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6 Terms That Should Be Included In A Lease

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In our last post, we discussed pet-friendly rental properties. Whether or not to allow pets in your rental property is one of the major decisions you will make as a property owner. More and more people are pet owners these days, which may influence your decision! We took a look at some of the pros and cons of pet-friendly rental properties. If you are interested in learning more, we encourage you to check out our last post!


Today, we’ll be talking about terms that should be included in your lease agreement. A lease is a legal contract between a tenant and their landlord. It outlines the terms which the tenant agrees to in order to rent a property for a certain period of time, typically covering a period of 6 or 12 months. The terms and agreements of a lease are generally expectations between landlord and tenant. A strong, well-worded lease is essential to ensure that both parties’ best interests are protected. But what exactly should be included in the lease agreement? We’ve put together a list of some of the most important terms to include in your lease so that you don’t run into any issues down the road. Let’s get started!


Think of your lease agreement as the blueprint of a tenancy. It should clearly define the rights and responsibilities of both the landlord and the tenant. This should include everything from an accurate description of the property to the amount of rent and when it’s due, and everything in between. Here are some key elements of a lease agreement that you don’t want to miss.


The Names of All Tenants


Every lease agreement should include the names of all tenants and occupants. Any adult occupant, 18 or over, should be included in the lease– Even both members of a married or unmarried couple. This gives you, as the landlord, an additional layer of insurance. Each tenant is legally responsible for paying the full amount of rent and following all of the terms of the lease. Having all of the tenants’ names on the lease allows you to legally seek the entire rent amount from any of the tenants if one fails to make payment. Additionally, if one of the tenants violates any area of the lease, you have the right to terminate the tenancy of all of the occupants. 


Security Deposits and Fees


Security deposits and fees are often an area where headaches arise if it is not stated clearly in the lease. A security deposit is a set amount of money held by the landlord throughout the rental agreement or lease. It is generally used to pay for any damage caused in the unit. Your lease agreement should state the dollar amount of the security deposit. Some states have security deposit limit laws, so be sure to research that ahead of time. In South Carolina, there is no statutory limit on security deposits. This part of the lease should also explain what the security deposit might be used for. For example, it could be used to repair damage or cover unpaid rent. Make it clear whether you will expect the tenant to replenish the deposit if you need to make a deduction mid-tenancy. You should also state when and how you will return the deposit when the tenant moves out. States also have deadlines for returning security deposits that you must comply with. In South Carolina, the deadline is 30 days after the tenant has vacated. Include any non-refundable fees, such as pet fees.


Rental Price


Of course, you’ll want to include the rental price of the property in your lease, so the tenant knows how much rent costs. But that’s not all you should include. You should make it clear when rent is due. Typically, many landlords choose to have rent due on the first of each month. How should tenants pay their rent? If they need to mail a check, include a mailing address. If they need to use an online portal, include a website and information for accessing the portal. Clarify what payment methods are acceptable and whether or not you charge a late rent fee. If you do charge a late rent fee, state how much the fee is. If a check bounces, will the tenant face charges? All of these things should be laid out clearly in the lease. 


Repairs and Maintenance


The lease agreement should clearly explain your repair and maintenance policies. This can include the tenant’s responsibility to maintain clean and sanitary premises and to pay for the damage they cause, excluding normal wear and tear. How should complaints or repair requests be submitted? Clearly explain the procedure to be followed. You should also include a requirement that the tenants alert you to any dangerous or defective conditions on the rental property. Are there restrictions on what repairs or alterations a tenant can make? Make sure this is clearly defined. For example, are tenants allowed to paint rooms within the property without your permission? Can they install security systems? It should be explicitly clear what repairs or alterations tenants can make with or without your approval. This can help avoid battles over security deposits down the road.




Alongside an accurate description of the rental property, you should also list everything that comes with the property. This can include appliances such as refrigerators and dishwashers, designated parking spaces, community clubhouses or pools, and anything else that a tenant rightfully has access to. If there are fees to access a clubhouse, pool, or community gym, list those in the lease. If the rental property includes water and utilities, be sure to make that clear in the lease as well. 




The lease agreement should list any rules or restrictions of importance. If you would consider evicting a tenant for violating a rule, it should be listed here. This section of a lease commonly includes rules on smoking, illegal activity, and pets. If you choose to prohibit all forms of smoking, clarify that this includes marijuana and vaping. If you choose to only limit smoking, list areas where tenants are allowed to smoke. If your rental is pet-friendly, this is a good place to include your pet policies. This may include how many pets a tenant is allowed to have, types, breeds, and sizes of animals that are allowed. You should also note whether pets must be on a leash or if pet waste needs to be picked up in common outside areas. 


These are just a few of the most important things that should be included in your lease agreement. Including these terms makes life easier for both landlords and tenants, and can help clear up any disputes or misunderstandings down the road. The lease agreement does not only serve to protect the landlord– It also protects the tenant! 


We hope you found this article helpful. If you are a rental property owner looking for assistance in managing your property, feel free to reach out to us! RPM Distinguished Care specializes in residential property management and offers a range of services including communication, marketing, and advertising, thorough tenant screening and selection, full-service leasing, timely rent collection, regular evaluations, cost-effective and reliable maintenance, strict and compliant evictions, and comprehensive accounting. We utilize an online portal for owners to keep track of their property, including access to reports and financial statements. With over 30 years of experience, we know how to keep your property at its best. We believe in full-service and comprehensive property management. That’s why we take the time to understand each of our clients and help identify their most closely-held goals. Let us give you peace of mind that your property is in good hands. Use our website to request your free assessment and meet with our expert team! Thank you for taking the time to read this article and we hope to hear from you soon! See you next time!


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