any, are included in the monthly rent. If gas is included in the monthly rent, state that in the lease. Likewise, if the tenant is responsible for electric, that should be stated in the lease as well.
Apartment alterations. This can be a sticky area, and one most likely to be abused. If tenants are required to get permission from management prior to making ANY alterations to the unit, it must be spelled out in the lease. This includes anything from painting the walls, to installing a ceiling fan. If this is not spelled out in the lease, tenants cannot be penalized for any property alterations found upon move-out.
Authorized landlord entry. Another sticky area. Years ago, when I rented a house, the owner of the house thought nothing of using her key to enter the property, clip roses in the backyard, and complain to me about the unwashed dishes in the sink. Only legal action could keep her out. While landlords are perfectly within their rights to enter a property during an emergency situation, 24 hour notice is typically required to enter any other time. It would be in your best interests to put this in the lease. And obey it.
Pet policy. If your property doesn’t allow pets, put it in the lease. If you do accept pets, layout any restrictions (dogs under 25 pounds), and any pet deposits required. Also be sure to note whether the deposit is refundable upon moveout.
By providing your tenants with a comprehensive, in-depth lease, you can avoid any misunderstandings and possible legal issues later.