The lease agreement that you sign with your tenant is the first place either of you will go if there’s a question or a dispute. Therefore, it has to be strong, detailed, and legally compliant.
As professional St. Louis property managers, we’re always surprised when we see a landlord’s lease that is weak or vague or doesn’t do a good job of protecting the landlord’s rights or the investment property.
Make sure you have the right lease in place. Today, we’re sharing some of the dangers you’ll want to avoid when you’re putting together a lease agreement.
Using a Generic Lease Template
You can find almost anything on the internet. There are pages and pages of lease templates that might seem like they cover everything. You might have considered downloading or copying a sample lease that you find online.
Don’t do it. This is dangerous because those leases are often not state-specific. A lease agreement that’s written for California or Florida won’t do you much good in St. Louis. You need a lease that’s legally enforceable in St. Louis and legally compliant with all of Missouri’s landlord and tenant laws. Otherwise, it won’t hold up in court.
Not Including Rent and Deposit Information
Your lease must include a rent collection policy. You don’t want your tenants to claim that they didn’t know when the rent was due and they didn’t know they’d have to pay a late fee. Your lease must include all of the information associated with rent collection, including:
- How much rent is due
- When rent is due
- Whether there’s a grace period
- What the late fees and other penalties are if it’s not paid on time
- How the rent should be paid
When all of this is documented in writing, you can easily expect rent to be paid on time every month.
To avoid legal disputes with the security deposit, you also need to state how much was collected as a deposit and what the tenants will need to do to get that deposit back at the end of the lease.
Forgetting to List All Occupants on the Lease
Every adult who is 18 years of age or older must be listed on the lease and held accountable to its terms. You should also list the minors who will be living in the home. If you have only one person on the lease but there are three people living there, you need to evict those tenants for non-payment of rent. How will you evict the people who are not documented in the lease agreement? Include the names and contact information of all adults and occupants. Don’t let a new person move into the property during the lease term without a screening process and a lease addendum.
Not Being Clear on Tenant Responsibilities and Landlord Expectations
Your lease is the best place to list who is responsible for what. Assuming the tenant needs to pay for utilities, make sure your lease states that tenants must set up their own utility accounts and pay those bills. Include the process for reporting maintenance and list the things tenants are responsible for maintaining, such as air filters and lawns. Be detailed and specific so that your expectations are clear and nothing can be left to individual interpretation.
We recommend that you have a lawyer or a property manager review your lease agreement before you use it. These are only a few of the dangers you could run into, and making a mistake could be costly. Contact us at AMOSO Properties, and we’d be happy to help.