A well crafted rental lease agreement can save you from countless headaches, small-claims lawsuits, and angry tenants.
My greatest investment was a rocksolid lease. Find a lease that works for you and then stick to it.
— Landlordology (@Landlordology) May 5, 2013
The Lease: Your Instruction Manual
It is very important for you to use a lease that covers every imaginable situation, so that when a conflict arises with your tenants, your lease addresses it.
For example, if your lease specifically says that it’s the tenant’s responsibility pay for a plumber, then when the issue arises, you are just following protocol instead of arbitrarily telling the tenant that it’s their expense.
If your lease is thorough, it will act as your instruction manual for handling situations. Your lease will become the unbiased third-party that your tenant cannot argue with – because they signed it! When your lease describes how to handle specific issues, then it becomes the “bad guy”, and you are just another person following procedures.
Fair and Reasonable
As long as your lease is reasonable, it will usually hold up in court.
For example, a late fee of 5% of the rent is reasonable to the majority of people, however a late fee of 20% is not. Therefore, just because your tenant signs the document, doesn’t mean you can get away with murder. Your lease still has to be “fair and reasonable”.
State Specific Leases
Each state has their own specific rules regarding late fees, security deposits, etc, which is why it’s critical to get a rental lease that is applicable to your state.
Over the years I’ve downloaded my leases from two websites. Both are excellent companies that have kept me in-line with the law.
- US Legal Forms – US Legal Forms is very simple to use and you can download a copy of the lease to edit for yourself.
- ez Landlord Forms – ez Landlord Forms has a fun “Lease Builder Wizard” that walks you through the specific clauses for your state, but the data is kept on their website, under your account.