What Should I Mention to My Lawyer About Rental Agreements?

There are a couple things you can do to create your rental agreements. If you don’t have one you can use a generic one purchased from legalzoom or a legal stationery store. However, there is something better you can do. Write your own contract taking the examples and suggestions of the ones you purchased and add your own articles (don’t plagiarize). THEN, go to your lawyer and have them write it up and/or approve of the new one you created. Never use a boiler plate.

litems to discuss with your lawyer

What Do I Need to Consider Regarding The Outside area?

Most contracts cover such things as landscaping; but you need to say things such as in and on the soil or grounds. A business partner of mine, many years ago, had what he thought was a rock solid contract. The woman he rented to moved out, and cleaned the place – but her boyfriend buried cars and car parts in the back yard costing him several thousand dollars to clean up and remove.

When he went to small claims, he lost because his contract only referred to lawn and shrubs; nothing about burying stuff in the back yard. Bogus! of course it is; but entirely preventable – include a mention of property in your contract.

How Do I Refund If I don’t Have the Address of Ex-Tenant?

My lawyer recommended putting in a sentence about the tenant is responsible for informing the landlord of any new address. The reason I need this in my state is because I am required to refund deposits or send out an itemized list within 14 days of them leaving.

Your state/county might be the same – if so, be sure and include this.

How Long Should you Allow a Tenant’s Guest to Stay?

Usually, a landlord will require a guest to fill out an application after 14-days. But for the most part, this is a landlord decision. There may be some additional considerations like insurance; that you should review to see who is covered and under what circumstances.

Should a Lawyer put in a Clause about Renter’s Insurance?

It’s unlikely that your insurance will cover your tenants property. For this reason, you should include in your rental agreement that a tenant should obtain their own insurance. Additionally, there are some states that actually require this to be in the contract.

The average renter will pay about $25/month for renters insurance.

How Do I Address Appliances in Contract?

Misunderstanding on appliances can lead to disgruntled renters.

Within your agreement, have your lawyer put in a clause about who is responsible for which appliances and who is responsible for maintaining them if they break. Most landlords will cover refrigerators, furnaces, and air conditioning. If you supply any appliances as a gesture of kindness; be very clear in your rental agreement.

An example might be, washer and dryer, you supply them because you have them but do not intend on replacing if they should break. A second example would be an incentive gift such as a TV; do you really want to be fixing it if two years down the road it quits working.

Decide before the renter is in, how you want this addressed.

Can I Evict a Tenant For a Drug Arrest?

Within Each State, County, and City are eviction laws, but they can vary significantly. In general, most will allow eviction for drug arrests – but some might be only with drug crime convictions. A good landlord will need to check with their lawyer on the statutes in their area.

Consider this, your tenant is arrested for drug possession, but they are not found guilty yet; they need to go through a trial. This can be months. Check with your lawyer if you can add that it’s considered a reason for eviction. Don’t just add it to your contract; your lawyer should look at it and advise you on whether that can be included in your agreement or not.

Two counties over it says I can evict for crime or non-payment. What does that mean? Conviction or arrest? or just my suspicion? Have it clearly written in your contract based on your lawyer’s interpretation and suggestion.

Should I mention Cars and Oil in my Tenant Agreement?

Most boiler plate rental agreement will address this – but they address it as asthetics. To avoid having to do environmental studies or remediation it is recommended that your tenant agreement address the handling of gas/oil/antifreeze and any liquids that might harm the environment.

Note: Speaking of cars – I once had a tenant who broke a water pipe because he parked on the lawn – consider including what areas are considered parking areas.

broken down car with lots of oil

Am I responsible For a Broken Window or is the Tenant?

A tenant can be held responsible for a broken window if they caused it. If a tenant did not cause it; or you can’t prove it was them; it will generally fall to the landlord to fix. Most insurances will cover this; but of course, there will be a deductible which probably makes it not worth submitting the claim.

Your lawyer will need to advise you on how this should be worded or if it should be and whose responsibility they think it would be.

What Are the Eviction Requirement Before I Can Evict?

Evictions vary from state to state, county, and city. In some counties you can only evict for crimes and non-payment. There are some states which have strict laws about evicting for non-payment. As of this writing, there are federal laws regarding evictions during covid. Discuss this with a lawyer and make sure anything necessary is in your contract. Have your eviction contract preplanned and approved if you are doing it yourself

What Should I Do With The Belongings of An Evicted Tenant?

Generally, most states will require you put their items; undamaged on the curb when they are evicted. This may result in an issue if they get rained on so be prepared to cover them. For a non-evicted, but former tenant, you may be required to store their items in with a storage company for a number of days. Since it will vary from state to state it is a question you should ask your lawyer.

If you are required to store their items; find out for how long and whether you have to sign a lease for storing. Most of the time you will not be able to sign a lease for your tenant. Some storage areas do not have a long-term requirement but do find out if you have any legal obligations past the first month so you don’t get sued by the storage company.

According to my county, I have to notify the ex-tenant where their belongings are stored and the number of days they have to claim it.

Does your rental agreement state anything on this? Should it?

Do I Have to Allow an Emotional Support Pet?

As a General Rule, you as a landlord, Do have to accept an Emotional Support Animal; however, just because someone says their pet is an emotional support animal does not make it so.

Discuss with lawyer if it should be mentioned in your contract.

You can review the Emotional Support rules here


Is An Inspection Sheet a Requirement to a Rental Agreement?

An inspection sheet should always be used.

In General, an inspection sheet is not a requirement. But experienced landlords know to always use one. Using an inspection sheet will guarantee that both the tenant and landlord agree as to the condition of the property prior to the tenant moving in.

Walk with the tenant in each room and document anything they find that is damaged (such as a spot in the carpet) so they will not be charged for it. Have the tenant sign or initial and keep it in their file. Include some pictures of the property inside and out.

When they leave do a walk through with the same document.

Do I need a Scoring System for a Tenant Application?

To avoid the appearance of treating people differently have some clear rules for scoring a potential tenant. If they meet that score, they are in, if they don’t then they are not. If there are any exceptions you should note so in the policy you have established for scoring tenants. An example would be if you decide in a down turned market to lower your requirements.

Make sure your lawyer reviews for their opinion.

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