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By Mark Walters

nuts and boltsThe longer you are a landlord the more you strive to create the perfect lease/rental agreement.

Landlords learn in the school of hard-knocks that some tenants are certified trouble makers and we try our best to protect ourselves with a carefully structured restrictive lease.

That’s just good business…. but be careful you don’t include any provisions in your lease that may not be legal. For example…

It would be illegal to include a provision that states the resident agrees not to include his or her lease (the lease on your property) in their bankruptcy filing… should their bankruptcy become necessary.

Bankruptcy laws are Federal.. lease law is state law.

Anyone can file for bankruptcy and invoke all protections afforded to them by the U.S. Bankruptcy Code… including not making lease payments… at least temporarily.

Here’s another caution…

It would be illegal for your lease to require that residents be responsible for injuries he or she sustain during the lease term. The law can legally hold landlords liable for damages and injuries caused due to negligence. A landlord cannot contract that away.

How about repairs….

The same would apply to a requirement that the tenant be responsible for all necessary repairs. In every state the law mandates that landlords perform certain repairs to maintain the property and keep it habitable.

Does your lease contain a clause concerning attorney fees?…

Requiring a renter to pay for all of the landlord’s legal fees and costs regardless of a court case out come would also be a lease no-no.

Most good leases have stood the test of time and will help you avoid legal problems. Just don’t ask tenants to sign it until you have read and completely understand every line of the lease you are using.

You’ll find the lease we use here…

Mark Walters is a third generation real estate investor who shares his experience from two Web sites… [] Article Source:

American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

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  • Ben

    Thanks for your post. I found that in CT, the lease is worth nothing unfortunately. Tenants sign a lease knowing that can break/violate it by stop paying the rent a month after they signed. The landlord can do nothing but spending almost $1000 evicting them. If they tell the judge that times are hard and they have no money to pay – they are dismissed and let go. The landlord goes back to repair the apartment he just did a month before and to try to rent it all over again. Sometimes I feel that the signing process is just a big waste of the landlord’s time. At the end of the day you are left with nothing. Not even enough money to pay your poor superintendent….

  • gary

    The link above – – is offered by Mark Walters as a source for a good lease. Unfortunately, the list of products do not offer a standard lease that I can find. Only thing shown is a lease/option.

  • Ricardo Renteria

    Currently the lease is active until November of this year 2012. Tenant is part of housing section 8 and is motivated to move out but needs my signature in order to do so. A section of the contract reads exactly,

    TERMINATION: After one month’s rental payment has been received, this agreement may be terminated by mutual consent
    of the parties, or by either party giving written notice of at least 30 days prior to the end of any monthly period. Any provision
    of this agreement may be changed by the owner in like manner. All parties agree that termination of this agreement prior to
    _____Novermber 1st 2012_______ regardless of cause will constitute a breach of the tenancy as agreed on page 1 and all deposits shall be forfeited in favor of the owner as full liquidated damages at the owner’s option.

    I’m thinking of several options
    1. Ultimately say no and have tenant stay till November
    2. Pay till the end of the lease and she can leave
    3. Pay x-months and she can leave
    4. leave whenever she wants, but deposit will be forfeited and SSN will be noted.

    Am I on the correct track or am I missing something?

    Ricardo Renteria

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