Your lease agreement should be like a manual for tenants. Besides the terms of the lease, it should identify the different owner and tenant responsibilities. For your tenants, the focus will be on how they are to take care of your property.
It is important that the tenant understands these responsibilities. When a complaint is received from a tenant, the first thing a landlord should consider is whether the complaint is addressed in the lease. If it is not, maybe it should be.
Common Tenant Responsibilities That Should be in Your Lease
Paying Rent on Time
The most significant tenant responsibility is to pay their rent on time. Certainly, this one is pretty obvious and for most people the main purpose of the lease.
All of the utility services and who is responsible for payment should be listed. If there are shared meters identify if the tenant can expect to be billed and how.
Identify if there is assigned parking. Also, authorized vehicle types also should be a part of the lease.
Who is approved to occupy the property? This is very important and is one of the most common lease violations. The tenant responsibilities are a commitment not to house unapproved occupants.
The lease needs to cover pet policies and approvals. A set of pet rules is a great addition to any lease if a tenant has an approved pet.
Use of the Rental
The tenant is to only use the rental for a residence. Any exception would need to be noted in the lease (i.e. a home business).
What to do in an Emergency
Emergencies do not allow for a lot of time. The tenant needs to have instructions in the lease, and multiple other places, as to how to handle an emergency in the rental. For instance, not only are our emergency instructions in the lease, but they are also posted in the home. Additionally, the tenant is given a large magnet with this information.
Maintenance reporting is a big part of the tenant responsibilities. The lease should be specific as to how to report issues with the property and what will be considered a part of the tenant responsibilities.
Many leases identify a small amount that are repairs that will be the tenant responsibility. The purpose of this rule is to make sure tenants are not calling for light bulb replacement or smoke alarm batteries. These minor repairs could be symptomatic of a larger problem where, of course, the owner should take responsibility. Setting a dollar amount may cause your tenant to think first before reporting minor items they could handle themselves.
It is a great idea to be specific in your lease as to what is expected of the tenant with regard to maintenance of the property. Depending on the property, some or all of the following and the landlord’s expectations should be addressed.
- Outdoor maintenance of the lawn and landscaping
- painting of the property
- furnace filters
- plumbing stoppages
- reporting mold
Some landlords require renters insurance. Some recommend it. Either way, be clear with your tenants that their personal property is their responsibility and in no way does the owner or landlord have any obligation to them if it is lost, stolen, or destroyed.
Smoking and Offensive Odors
Do yourself a major favor and outlaw smoking in any rental. Set a perimeter of how far from the property a tenant has to go to smoke. This tenant responsibility will save you thousands when the property is returned.
Offensive odors are primarily from smoking, pets, and cooking. These are a more common complaint in shared wall rentals.
Simply state that rekeying of the property by the tenant is not allowed. It is the tenant responsibility that the landord can gain access to the property- giving proper notice with the exception of emergencies.
Contractor Appointments and Inspections
It is a firm tenant responsibility to keep appointments made to allow maintenance of the home. Additionally, the tenant must agree to provide access for landlord inspections.
Expectations on how to Return Possession at the end of the Lease
Usually the rental should be returned in the same condition as it was when the tenant first occupied it. It is a good addition to your lease to provide instructions as to how to return the keys, door openers, and any other item on loan from the owner.
Your Lease – Does It Need to be Updated?
This article provides a comprehensive list of tenant responsibilities that should be in your lease. Now, take a few minutes and review your lease and make plans to address any that are missing. If you need help, please contact us. WILMOTH Group has been providing property management services to Indianapolis since 1994.