1. Names of All Tenants and Occupants
Every adult who lives in the rental—including both members of a married or unmarried couple—should be named as tenants and sign the lease or rental agreement. Requiring all adult occupants to be official tenants is a form of additional insurance for landlords: Each tenant is legally responsible for paying the full amount of rent and following all other terms of the lease or rental agreement. This means that if one tenant skips out and fails to pay rent, you can legally seek the entire rent from any of the tenants. Also, if one tenant violates the lease or rental agreement, you have the right to terminate the tenancy of all the tenants—not just the offender.
2. Description of Rental Property
Include the complete address of the property (including building and unit number, if applicable). You’ll also want to note any specific storage areas or parking spots that are included. For example, if the rental includes assigned parking, be sure to write in the stall or spot number. Similarly, specify areas that the tenants are not allowed to access (such as a locked shed in the backyard).
3. Term of the Tenancy
Leases create tenancies that terminate after a specific term (usually a year). Whichever you use, be specific: note the start date, the tenancy length, and the expiration date.
4. Rental Price
Don’t just write in the amount of rent—spell out when (typically, the first of the month) and how it’s to be paid, such as by mail to your office. (Make sure you comply with your state’s laws on paying rent.) To avoid confusion, spell out details such as:
Acceptable payment methods, whether you charge a late rent fee, the amount of the fee, and the grace period (if any),
Any charges if rent remains unpaid
5. Security Deposits and Fees
Avoid some of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants by being very clear about:
-The amount of the security deposit (be sure you comply with any security deposit limit laws)
-How you might use the deposit (for example, to cover unpaid rent or repair damage the tenant causes) and how you won’t use it (for example, you won’t accept it in lieu of last month’s rent)
-Whether you expect the tenant to replenish the deposit in the event you have to make a deduction mid-tenancy (for example, if you repair a window the tenant’s child throws a ball through two months into the tenancy)
-When and how you will return the deposit and account for deductions after the tenant moves out (check your local laws on returning security deposits)
-Any nonrefundable fees, such as for cleaning or pets
-It’s also a good idea to include details on where you’ll hold the security deposit and whether you’ll pay interest on the deposit to the tenant.
6. Repair and Maintenance Policies
Your best defence against rent-withholding hassles and battles over security deposits is to clearly explain your repair and maintenance policies, including:
The tenants’ responsibility to maintain clean and sanitary premises and to pay for any damage they cause (excluding normal wear and tear)
A requirement that the tenants alert you to defective or dangerous conditions, with specific details on your procedures for handling complaints and repair requests.
Restrictions on tenant repairs and alterations (for example, prohibit any painting of the unit unless you approve it in writing).