What a landlord should include in a lease

You’ve always wanted to own a multiunit property in Nashville. It’s a great rental market, and you know you’ll be able to find awesome tenants.

But you’ve never rented out a property before, so just what sort of a written agreement, or lease, should you execute with your tenants?

At the minimum, your lease for each of your units should include the following:

  • The names of the adults who will live in the property. Both are legally responsible for the rent and following the terms set out in the lease.

  • Contact information, both for both verbal and written communications. Some communication will be quick – your tenant might ask for you to change a light bulb, for instance – and doesn’t need a written record. Some discussions might need to be on record through writing.

  • The length of the lease term. Note the start and expiration date and the amount of notice the tenant must give to vacate the property.

  • The amount of rate, the due date, and how it is to be paid. Add the fees if paid after the due date or if the bank returns the check

  • The money you are holding for a security deposit, how you can use it (for repairs, for example) and when you will return the balance.

  • A description of the property that designates extras, such as the number of parking spots and areas that can and can’t be accessed.

  • That residents are responsible for damages outside of normal wear and tear. If the resident notices a defect, you should be contacted, especially if it could lead to a hazardous situation.

  • What the resident can and can’t do. Is painting the living room in their favorite color OK? You should require requests to be made in writing and give your approval or disapproval the same way.

  • When you, as the landlord, can enter the property and how much notice you will give in advance.

  • Your rules, such as no smoking inside the unit and no pets.

There are online leases you can download and have your tenants complete but be warned. They might not conform to Tennessee laws, and you probably have terms you either will want to add or delete. An attorney experienced in real estate law can work with you to draft a lease that protects your property and is reasonable for your tenants.

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