Monday, February 16, 2015

The Lease

A lease is the written legal agreement between a tenant and landlord, property manager, or property owner. Be careful when dealing with any legal document, as they represent binding terms. Certain information is necessary within the contents of the lease document, but sections can be tailored to match your (the landlord’s) specific preferences and that of the property. At Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, we know the importance of this document and cannot stress it enough. It is the basis for what youyou’re your tenant expect from one another. The Internet houses an abundance of sample leases, which you can use either as guides to write a tailored lease. A lawyer can also draw up a lease for a nominal fee.

The required sections of a lease are:
  • The parties involved
  • Property location
  • Lease term
  • Rental amount
  • Acknowledgment or signature

The first section, parties involved, is simply a clarification of the names of the tenant and the landlord.  The property location should be listed in as detailed a description as possible. Include the unit number with the street address. The lease term should include the date that the tenant can take possession of the property and when she/he will have to vacate or renew the lease. The rental amount can be listed as a weekly, monthly, or annual fee — monthly is most common. Lastly, the lease must be signed by the tenant and the landlord, property manager, or property owner to be valid.

Within the section of the lease including the rental amount, it is advisable to detail additional terms. The deposit amount should be clearly stated in this section. The circumstances in which the deposit can be used can be explained in a separate section. The late payment policy can be included with the rental amount, or it could have its own addendum. The latter is more common.

Although a pet policy is not a necessary section in the lease, at Jason Cohen Pittsburgh, we advise you to include it in as much detail as possible. If an additional deposit is required for pets, describe it in this section. If pets are allowed, detail the types and sizes of the allowed and restricted pets. Consider all types of pets — from mice and hamsters to cats and dogs. Even take into account exotic pets, such as lizards and monkeys — you never know what you’ll encounter renting out a property. While many people do not consider fish a problem when it comes to rental unit, the size of aquarium should be limited to what the floor can support. Research the types of pets that residents may have before writing this section to be sure to cover all situations. Of course, the pet policy can be a simple “no pets allowed, ” but you may find the tenant pool shrinks with this strict rule. 

Sometimes a tenant will allow friends or family to visit or stay for an extended period. You can choose to include a section limiting the time that a guest can stay. Fifteen days is a common term for a guest. Detail the circumstances in which this can be allowed. For instance, a tenant caring for an ailing mother in the apartment can be viewed differently than a friend crashing on the couch for six months. Punishments for breaching this rule can either be listed in this section or in a section allotted to breach of contract for any reason. 

The words written in a lease agreement can be as important as the tenant’s signature. Including the mandatory parts of a contract make the agreement legal. Adding additional sections tailored to the property and your preferences will minimize issues later on in the renting process. 

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