If you’re unfamiliar with landlord-tenant laws, you might think that anything you put into your leasing contract is what goes. But what matters more are the landlord-tenant laws of your state; they always trump your lease. The following details are helpful if you’re unsure how these laws work for your property.
Learning the Laws
The landlord-tenant laws are different in each state, so it’s important to learn what they are in yours—federal, state, county, and city—and check with your property management company if you have any questions. They will dictate many laws determining rules like when you can enter the property, limits on what you’re allowed to charge for late fees, and the amount of time you have before providing in writing how deposit money is spent, plus a lot more.
What to Include in the Lease
Despite the overriding power of the landlord-tenant laws, not everything is covered in them. That’s where the power of the lease is important.
For example, smoking isn’t covered, so if you don’t want smoking on property, that should be included in the lease. Other areas include whose name in which utilities are set up and who pays for them, cleaning fees when someone moves out, and whether or not pets are allowed (excluding emotional support and service animals—they can’t be used as a reason to deny someone as a tenant).
Finding out what is covered in your state’s landlord tenant laws is helpful in knowing what policies to include in your lease.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
If you need help, a real estate attorney in your area is the best person for writing up your lease. They can review your current lease and/or help create a better or new lease for you. A review is normally a few hundred dollars. And make sure your attorney will have the ability to defend you for lawsuits, evictions, or broken leases, if necessary.