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What Should Be Included In A Lease?

Hello, property and potential property owners! Welcome to the RPM Distinguished Care blog, where we provide practical advice about property management! If you’re a return visitor, welcome back. We sincerely appreciate your support! RPM Distinguished Care specializes in managing successful rental properties in and around the Charleston area. We’re here to make your lives easier by giving you the resources you need to maximize profitability and have a successful rental property. We provide comprehensive property management services at every possible level. From advertising and marketing to responding to applications, to inspecting and maintaining properties–there’s nothing we do not do. Further, we ensure tenant compliance, handle necessary evictions, and report directly back to you about revenue and profit potentials. We aim to make owning rental property as easy for you as possible, for as little money as possible. Check out the rest of our site to meet our team and discover what makes RPM Distinguished Care the best property management company in Charleston!


In our last post, we discussed eviction and how to avoid evicting a tenant. Although eviction involves removing a tenant from a property, it can also negatively impact the landlord. The eviction process can take weeks, or even months, and it can be costly and stressful. Sometimes, eviction cannot be avoided. We talked about some reasons for eviction, as well as some steps that can be taken by the landlord to avoid the eviction process in the first place. If you are interested in learning more, be sure to check out our last post!


Today, we’ll be talking about some terms that should be included in your lease. We previously discussed this topic, so be sure to check out that post first! Last time, we talked about including the names of all tenants, security deposits and fees, the rental price, repairs and maintenance, amenities, and restrictions. Just to recap, 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. If you are interested in learning about what else you may want to include in a lease, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.


Term Of The Tenancy


Leases create a tenancy that terminates after a specific term, or time period. The term of tenancy for a lease is typically a year, whereas a rental agreement can be short-term or month-to-month. Regardless of how long the tenancy will last, be sure to include this in your lease agreement. The lease should clearly specify the start date, tenancy length, and expiration date. You may also want to include how the tenancy may be terminated. For example, nonpayment of rent or a violation of the lease agreement.


Occupancy Limits


As we mentioned in our other post about lease agreements, you definitely want to include all of the names of the tenants so you have a record of who is actually occupying the rental. However, you can also add an occupancy clause if you’d like. An occupancy clause generally states that only the specified tenants and their minor children (if applicable) are allowed to reside in the rental. This means that no one else may move into the premises. So, if a tenant gets an unapproved roommate and you find out about it, you have the right to terminate the lease. A landlord can set a limit to how many people are allowed to live in the rental, as long as it is compliant with local laws.


In addition to an occupancy clause, some landlords opt to include a clause about the use of the premises. Sometimes, the two are combined into a “use and occupancy clause”. This clause states that the tenant is not allowed to use the premises for anything other than a dwelling. For example, you could prohibit tenants from running a business out of the rental property. This may also prevent the tenant from making unapproved structural changes. 


Insurance Requirements


In most states, landlords can require tenants to have renters insurance. This is usually stated within a clause in the lease. In most cases, the insurance carried by a landlord or property manager only protects the building. This means it does not cover personal property loss or damage for the renter. By requiring renters insurance in your lease, you can potentially avoid liability claims from tenants due to damaged property caused by fire, or other covered losses listed in the policy. For example, if a tenant’s belongings are stolen, a tenant may attempt to sue the landlord for failing to protect the property. However, if their renters insurance policy covers the damage for their lost belongings, they may be less likely to sue. Renters insurance not only benefits the landlord, but has some benefits for the tenant as well, including protection against liability claims from a guest if they are injured in the rental.


Rules For Entry


Although you are granting possession of the property to the tenant, the landlord or property manager may still need to enter the premises from time to time. For example, in case of emergency repairs or inspections. You may choose to include a clause about this in the lease, specifying under what circumstances you can enter the premises, how much notice you will give before entering, etc. In South Carolina, the tenant cannot unreasonably withhold consent to enter into the dwelling unit, according to the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act. Generally, landlords give 24 hours notice before entering the property, and limit visits to reasonable hours, except for in cases of emergency. According to South Carolina law, the landlord or his agent may enter the unit without consent of the tenant at any time in case of emergency or for the purpose of providing regularly scheduled periodic maintenance. 


Occupancy Rules


A landlord may also choose to include a clause about rules and/or restrictions. Typically, this includes guidelines or rules about noise and disturbances. You may include “quiet” hours after a certain hour or ban loud music over a certain decibel from the rental premises. It is a good idea to check up on local laws and regulations concerning noise. As a landlord, you can also choose to enforce rules about smoking. For example, do you completely prohibit smoking on the premises, or will you have designated outdoor smoking areas? This is completely up to the landlord, but it may be a good idea to include these rules somewhere in the lease. Additionally, you can add any rules regarding pets in this section. If you do not allow pets in the rental premises, be sure to clearly state that, as well as any fees a tenant may be subject to if they are found violating that clause. If you do choose to allow pets, you may set certain limitations on breeds or sizes of animals, so be sure to include that as well. Check out our previous blog on pet-friendly rentals here!


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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