Manly & Stewart Articles What Needs to be in Your Lease

What Needs to be in Your Lease

By Manly & Stewart  Feb. 22, 2012 9:50a

As a property manager of either commercial property or multiple dwelling properties, you have the responsibility of maintaining contracts and other complex forms for every one of your tenants. If an issue were to arise with one of your tenants, you want to be able to rest assured that all your documents are legal and binding, without loopholes or unnecessary requirements. You deal with your tenants on a daily basis, and property management issues may get overwhelming, but when it comes to drafting a lease agreement, there are some things that you can't afford to let fall through the cracks.

What the State of California Requires:

  • List the names of every tenant: It is common for multiple people to live in an apartment or condominium, so every adult living in said unit must be included and sign the agreement. This way, every adult it legally responsible for all the terms of the lease. If, for example, a roommate was not listed on the lease, they would in no way be obligated to pay their share of the rent. As a lessor, you can legally terminate the lease agreement if any one of the people on the lease violates the terms.
  • Occupancy Limits: This section of the lease is included for the purpose of the tenants themselves and you as the landlord to determine who is allowed to live at said premises. So essentially, you are limiting the amount of people who reside there by including who does reside there.
  • The difference between a rental agreement and a lease: A lease means that there is a specific start and end date to your agreement whereas a rental agreement is usually month-to-month and renews on its own. In the case of a rental agreement, the document still must include the dates of the agreement, the minimum days required to notify your lessor of termination of contract, and as the lessor you must include how many days' notice you must give your tenant before changing a clause of the agreement.
  • Rent: This is the section of the agreement that people care most about, so it must be absolutely clear in the document what the agreed upon rent is. Not only should the document specify the amount, it also must include when the rent is due each month and with what method you must make your payment. There should also be information in the rent section regarding late fees and bounced check charges.
  • Security Deposits and Other Fees: A security deposit is required in most leases and rental agreements in order to insure that the tenant abides by the agreement and does not try to vacate unlawfully. If and when a tenant chooses to leave and they do it on time and with proper warning, the full amount of the security deposit will be returned. If there is outstanding rent due, the security deposit usually goes toward covering it.
  • Maintenance and Repair: You must be clear and specific as to what is the lessee's sole cost and expense and what is the cost and expense that the lessor is responsible for. It is not uncommon in this section to list specific appliances and the amount of time they will be covered for.
  • Entry: Tenants will often want to make repairs or modifications to their unit, so the agreement must include the amount of warning they must give their lessor and also require the lessee to gain the approval of the lessor for the said entry.
  • Restrictions, Pets, and Disclosures: The agreement must explicitly forbid disruptive and illegal activity at the unit. Other restrictions may include adherence to state and local laws. Your agreement must be clear on if and what types of animals are allowed at the premises. And lastly, federal law requires lessors to make disclosures to all tenants about things like lead-based paint (if it is used), registered sex-offenders in the area, and other necessary disclosures.

Legal Assistance for your Property Management

A California commercial real estate attorney at Manly & Stewart will be able to help you with any issue you have concerning property management. Our firm can be trusted to handle your real estate needs, no matter how complicated they may seem. Our years of experience and legal expertise are a winning combination when it comes to helping you manage your property smoothly, and most importantly, legally. We at Manly & Stewart have also been named "Super Lawyer" and listed by the Los Angeles Daily Journal as one of the top 100 attorneys.

For legal help regarding your property management case, don't wait! Contact a California property management lawyer from our firm today.

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