How To Create a Rental Agreement That Will Protect You as a Landlord

March 20, 2023

People shaking hands

Renting an apartment isn’t easy, especially if you’re beginning your “career” in the rental business. You need to make sure that you’ve got a nicely written lease. In other words, a lease with clauses that predict as many future situations as possible, protecting you from the irritating consequences of not having such clauses. Sounds a bit obvious, right? You need a rental agreement that will protect you as a landlord. As we’re sure you might assume, you need a good realtor to help with this. However, not many folks can afford such a luxury. If you’re inquiring about tips on writing a lease DIY-style, you’ve come to the right place. In the article you’re about to read, we’ll show you everything you can do to create a rental agreement that protects your rights as a landlord.


#1 Pet-friendly or not?

In your rental agreement, there has to be a section dedicated to which pets (if any) are allowed on the property. Also, if the answer’s positive and you allow pets inside your rental facility, you’ll have to state how many, if there’s a limit. That way, you’ll protect yourself from unpleasant surprises, such as when you discover someone has opened up an unkept zoo inside the place you’re renting. You can always choose a no-pet policy if that’s your thing. Even though many folks might assume you’re some kind of an animal hater, it’s still your right to lay down the rules. Don’t make one of the most common mistakes landlords make.

A dog staring at the camera


#2 State the rules clearly

Let’s simply extend what we’ve talked about in the paragraph above. You’ll have to list what you expect of your tenant(s). For instance, you’ll need to emphasize that there should be no illegal activities inside your home. Ensure you’ve got it all written if you don’t allow smoking inside your rental property’s premises. Also, you’ll need to underline what happens once the tenants break any of the rules you’ve set. Let’s say your tenants fail to abide by the rules of the property. In your rental agreement, you’ll need to state that your tenants are responsible for any legal fees that will come up if you have to reach out to the court to enforce the agreement. That way, you’ll be nicely protected from many issues.


#3 Be very specific about rental terms

In case you didn’t know, a rental agreement that will protect you as a landlord should include all of the following:

  • Rental term. For how long is the agreement valid?
  • The beginning and ending day of the lease.
  • The name(s) of tenant(s). 
  • The maximum number of occupants.
  • The rent amount, due date, and what happens if the date is missed.
  • The amount that is considered a security deposit (essential).
  • Utilities that are/are not included in the rent.
  • Who handles the repairs, when, and in what manner?

Don’t be worried about acting like an overly thorough person. These are all common things that serve as a means of protecting you against various issues. Also, most lease templates possess these, so don’t worry too much about missing any of them. 

A person signing a rental agreement


#4 Include details on property access

That’s right. You’ll need to ensure you’ve included the details about when you, as a landlord, can access your property. Of course, you’ll need to state that it can only be during what you’d call reasonable hours and with proper, prior notice. Also, this clause should include that you have the right to access the property without any notice in case there is an emergency.


#5 What about a disturbance clause?

Oh, and who could forget about this one? You’ll need to guarantee that your tenants behave in a manner that’s not disturbing your neighbors. For instance, you don’t want them playing loud music in the middle of the night while everyone’s trying to get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need to list the hours when your tenants can play louder music, vacuum, or do whatever causes some good old noise. 

A kid shouting into a microphone


#6 Where did I put my keys?

Make sure you have a side document that records each key you’ve given to your property occupants. Let’s say you’ve given them two identical keys for the apartment door, a key to the basement, and a key to the mailbox or the garage. You’ll need their signatures proving that they received all the above mentioned items. Also, this document must include how much your tenants must pay for a key replacement. Most landlords charge from $5 to $15 for this. Lastly, make sure you include this: if the reason why your tenant no longer possesses the keys is a security risk (they’ve lost their purse, for instance), you’ll have to note that the fee for the lock change is their responsibility.


#7 The five-nights rule

A rental agreement that will protect you as a landlord must include how many people can live under your property’s roof. While your tenants are allowed to accept visitors and various guests for something you’d call a reasonable period, you’ll need to state how long that time frame can last. Most renters would recommend you lay down the five-night rule. As one can assume, that should mean no guest can spend more than five nights in a calendar month inside your place.


A little tip before we say goodbye

Before we say goodbye, there’s something we have to note here. Let’s say that your tenant (the only person whose name is in agreement beside you) found their partner in the meantime, and now they want to live together inside your place. In that case, you’ll have to make a new agreement, including their significant other. 


Closing thoughts

That’s everything you need to know about creating a rental agreement that will protect you as a landlord. Hopefully, you’ll create one that leaves no place for surprise scenarios. Also, trust your gut when screening your potential tenants. If something seems fishy, don’t hesitate to consider other candidates. 


Written by, Matthew Lange

Matthew Lange is a freelance writer with his eyes focused on the contemporary real estate market and relocations, regardless of type. You’ll see many of his texts appearing on the helixmoveva.com blog.

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