An estimated 34 million families now rent their principal residence. Most of these renters signed or entered into a rental arrangement that outlines the arrangement between the renter and the landlord, but maybe not all these agreements are contracts. A prohibited or invalid lease can cause substantial problems for both parties, and can limit or even prohibit either party from filing a claim against the other in court. To protect yourself and your renter, make certain your lease agreement will hold up in court prior to signing.
Review your state’s landlord/tenancy laws on line, or see your local law library and ask a librarian for assistance locating the materials. Focus specifically on tenants’ rights, landlords’ obligations and lease arrangement guidelines in your own state. Take notes on what you can and cannot include in your rental agreement.
Set the total amount of lease your renter will cover in exchange for leasing your property. Define exactly what your renter will provide in lieu of cash every month — for example, working in your workplace or completing repairs and maintenance on the house, if you plan to not charge rent. The rental agreement must define some form of consideration from the renter, or it isn’t a valid contract. If you intend to lease your house for free, charge your renter $1 per month at the rental arrangement. Require your renter to really cover you (he can pay you $12 at a time to pay an entire year, for example, to keep things easy ) to create your contract legitimate.
Draft a rental that details the arrangement between you and your tenant. Include your name, your tenant’s name, the names of any non-tenant parties residing in the rental house (such as minor children), the address of the lease house, any included conveniences, the total amount of rent and the day on which the lease is due every month. You can do this at the time your tenant moves in, or anytime after your tenant begins renting from you–however, if you do make a written rental after the tenant moves in, make certain that you don’t make any alterations or additions to the agreement without first obtaining the tenant’s written permission. Otherwise, you will invalidate the contract and the lease will not prevail in court.
Review your written rental agreement and make sure you didn’t incorporate any potentially unlawful or questionable provisions, especially those that require the tenant to waive his entitlement to certain rights or protections. Refer to the notes while researching the tenancy laws of your state that you drafted. One provision that is unlawful can invalidate the entire rental agreement in court, so it’s very important your lease complies with neighborhood tenancy laws and guidelines.
Create a copy of the written lease and give the copy. In the event the tenant doesn’t request any modifications to the lease provisions, both you and the tenant should then sign the base of the two copies in each other’s presence. If possible, sign the rental in the presence of a disinterested third-party witness or a notary public for further assurance and also to fortify the validity and effectiveness of the contract in court.
File a copy of the signed lease arrangement with the Office of the County Registrar (known as the County Recorder or Deed Registry in certain states) from the county in which the rental property resides. A nominal filing fee may charge for registration, which you must pay in the time of filing. Request a copy of the rental arrangement that is documented when you’re finished, and retain this copy for your personal records.