Drafting Your Next Lease: Protect You & Your Property

It’s sad, but true: not every lease you have will be successful. As much as you may think you have found the perfect tenants, you really don’t know until after they have moved out. It is important that you do everything possible before they move in to protect yourself and your property. This means treating the time after they show interest in the property and before they sign the lease very seriously. Once they sign, you have very little leverage to get them out, even if you find out there may be a problem. Use this time to do mind due diligence. Do everything you can to get things off on the right foot. There are certain things you should do before your next tenant signs their lease.

There are certain expenses in the real estate world that are worth every penny. Having a quality real estate attorney review your lease is one of them. Your lease is the single greatest layer of protection you have on your rental property. It is not that difficult to find a generic lease online. While you may think you are saving a few dollars, you are really putting your property at risk. All it takes is one bad tenant, or just one incident in the property to cause problems. Most of these issues are resolved amicably, but if they escalate you need a good lease to revert back to. If the lease was worded poorly or has items missing, you have little legal recourse to work with. A real estate attorney will know which items you need to have on the lease. This may cost you a couple bucks and take a little longer to go through, but if something happens you will be glad you spent the money.

One of the main benefits of a good lease is that it protects you from the unexpected. The odds of a tree hitting your roof or someone falling down the stairs are rare, but they do happen. Before you discuss terms and numbers with your tenant, you need to make sure they understand the lease. The main purpose of a lease is to protect you. If your tenants have an issue with some of the wording, it is better to find out about it before they move in. This is something that is too important just to sweep under the rug. If you took the time and effort to put something on the lease, you need to enforce it. You may have to explain why something is included or why you may be asking for something, but consider the alternative. If something happens to the property and there is a dispute, it could take months to get resolved. During this time, your tenant may feel like they don’t need to pay their rent anymore. Lawyers get involved, all the while no money is coming in. By covering all your bases on the lease and reviewing it completely, you can avoid these issues down the road.

After a prospective tenant shows interest in the property, you want to send an application and lease as quickly as possible. Assuming the application checks out, you need to make sure they are on the same page with everything. By sending over copy of the lease for review, you can prepare your tenant for the next meeting. You should plan on meeting at the property to review the lease and walk through the unit. If there are items that are important to you, now is the time to go over them. Evictable items like smoking, parking, noise, pets and usage should be initialed under the section on the lease. This is to make no mistake as to the consequences of any actions. It is important to stress to your tenant to ask any questions if they have any. You want them to be just as comfortable with the lease as you. Don’t let questions or concerns linger. If it is something that you need answered, don’t sign the lease until you are ready. It is better to wait a day or two than sign a lease with an issue hanging over your head.

One of the ways to tell that your tenant is serious about the property is with how promptly they respond. If you are meeting on a Tuesday night, they should be ready to sign a lease and have security checks ready. If they meet at the property without a check or ask if you can wait until next week, this could be a bad sign of things to come. In order to avoid this, you need to set clearly defined terms and dates. Of course you can be flexible in the event of an unexpected emergency, but you also need to stand your ground. An otherwise solid tenant may appear perfect, but if they don’t pay on time it could be a sign of things to come. Postponing checks and dates is an indicator that this may happen moving forward. Even if you are getting close to the end of your current lease, you should never let the calendar dictate your next tenant. It is always better to wait a week or two than take on someone you aren’t completely sold on.

From the time you show your rental to when you sign the lease is critical. The work you do now could impact the next year, or longer. Keep your lease updated and remember that they are looking for a rental just as badly as you want to find a tenant.