A lease agreement is a contract between someone who owns rental real estate and the people who will reside in the property. Since a lease includes details like how long the tenant can stay, how much rent is due, and what type of maintenance the landlord is responsible for, Baltimore renters must understand everything included in their agreement before signing on the dotted line.
You may think knowing what to include in a rental agreement is enough, but it's also essential for your residents to understand how to read it. Whether you use simple one-page lease agreements or lengthier documents, a Baltimore property management company can help you help your residents understand every aspect of the contract. This resource will go over the basics of how to help tenants understand a residential lease agreement. Read on to learn more!
Meet With Your Tenants in Person
Before signing any documents, we recommend meeting with your prospective renters to review the lease agreement. This is an excellent opportunity to get to know one another and build a rapport before signing a binding contract. You can also use this meeting to go over any questions or concerns they have about the property or the rental arrangement.
Once you are together, read through the entire lease document from beginning to end. While it may seem tedious, it's important that your renters are aware of all clauses and stipulations in the contract to avoid any confusion later. While reading through the document, take some time to highlight a few critical items.
Security Deposit Details
A lease must include information about the security deposit, such as how much it is and when it’s due. The contract should also state what the deposit can be used for (e.g., last month's rent, damages, or other legal uses) and how you’ll return it at the end of their residency.
Failing to include this information is a red flag for renters and can leave you without the documentation you need to withhold the deposit if necessary. Make sure renters understand this section of the rental agreement.
Repair and Maintenance Expectations
Most lease agreements state that the landlord is responsible for major repairs, such as fixing a broken furnace or water heater. The tenant is typically responsible for minor maintenance tasks, like changing lightbulbs, taking out the trash on scheduled days, keeping the lawn and landscaping tidy, keeping the home clean, and more.
It's essential for your residents to know who is responsible for maintenance, repairs, and routine upkeep tasks before signing a lease agreement. Vague or missing language in a lease agreement can cause serious problems. To avoid ambiguity, make sure it's spelled out in the lease agreement and review it with new residents before signing.
Everything Regarding Fees
Beyond upfront security deposit information, renters may be required to pay other necessary fees during their tenancy, such as pet fees, parking fees, returned check penalties, or late payment fees. Renters should be aware of all potential fees to avoid surprises later.
Utilities and Services
Baltimore rental property owners typically require their tenants to set up their utilities, such as electricity, water, trash, cable, and internet, in their name. However, you may choose to include these utilities in the rent price.
If this is the case, make sure this is explicitly stated in the lease agreement. The agreement should also note who is responsible for paying for any monthly services, such as landscaping or snow removal.
Guest and Landlord Access Policies
Your lease contract should state how often guests can stay in the property and how long they are allowed to stay. Also, include language about landlord access to the property.
In most cases, owners are only allowed to enter the property with prior notice and consent from the tenant to conduct routine maintenance, repairs, or inspections. However, there may be exceptions to this rule, such as an emergency or extended vacations when residents are away from the property for long periods of time.
Have a Q&A Session
After reading and going over the lease agreement, it's time to conduct a Q&A session. This is an opportunity for the tenants to ask questions about the property, the rental arrangement, or the contract. It’s also the ideal opportunity to clear any confusion or ambiguity from the agreement.
By taking the time to go over the lease agreement with new renters, you're showing that you're interested in having a good relationship and are willing to help them understand everything about their rental arrangement.
Create a Custom Rental Lease Agreement with Renters Warehouse BW Metro
Before reviewing a lease with renters, we recommend customizing all leases to fit your needs. However, creating a custom rental lease agreement for your property can be overwhelming without the right insights or help. One way to make sure your lease protects your rental properties is to use a property manager to create a custom contract based on your specific needs and requirements.
Renters Warehouse BW Metro is a Baltimore property management company offering services, including custom lease agreements for property owners. We have a team of experienced professionals who can help you draft an agreement covering all the bases, from security deposits to repair and maintenance expectations. We also ensure renters understand agreements at the start of every new tenancy! Reach out soon to learn more.
To streamline the lease agreement process and create a custom contract, download our free “How To Create a Custom Lease Agreement Checklist.”