10 Jan 15 Policies To Include in All Rental Agreements
The connection you have with your renters begins and ends with the rental agreement. This is where you outline the boundaries of this connection and the policies for renting a property.
When you think about the policies for renting your property, you should focus on sensible choices that look after your property and protect it. These policies should be upfront and clearly detailed in your rental agreement. When done properly, your renters have a legal requirement to follow and not to break them.
If you are having a hard time coming up with all the policies you would like to include in your rental agreement, look at these 15 policies as a good place to start.
While it is very clear that a tenant needs to pay rent, how and when they do so is up to you to make very understandable and unmistakable. The biggest policy you need to put in place is to specify when the rent is due (typically the first day of the month), as well as making policies for the issue of paying rent late. If you would like to extend or establish a grace period, you should also include this, should any justifying times come up.
You should also clarify exactly how you are required to get paid. If you are wanting to be paid by check, make absolutely clear where it should be dropped off or mailed to and include what the postmark date should be. If you choose to use an online service to collect rent, be sure to clearly include those details as well.
2. Renewing and giving notice
When the time is close that the end of a lease agreement is approaching, giving your current renters thirty days notice is very standard. This pertains to both the renewing of a lease or to end the lease and move out. Making this a routine part of your lease agreements help to keep things uniform in nature. It helps both you and the tenant be informed with how they will progress with the lease when the end gets close.
When this time is coming near on whether to renew or not, give your current renters a notice in writing. In doing so, it gives you the chance to bring up any changes that you might be making to the rental terms and policies.
This is a very important policy that needs to have the consequences clearly defined should your renter break the lease agreement. Lease-breaking can cause a great disruption for you, so it is best to have this policy in place so that you aren’t dealing with it when it randomly happens. Getting ahead of the situation and having a policy in writing is a great safeguard to have.
There are multiple different ways that a renter can break their lease and it is imperative that you have the consequences for each clary defined. Think of situations like a renter not paying rent for multiple months, or breaking a no pet policy, or they are not following the policy on maintaining the property, or you are getting calls about them being too loud? What happens if they need to or want to move out early?
First, to be safe, look up any state laws regarding these manners and then you can choose what the fair and justifiable consequences will be applied to each situation.
4. Requesting renters insurance
Requesting that your tenants have renters insurance is not a requirement, but it will cover them and their belongings. It will also take any blame off of you should something ultimately happen. Having renters insurance will also direct all calls to the insurance company as to what is to be done and how it is handled if something were to someday happen.
5. Management of damages
This policy is mainly to make the renters informed on what happens after they move out and you find damages. You are basically reminding them of a common procedure but also making it clear the outcome without them finding any disagreements with it.
The policy should state that if you find any damage to the property during your move out inspection that they did not bring to you beforehand, in writing, that is beyond normal wear and tear, the money to make any repairs will come directly from the security deposit.
6. Maintenance requests
This policy will help your tenant understand the process of how to handle an issue if something gets damaged or breaks. This policy can include a list of the different types of issues that you can be contacted for, as well as what is considered an immediate emergency. It should also include the best possible way for them to reach you and how quickly you will be able to reply.
An email account specifically made for all regular maintenance requests is a smart way to have everything in writing and have you be able to respond in a timely manner. All emergency requests should have the tenant call you.
7. Upkeep of the property
This is where you need to clearly state what you expect from your renter as far as your intentions of them and also a place to clearly state who cares for what. If your property has a yard, make it very clear who is to take care of the yard and also what the expected image of the property is to be.
If you do not wish to have any cars parking on the grass, this is the part of the lease agreement where you would state this. How to handle trash, what is allowed and not allowed on the front or back patio, pets in the yard, these are all things to clearly include in your rental agreement.
It is completely up to you whether you want to allow pets in your rental or not. Whether you choose to or not to, you need to have a pet policy in your lease agreement. No pets saves you the issue of dealing with stains, noise complaints, additional wear and tear. But again, if this is your choice, you need to clearly state that there is a no pet policy.
If you do want to allow pets, your policy needs to be very specific. This policy needs not apply to just cats and dogs, think of fish, guinea pigs/hamsters, birds or reptiles. You need to include very clear rules about the number of pets, the type of pets, the size of pets, what breed restrictions you may have, and any and all fees associated with having pets. When dealing with animals who will be outside, also include a policy regarding the proper disposal of pet waste.
If your rental property is in a neighborhood and not an apartment building, you may not have set quiet hours like apartments often will. But to be sure that you will not be receiving noise complaints, it’s a good idea to put quiet hours in place. This will help keep the neighbors of the tenants appreciative and also prevent loud events or parties from going on into the small hours of the morning. Each city has their own set of quiet hours but feel free to place your own into action. Sensible hours usually start later in the evening and go until early in the morning.
10. Painting and wall decor
Oftentimes, renters will want to hang pictures or other home decor to make their new space feel more inviting. Sometimes they even have the request to paint the walls of the interior. You can allow both or none, the choice is yours. But make sure that you clearly state that the walls need to have all holes filled upon the ending of the lease agreement. If you do allow them to paint, you may give them paint samples to choose from or come to you with paint swatches and approve them. If you wish to have the walls painted back to their original color upon the end of the lease agreement, make this a policy as well.
11. Illegal substances
Just because illegal substances are in fact illegal doesn’t mean that your renters won’t necessarily keep them out of your property. It is absolutely best to remind and restate the fact that they are indeed illegal and getting caught with any on your property will have major repercussions and possibly even eviction if you choose to do so.
Also outline the fact that neighbors, yourself, law enforcement, or anyone walking by that notices illegal drug activity counts as getting caught.
You may also include a policy about alcoholic beverages and the use of cigarettes on the property. For example, where cigarette butts should be placed, and where it is acceptable to and not to smoke.
12. Business from home
Working from home these days is much different than having a job in your home. Many people do work from home, often teleworking, but have a policy in place if you do not wish your tenant to conduct their personal business out of your property.
Some states do in fact allow subletting. Even if it is legally allowed, you can put a policy in the lease agreement to forbid it. Subletting often doesn’t allow you to check on who is moving into your property and it won’t allow you to check and review any sublet lease agreement they sign.
If you are okay with allowing your tenant to sublease, create a policy that allows you to be involved in the process. You can require that all possible sublet applications get submitted to you in writing and that you ultimately have the final say in who is accepted.
The same policy that applies to subletting can also apply to your current tenant wanting to have a roommate. These policies are in place to keep you as involved as possible to protect your property. If you allow your tenant to have a roommate in the middle of their lease, put in the policy that you have the right to refuse anyone you don’t see fit and that the roommate would have to go through the same application process as a new renter would.
15. Violation of policies
There isn’t a standard policy when it comes to violating policies in a lease agreement but you should include one final place reiterating just how serious it is to break any of the policies that you have outlined in your lease agreement. Make sure that you double check your policies and you have included any consequences in every policy and remind them that they are in fact legally obligated to abide by them.
Making policies for renting a property doesn’t make you a stickler. Policies are put in place to protect your property and almost all are common sense guidelines that ensure you have a good relationship with your tenant. These policies will make it easier for you to worry less about how your property is being treated and you can have more peace of mind knowing your tenant will handle themselves correctly while renting from you.
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