Do You Have Enough Landlord Protection in Your Lease?
As you know, a lease or rental agreement is the contract that governs your landlord – tenant relationship. A good “landlord lease” should provide a set of rules that protect you from common and some uncommon problems that arise during your rental term with a tenant.
Below are seven highly recommended clause that I have found to be extremely helpful to me over and over again.
LPA Lease Clause # 3, Late Fees is one of the most active clauses that frequently need to be enforced for most landlords. Without this clause, you are not legally able to enforce collecting a late fee, so it is very important to have in your lease. I am thankful for this clause because it not only covers us for an initial late fee, but it also provides the tenant with an incentive to hurry up and pay the late fee and the rent by imposing a “Daily Late Fee” that starts one or two days after the initial late fee is due.
The clause also provides for a “bounced check” or NFS charge, which covers the landlord for fees in the event of a dishonored rent check.
A very important detail that is often left out of many leases is “Added Rent” or “Additional Rent”. You should always classify unpaid late fees and other charges like bounced check fees as “Added Rent”. That makes makes those charges legally collectible as rent. If you really wanted to, (I’m not saying you should), you can evict a tenant for unpaid late fees classified as “Added Rent” even if they’ve paid the rent each month.
Many landlords don’t like to give the tenant a discount for paying the rent on time or early. The sentiment is: “Why should I reward the tenant for doing something they agreed to do anyway?” I agree with the sentiment, but I have to disagree with the reality of it. I would rather have the bulk of my rents come in a week to 5 days before the first of the month. I usually build a $5. or $10. early payment discount into every lease.
Good responsible tenants want that discount and have a reason to pay early. It sure beats sending late notices and chasing the rent each month. More importantly it saves my valuable time and gives me peace of mind too.
If you don’t have this clause already in your lease, you can also present your tenants with an Early Payment Discount Voucher.
In the words of the late Nick Koon, a landlord guru and mentor of mine, “No pet ever improved a rental property.” The LPA Lease has a standard No Pet clause.
In the event I decide to accept a tenant with a pet, I require a Pet Agreement Addendum to spell out the specific rules of conduct and care needed to protect the rental property. The Pet Agreement explains that the privilege of having the pet may be revoked if the tenant does not uphold his responsibility.
LPA Lease clause #9 instructs the tenant on maintenance and repairs in detail. This clause has saved me many times in various ways. It includes policy concerning how presentable the property must be for the purpose of showing once notice is given to vacate. A messy or damaged property can prevent you from re-renting.
The clause also requires the tenant to be responsible for minor repairs under a certain determined amount of money. Painting is not allowed without the owners approval. If I find the tenant is not upholding his responsibilities, I will notify him with a Lease Violation Notice.
Do you maintain the grounds or does your tenant. The Grounds clause makes the tenant responsible for the exterior maintenance of your rental property. Part of being my tenant means taking on many of the responsibilities of a homeowner. Taking care of the property with pride is one of them. The clause states that if the grounds are neglected, the landlord may correct any problems or hire a landscaper at the tenant’s expense.
I use the Grounds Violation Notice to enforce this clause.
I am thankful for our appliance clause in the LPA Lease. It makes the tenant fully responsible for all the appliances. This clause has saved me countless time over the years, because appliance are sometimes high maintenance items. Especially washers and dryers! My policy is to explain this clause to the tenants when they sign the lease. I tell them many tenants bring their own appliances. We are not in the appliance business, and all of the appliances are in excellent working order and we expect them to be returned that way. If the tenant wishes to replace our appliance with his or her own, we will remove our appliance and they can take their appliance with them when they leave. Most of the time they leave their appliance. If your lease doesn’t have an appliance clause, The LPA’s Appliance Agreement can come in handy.
A common call you hear from your tenants might be about toilets or plumbing stoppages. I love the plumbing stoppage clause because it has practically eliminated plumbing stoppage calls for us. It is the tenant’s waste in the lines and the tenant should be responsible for keeping the waste lines clean. Even if you don’t use the LPA Lease, the Plumbing Stoppage & Drain Maintenance Notice can be very helpful.