A lease can be a landlord’s best friend. The lease you present to your tenants not only clarifies your expectations of your renters, but it also stands as your witness if a legal dispute should arise with a tenant who violates the rental agreement. While leases can be cumbersome and dry, it is important that they are thorough, covering as many contingencies as possible, especially those that occur most often.
Even if you have been in the property rental business for years, regular reviews and revisions of your rental contracts are a good idea. This is particularly wise if new situations have arisen or statutes in your region of Florida have changed. In fact, you may wish to seek legal advice about adding some specific clauses to your lease.
Protection with proactivity
It is often easier to take proactive steps before you hand over the keys to a unit rather than dealing with an issue that is already causing problems for you or your other tenants. By including certain clauses in your lease, you may be able to preempt some of these issues or handle them swiftly. Some clauses that may be legal in your area include the following:
- Details about how and when tenants may renew their lease before it expires
- Clear information about rental due dates, grace periods and late fees
- Restrictions on how tenants may use the unit, including who may stay there and how long guests may remain
- A joint liability clause, which explains that you may hold every tenant whose name is on the lease responsible for rent as well as lease violations
- Tenant actions that may result in eviction, such as failing to pay rent or conducting criminal activity on the premises
- Policies for subleasing, such as whether you allow it and how tenants may obtain your consent to sublet
- Expectations for unit conditions when a tenant moves out, such as cleaning and removal of possessions as well as the timeframe for evacuating
- A severability clause, which protects the enforceability of the rest of your contract in case one part is invalid for some reason
Drafting a comprehensive lease that complies with state and local laws is critical for your own protection and the comfortable living of your renters. While you may be able to find websites that will generate rental agreements for a fee, they do not compare to having personal legal advice from a professional who knows the unique circumstances of your property and your tenants.