Standard lease agreements can work when enforcing a landlord’s rights, like in the case of an eviction. But enforcement is not the only goal. The lease agreement can be a deterrent — and prevent the actions that give rise to evictions in the first place.
For the lease to serve as a deterrent to eviction, tenants must understand specifically what they should and should not do, and the consequences for violating those lease terms. So, it’s worth the time and effort to tailor the lease by adding in provisions that stave off the most common problems, namely overdue rent, property damage and disturbances.
These lease add-ons can cover those bases:
Notice to Tenant
Landlords should sign up to Report Rent Payments to a credit bureau, and incorporate the Notice to Tenant into the lease agreement. That Notice details the consequences of late rent payments and property damage. Because rent payments are reported monthly, this strategy serves as a consistent reminder to tenants that there is a price to pay for bad behavior.
Unless the standard lease lays out the day-to-day conduct rules appropriate for the specific property, add in a House Rules attachment that covers common complaints including parking, noise levels, and use of common areas. Most tenants will go along if they have a clear understanding of the rules.
Entry by Landlord/Inspections
Landlords have a duty to provide quiet enjoyment. It’s important for tenants to know that the landlord is not going to drop by without prior notice. However, it’s also important for tenants to understand there are a few circumstances when they need to allow access. The lease should detail those circumstances: in case of emergency, if the tenant asks, and for a legitimate reason with prior notice — typically at least 24 hours.
Add in the schedule for routine property inspections. Routine inspections are an effective deterrent to property damage. But that only works if the tenant is aware of it from the start.
A guest policy should require long-term occupants to undergo a tenant background check and sign a lease. That policy also needs to address short-term overnight sublets given the popularity of websites like Airbnb. There have been disturbing reports recently of tenants leasing out entire units to overnight guests for parties, and that greatly increases the risk of property damage, disorderly conduct, and other crime.
Work with an experienced landlord attorney when supplementing your standard lease. It’s worth the time and money to get it right — especially if you can avoid evicting your tenant!
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.