How to Write a Strong Lease Agreement in 5 Easy Steps

How to Write a Strong Lease Agreement in 5 Easy Steps
by John Carlucci - May 17, 2022

Are you a new landlord or a property manager tasked with drafting your first lease? This article has all the answers you need. As a binding contract between landlords and tenants, it's essential that property owners get it right. Thus, this article covers how to write a strong lease agreement in 5 easy steps. Also, since the accuracy of such a document is so crucial, it would help to seek assistance when you need it. Bay Property Management Group Philadelphia suggests tips on creating a strong lease agreement that can help stir you in the right direction.

What is a Lease?

A lease is a legal contract between a landlord and tenant that specifies the duties, responsibilities, and conditions for renting a specific rental property. Although people often use the word interchangeably with a rental agreement, they're pretty different. Typically, rental agreements dictate shorter tenancy periods, like a month-to-month arrangement. On the other hand, a lease covers 6 months or longer. It must be well written and up to code since it dictates tenancy conditions for such an extended period.

5 Steps to Creating a Solid Lease Agreement

1. Specify the Property and Parties

A lease must always identify the correct name of the property and the parties involved. After the rigors of marketing your vacancy, it would be a mistake not to specify who you've chosen to enter an agreement with. Ensure the contract includes the full mailing address of your rental and everyone's full name. That would be the landlord and tenant(s) for the latter. If there's more than one adult living in the unit, it's best to include their names. You may have an occupancy limit to restrict unwanted guests as an extension.  

2. Determine the Duration of the Lease

The next thing to include is the duration of the lease. It would help to avoid vague time indicators like 6 months or a year. It would be best to specify the start and end date of the tenancy period to prevent disputes. For example, you might consider the day you sign the contract as the beginning of the lease. Meanwhile, the tenant might think it starts when they move into the property. Such misunderstandings can snowball into a major source of dispute.

3. Identify How Much and When Rent is Due

Like the point above, you should specify how much and when rent is due. Instead of agreeing on $700 monthly, determine which date of the month rent is due. That way, you can steer clear of disputes regarding late payments. Also, include any penalties for late payments and circumstances surrounding them. For example, how long is the grace period? How much would defaulting tenants pay, and how?

4. Include Essential Provisions

After covering the basics, you should include essential provisions about the terms and conditions of your property. A strong lease agreement should consist of all your building codes and policies. Examples of clauses you should add are ones detailing the security deposit, pets, smoking, and property maintenance. You could create an addendum to flesh out your policies further.  

5. Ensure Everyone Signs

Finally, to ensure the contract terms are binding, you have to ensure everyone signs the document. It would be best to carefully encourage your tenants to read the lease agreement before agreeing. Also, you should keep a copy of the signed document for your records. 

Common Terms to Include 

Rental basics

Rental basics include terms we've already covered in the section above. You should add the names of both parties, the full address of the property, and the duration of the tenancy. Additionally, outline rental payment specifics like date and amount. 

Repair and Maintenance

While landlords ought to be the first point of contact when something malfunctions, they aren't necessarily liable for all repairs. Carefully layout tenant responsibilities regarding maintenance and the repair of tenant damage.

• Living Restrictions

It goes without saying that you should never condone illegal activities on your premises. Still, it's in your best interest to clearly outline that criminal behavior is not allowed. 

Should You Write Your Own Lease?

While no law says you can't write your lease, it can be a tricky situation. Since lease agreements are such sensitive documents, it's best to understand what you're undertaking. Common pitfalls landlords tend to fall into include demanding too much from the tenants, agreeing to fix everything, and putting the rental increase in writing. 

We recommend following our five easy steps to create your own lease agreement. Also, it's a good idea to have a lawyer or experienced property manager look at the contract before signing. They can draw your attention to mistakes or recommend improved rewording and provisions.

Conclusion

A poorly written lease is a legal liability to property owners. Creating such a binding document requires outlining essential details and ensuring they tally with landlord-tenant laws. Thus, it would be in your best interest to have an expert rental lawyer or an experienced property management company guide you through the process.

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