Elements of a Good Lease Document
In today’s computerized world, you can find lease documents all over the Internet. Some are free, and some come at a cost, even though it is usually quite reasonable. However, nothing can take the place of a legal document prepared by a legal professional for your specific use. So, you may just want to have an attorney prepare your lease agreements, or the format for them.
However, if you’re like many, you will take the Do-It-Yourself route, using a form you purchase at an office supply superstore or over the Internet. This doesn’t mean that you must take on extra risk though. Just make sure that you go over the forms before you make a selection, and be sure that they are legal in your state. Make certain that they contain at least the minimum elements of a valid and enforceable lease.
1. A lease is a legal contract between the landlord and the tenant. Negotiation is OK, but get everything in writing.
2. Signatures of competent parties are necessary. Minors should have parental or guardian signatures.
3. An adequate description of the property. Address of course. Include outbuildings or other items on the property.
4. The length of the lease should be clear, with date and time of day for occupancy and move-out.
5. Security deposits and rent payment: State clearly the conditions of deposit refunds per your state law. Rent due dates & penalties need to be clear to be enforceable.
6. Sublets or Assignments definitely need to be covered. Don’t be surprised by a new tenant you didn’t approve.
7. Use and occupancy limitations are important. Be clear about the nature of occupancy, if residential, whether a business is allowed, etc.
8. Acceleration of rents isn’t common, but you may want to line out that you have that authority if they are late paying rent or violate rules.
9. If legal in your state, a waiver of notices is a good thing to have. You place the tenant with the responsibility of knowing when his lease expires and when she must vacate.
10. Specify your rights of entry and inspection to avoid disputes when you want to check the condition of the property or make repairs.
11. Renewal terms will be necessary in your lease. What rights, if any, does the tenant have to renewal of the lease, including any rent escalation clauses.
This isn’t everything, but these are the most important things you need to cover in your lease documents. You might combine both the DIY approach and an attorney, taking your lawyer some draft forms you like and asking to have them reviewed and amended to protect your interests.