In our previous posting we talked about screening potential tenants and finding just that right one. Now let's get a lease. You might be tempted to just agree to terms orally and shake hands and while that can be legally binding, oral agreements often lead to ambiguity about the obligations of each party since memories fade over time. A well written, signed lease is best to lay out your and your tenant's obligations. We have a Florida attorney prepare all of our leases to make sure we comply with any specifics of our state and changing law. I'm not suggesting you must use an attorney, however if you use a pre-made lease you got online, make sure that it's up to date and complies with Florida law.
At the mimimum, a lease must include:
- Name of landlord
- Name of Tenant(s)
- Property description
- Amount of rent
- Start date
- Granting clause: Landlord hereby leases to tenant...
And while Late Fees, Security Deposit, Last Month’s Rent, Bad Check Fee are not provided by law, they should be provided for by lease. Speaking of last month's rent, taking one keeps your security deposit just that, a security deposit to cover damages. In this economy, coming up with last month's rent in advance can be difficult so you might allow the renter to pay it over the first number of months of the lease.
Specify in your lease that the property is to be used for only residential, non business, private housing purposes only. Be very clear as to who is responsible for what on the property. If the tenant is going to be responsible for lawn care or certain repairs, specify that in the lease. Your lease should also allow you to make periodic inspections of the property which might be the same time you do preventive maintenance.
If you are going to allow pets, you would typically add a pet addendum to the lease that specifies the terms and conditions for keeping a pet on your property as well as details about the pet(s).
You want to think of the lease as the source of answers to questions that might arise during the time they rent from you. There is much more that should in a lease then we can discuss here so I do suggest you consult with an attorney to make sure you cover all your bases.