Rental Property Lease Agreement

Rental Property Lease Agreement is the most common term for an annual tenancy. Lease agreements are generally for one year, and need to be renewed at the end of its term. A rental agreement is the general term for shorter term tenancies (most often one month or less) and can often have an automatic renewal built in, if no notice to move out is given.

Lease Agreements can be drafted by anyone, and basic standard forms are easily found on the internet or can be obtained through a realtor, attorney or purchased at an office supply store. However, these are general leases and only contain the most generic, basic legal clauses needed - and won't contain more customized or stronger legal verbiage you may want to help protect yourself from unnecessary future expenses and liabilities.

A rental property lease agreement will vary from state to state, and there is no standard lease that needs to be used. But all leases should include the basics: names of all parties (landlord/tenant), property address and folio number, rental amount and when rent is due, rent payment instructions/address, late fee and bad check fees, security deposit amount and purpose, names of additional occupants,  if pets are allowed and any additional pet deposit, who is responsible for paying which utilities, tenant responsibilities (ie changing AC filter every month, maintaining lawn), contact information for repair requests. Landlords should also provide a copy of the current version of the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act, Part II, Chapter 83 of the Florida Statutes, either by including it inside of the lease or by creating it as a one page addendum and attaching it to the lease.

Customizing a Rental Property Lease Agreement

Landlords can include anything they want in their rental property lease agreement. HOWEVER... it must adhere to the state landlord/tenant laws and any applicable fair housing laws as well. Our recommendation: use the services of an experienced property management company. They usually have THE best leases (normally even better than attorney or generic realtor versions) because they've included provisions that address real life, every day situations that they've experienced through the years and written in to avoid in the future. These leases usually are longer, and contain very strong and specific language spelling out responsibilities and consequences, instructions and expectations. And usually these leases, when working with a professional property manager, can be customized for your specific property.

For instance, the #1 most costly repair for landlords is an AC repair. Why? Tenants don't maintain them properly. AC filters should be changed EVERY month minimally. Otherwise, the accumulated dust and dirt on the filter and coils will cause leaking and not cooling repair requests from the tenant inevitably, while also vastly shortening the life of the unit. In all of our leases we specify the size of the AC filter, provide AC filters to the tenant, and give instructions on how and when to change them. We also specify that NOT changing them is considered negligence by the tenant, and repair expenses that are a direct result of not changing AC filters regularly will lead to the tenant's responsibility of paying for those repairs. This is MOST ESPECIALLY IMPORTANT if your tenant has pets. Pet hair is THE BIGGEST cause of blocked air flow through the system causing all sorts of issues.

Got a pool? Big backyard?  Property located in a homeowner or condo association? These are all additional elements that should be addressed in a good strong lease. The goal for every landlord should be to put everything in writing, and limit all future potential issues and liability as much as possible.

Landlord Tenant and Lease Forms