Landlords need to have a strong lease in place that lays out the expectations for the property and protects the owner, the investment, and the tenant. Many landlords make the mistake of downloading any lease template they find on the internet. This is a big mistake. The lease needs to be specific to the state of Virginia and its laws. It also needs to be specific to your rental property.
There are a few things you should absolutely expect to see in your lease agreement.
Identifying the Unit and the Parties Bound by the Lease
First things first, your lease needs to identify the landlord and the tenant. Each party to the lease should have their name and address listed. The property also needs to be identified with an address. Mention what kind of home it is; such as a single-family home, a unit in a duplex, or a condominium in an HOA community. If you’re working with a property manager, make sure that your lease includes contact information for the management company.
Rent Payment Terms and Instructions
If there’s ever a dispute about rent or when it’s supposed to be paid, you’ll want to refer to your lease agreement. Make sure the lease states how much rent is to be paid every month, how it should be paid, and when it’s considered late. Some leases will have a grace period. If there are late fees assessed after a particular date, make sure your lease agreement stipulates what those fees are and how they should be paid. Include other consequences, such as the posting of a late rent notice or a process to begin an eviction.
Landlord and Tenant Responsibilities
The lease is also the appropriate place to list who is responsible for what. Include all the utilities that the tenant must pay, and mention how landscaping and pool care are handled. Generally, the landlord is responsible for providing a safe, habitable, and functional home. The tenant is responsible for maintaining the condition of the property and keeping it clean and in good repair. Make sure your lease informs the tenant that all maintenance and repair items must be reported immediately. You don’t want to face any deferred maintenance.
Policies, Procedures, and Rules
Include all of your policies and procedures. This is the first place you want your tenant to go if they have a question about how they can get their security deposit back, whether they have to pay pet rent, and if there’s any smoking allowed in the property. You’ll want to list all your rules about guests who are not on the lease and how long they can stay. You’ll want to prohibit things that might seem obvious, like drug use or commercial operations. You cannot have too much detail in your lease. It’s better to be explicit.
We can help you with creating strong lease. Contact us at The Wright Choice Richmond Realty Group, and we’ll tell you more.