As a landlord, you can make your job much easier by setting specific rules for your tenants to follow. These rules, if set down within a rental agreement or lease, will give you legal recourse should your tenants fail to follow them. Make sure you set clear rules for your tenants and that they understand them fully before you let them move in. You cannot make money with your rental units if your tenants misuse or destroy your property.
Once you’ve laid down the rules, enforce them fairly and regularly, without favoritism toward any tenants. For example, if you have a no-pets clause in your rental agreement, you must enforce this rule with all of your tenants.
Your rules should cover the following areas:
1. When the rent is due and when it is considered late. This rule will discourage tenants from trying to get by with late payments. Many landlords set a penalty fee if the rent is not received by a certain date. This penalty can be a percentage of the rent or a set dollar amount per day until the rent is paid in full. Check state laws to see if there are guidelines regarding how much you can charge for late rental payments.
2. Your right of entry. In many states, the law requires you to give your tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering their rented dwelling. It’s a good idea to put this provision in your rental agreement to avoid any confusion. Review your state’s law to see how much notice you will need to give.
3. What stays and what goes when the tenant vacates. If you are offering a furnished or partially furnished dwelling, clearly state what is considered a part of the dwelling and may not be removed. This will give you legal recourse should items be removed.
4. Garbage removal. One of the biggest problem areas for landlords is improper removal of garbage. In addition to being unsanitary, uncollected garbage makes your rental property look run-down. Your rules should clearly state how frequently garbage must be removed and where garbage should be placed for removal.
5. Cleanliness guidelines. A dirty apartment or dwelling is a health hazard, not only for the tenant in question but also for surrounding tenants. If you want to avoid putting up with a slovenly tenant, establish guidelines about cleanliness so you have the option of evicting any tenant who disregards these rules.
6. Pets and related policies. If you plan to allow your tenants to keep pets, state what kind of pets you will allow. For example, if you do allow cats but not dogs, state this in your agreement. Or if you limit the size of dog your tenants may own, this should also be stated. In addition, state how pets must be cared for on the property. For example, dogs must be on leashes when in hallways or on the property’s common grounds.
7. Length of notice. How much notice do you want your tenants to provide when they plan to leave your rented dwelling? Most landlords prefer around 30 days but this is not set in stone. Whatever you decide, state it clearly in your rental agreement.
8. Proper use of fixtures. Instead of repeatedly repairing fixtures because a tenant is not using them properly, you can state what constitutes proper and improper use. This will give you the option to not pay for repairs of a fixture that has been improperly used.
9. End-of-term restoration. Your tenants should restore the dwelling to the condition it was in when they began renting from you. State this clearly to avoid misunderstandings at the end of the rental or lease term.
10. Deposit information. If you require a security deposit, state what will happen if your tenants damage the dwelling unit. For example, if someone puts a hole in a wall and it costs you $100 to fix, state that the amount will be deducted from their deposit.
Setting down these rules can help ensure that the renting experience will be pleasant for both you and your tenants.