Several years ago I started working for a property management company. On my first day, my boss came into my office and said, "Hey, can you write a lease for this address?" That was it. That was all the information I had to go on. Needless to say, it wasn't an easy first day.
Over the years, I've mastered writing and editing lease agreements, but I still remember how daunting it was to write my first one. Thankfully, you don't have to go through the same headache. Just follow the tips below and you'll have your lease ready in a few hours.
Get a Copy of the Landlord and Tenant Laws
The Landlord and Tenant laws cover everything from fee limits to tenant and landlord rights. While a lot of the information is common sense, it still helps to have a copy of the laws on hand. This way, you can reference back and make sure you're not breaking any rules.
You can print a copy of the laws of your state's government website, or pick up a copy at your local court office.
Start with a Template
The first time I tried to write a lease, I started from scratch. It was a mistake that wasted a lot of my time. Now I use a basic lease agreement and modify it to include anything the landlord has requested. For example, I may change the pet policy, or break the security deposit into monthly payments.
There are several places to get a sample lease agreement. Check with your local real estate association or housing authority office, they usually have lease templates that include your state's landlord and tenant laws.
Have a Professional Proofread Your Work
On my first lease, I confused the term "lessee" for the term "lessor." For example, I wrote that the lessee was the owner of the rental house and that the lessor was responsible for all utility payments. Basically, I said the tenant could own the house and the landlord would pay all his utility bills. It was an embarrassing mistake but I caught it because I asked my boss to read over the lease.
After you write your lease, have someone else who is familiar with the landlord and tenant laws in your state look it over. For example, if you know another landlord, ask for his help. You can also take the lease to your local real estate association. Odds are, a realtor will help proofread your lease.
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