Every Lancaster landlord’s goal is to have their rentals occupied by good tenants.
That is, tenants who pay their rent on time, follow the rules, keep common areas clean, and refer other good tenants to occupy any vacant units.
A clear rental agreement is an important tool to make sure all expectations are met between a landlord and a tenant.
A lease spells out each party’s obligations during the tenancy; like the amount of rent due at the end of the month. It becomes legally binding the moment you and your tenant sign it.
A specific rental agreement will help prevent confusion and misunderstanding during the term of the tenancy.
We wrote this article to help you sketch out this important document.
Keep on reading to know the 7 points you must include in your Lancaster rental agreement.
1. Tenants’ Names
While it may seem obvious, many landlords forget to include the name of every adult living in the property.
Including all names makes each tenant legally responsible for the agreed upon terms of the lease.
This means that you can legally seek rent from either one of them should the other become unable to pay it.
It also means that you can evict them if they seriously violate a lease term.
Also, remember to include both names of a married or unmarried couple.
2. Occupancy Limits
This is an important term that your Lancaster rental agreement should include.
You need to clearly state that the property should only be occupied by tenants who have signed a lease with you.
That is, tenants who have passed your screening process.
The last thing you want is for your tenant to move in with a person you haven’t approved of.
This could be a relative, a friend or a lover.
With this clause in place, you’ll guarantee your right to evict anyone who lives in your property without your consent.
3. Tenancy Term
Your rental agreement should also specify the length of time a particular tenancy will run.
A lease term can either be fixed-term or month to month:
- A fixed-term lease lasts for a specific amount of time, usually up to 6 or 12 months.
- Month-by-month leases, on the other hand, run from the first of the month to the first of the following month.
Your choice should depend on the amount of flexibility you want, and the length of time you want the tenant to stay.
If you don’t want to be tied up in a long-term arrangement, go for a month-to-month arrangement.
But, if you want a more stable and secure arrangement, go for a fixed-term lease.
4. Pet Rules
As a landlord, you’ve likely given thought as to whether or not you want to allow pets into your rental property.
Now, each option has its own set of strengths and weaknesses.
Allowing pets can give you access to a larger pool of tenants.
According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68% of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, have a pet.
The downside of allowing pets can mean you have more wear and tear in your property.
And, that means higher maintenance costs, which also means fewer profits left for you.
Luckily, most of these problems can be solved by having a pet policy in place.
The policy should contain special restrictions, such as a limit on the type, size and number of pets allowed.
5. Landlord Entry
Once you rent your property, you give up the right to enter the rental unit as you please.
The landlord-tenant law gives your tenant the right to the quiet enjoyment of their home.
If you violate this right, your tenant can accuse you of harassing them.
That said, as a Lancaster landlord, you have a legal right to access the property to carry out your lease obligations.
Such obligations include to conduct property inspection and make property maintenance calls and repairs.
Aside from defining your right to access the property, you should also state the amount of notice you’ll provide before entering.
While California doesn’t set the specific time, it does say that the notice must be reasonable.
The entry should also be during normal business hours.
For example, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. during weekdays, and between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. during weekends.
6. Repairs and Maintenance
As a landlord, you aren’t the only one with the responsibility of ensuring that the rental unit stays reasonably maintained.
California landlord-tenant law also requires tenants to keep their end of the bargain.
Common tenant responsibilities include:
- Notify the landlord promptly of conditions that are defective or dangerous on the property.
- Fix things that they have broken or damaged.
- Use facilities and systems, such as heating, sanitary, plumbing, HVAC, properly.
- Keep plumbing fixtures as clean as their condition permits.
- Dispose of garbage, rubbish, and other waste in a manner that is clean and safe.
- Keep the rental unit as clean and safe as the condition of the premises allows.
Remember, you can only hold your tenant liable for damage resulting in their negligence and/or careless.
For example, missing door handles, broken bathroom tiles, or stained carpet or linoleum.
You cannot expect them to account for damage resulting from normal wear and tear.
Good examples of this include loose door handles, faded paint, or worn out carpet and linoleum.
7. Rent, Deposits, and Fees
Your lease or rental agreement also needs to specify important things like rent, deposits, and fees.
When it comes to rent, make sure you are clear on:
- The amount of rent due at the end of the month.
- When, where and how it’s to be paid.
- The amount of late fee, if applicable, and when it comes into effect.
In addition, be clear on the limit, use and return of security deposits.
There you have it. The 7 important things you should include in your Lancaster rental agreement!
Clarifying these important details will help you avoid unnecessary confusion and potential legal hassles.