Developing a lease isn’t an easy task. It requires a lot of your time and energy, and even then it’s possible you’ve forgotten some pivotal information. For that reason, it’s all the more important that you understand what details absolutely need to be outlined in your lease.
When it comes to renters, consider the fact that many are renting for the first time, and every detail truly needs to be spelled out for them. When you look at your lease that way, it’s imperative that you include all vital information. In order to help you get started when it comes to the more important details, here are ten things to include/outline in a lease.
1. All Relevant Dates
Any time you draft a lease, it’s important to outline the relevant dates, all of them. This includes the move-in date(s), the move-out date(s), the length of time the lease is for and even the dates when you can resign your lease are (as well as the deadline). Also, though this is typically an item due at signing, you should always mention when the security deposit is due as well as how long it takes to process these payments to avoid any late fees etc.
Essentially, any information as far as dates that are pertinent to your renters go, they should be clearly outlined in a lease to avoid any confusion on their end as well as to have written proof that the renters were notified well in advance regarding all dates pertinent to the lease.
If there are any additional dates of note (i.e. dates when first month and last month of rent are due) make sure you clearly indicate those in your lease as well. Basically, if there’s a date they need to know about, those are items that you need to clearly outline in a lease.
2. Subletting Information
Subletting an apartment is stressful for college students, but oftentimes extremely necessary. Most leases run from fall to fall, but students attend school from fall to summer in most circumstances. For this reason, they are left with the options to pay their lease and stay on campus, to pay their lease while returning home for the summer, or to sublet their apartment while they stay home for the summer.
Again, many students are renting for the first time, so it stands to reason they would also be subletting for the first time. Therefore, something essential to outline in a lease is any subletting information relevant to your renters. This includes, but is not limited to, who is liable for what, how those payments work, whether or not subletting is done through the main office or on their own, and if subletting is even an option available to them. (If your office doesn’t allow subletting, you may also want to include relevant information related to summer rent – i.e. what a student is supposed to do if they are returning home for the summer but still paying rent. Is there any upkeep that needs to be done in the apartment? If so, make sure they are aware of this information well in advance, otherwise, their plans may not work out with how your lease is outlined.)
For some, subletting rules are a deterrent from signing a lease; while you may lose out on the rent from that individual, it’s better than taking advantage of them by leaving out pertinent information that could have been outlined in a lease. So, make sure that all rules related to subletting are clearly stated to avoid any confusion and harm to your renters.
3. Emergency Details
Nobody likes to think about it, but there are instances of emergencies. This could be, but isn’t limited to, fire, break-in, gas leaks, campus shooters, etc. There are so many variables here, but being prepared for any one of them is a good first step, whether or not an emergency actually presents itself.
If there are any details that a renter would need to know, such as a location to take shelter during a tornado siren or a protocol to follow if there is a break-in, make sure you outline this in your lease. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that anything will happen, but, as they say, better safe than sorry when it comes to the safety of you and your renters.
Also important is to include a number to call in case of emergency (i.e. gas leaks) and when it’s important to notify authorities. While it’s always a safe bet to alert the police or fire department, outlining this information can prevent unnecessary calls when there is an easier series of steps for your renters to take. Many renters are unfamiliar with such circumstances so, again, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.
4. Maintenance Details
It’s very likely your renters will need to reach out to maintenance at least once during their lease. For others, the outreach to maintenance may be more common. When you develop your lease, maintenance schedules and contact information are very important to outline in a lease. Whether you’re simply including the contact information for your maintenance people, the emergency contact information or a basic timeframe of expected response for maintenance requests, this is all relevant information that your renters should be equipped with from the start.
I recommend speaking with the maintenance department, determining the best course of action for working together and outlining those details in the lease. This provides students with a general idea of what to expect when something breaks or goes wrong in an apartment.
As a side note, you should also outline in your lease what move-in day looks like from a maintenance perspective. Typically, they are provided with a checklist and required to document any aspects of the apartment that aren’t working, so let them know what this looks like and what to document to avoid charges later on. It should also be mentioned that maintenance is typically busy this day, so requests are handled on a first come first serve basis (or in another manner if applicable.)
5. Cleaning Specifications
Typically, before an individual moves into their new apartment, there is a certain amount of cleaning that needs to be done. For many landlords, this work is outsourced and charged in the last month’s rent of the previous owners. However, in many cases, there are additional costs that aren’t specified in the lease and come as a surprise when they are deducted from the security deposit. Getting ahead of this confusion and clearly letting your renters know what costs for cleaning entail is in your best interest.
Repeat customers are big for business, so negatively impacting your current renters doesn’t make sense. For this reason, let them know what costs to expect when you outline in a lease what these costs would be.
Let them know the charges for paint, for additional cleaning, for damages etc. You don’t need to provide specifics on every item, but essentially give them an outline of what to expect should there be any damage to the apartment.
6. Rent Details
Rent details are obviously essential to outline in a lease. This comes down to what your student is going to be paying monthly to live in their apartment. This also includes any additional costs they may not have considered in apartment hunting.
For example, if they plan to pay by credit card, is there an associated fee? Can they pay by check? Do they have to drop the check off at the leasing office every month, or can they mail it in? Can they pay cash? What happens when their rent is late? Is there a late fee? Is there a grace period? Does the fee increase after a certain number of days?
There are countless details to include here, and it’s all information that they will need to know, guaranteed. Think of all the questions you’ve gotten as a landlord and include their answers in your lease, as this is the best way to ensure you’ve included all the information they need.
7. Additional Rules
Let’s be honest, there are always rules. Some are unspoken, but additional rules are something to definitely outline in a lease.
For instance, do you allow pets? If not, what happens when a family member visits with a pet? Are there any areas students aren’t allowed in an apartment complex? What are the repercussions? Is there a rule for having guests? Is there a length of time before they need to leave?
These are all rules that may not necessarily be understood without being clearly written out, so I recommend clearly defining them in your lease to avoid any questions when it comes time for reprimanding your renters.
8. Additional Fees
Stating additional fees in your lease is imperative. Is there a charge for owning a pet? Is it a per-pet charge? Is there a laundry charge? What about charges for parking?
Any additional fees are imperative to outline in a lease. Basically, if there is an extra charge for something, you definitely need to state that in your lease. Additional costs should never be hidden – always state everything upfront, very clearly to avoid any problems when it comes to payment later on.
The more upfront you can be with your renters, the more likely they are to return or recommend your complex to another student. So, in other words, it’s in your best interest.
9. On-Site Resources
Most apartment complexes have a variety of on-site resources that are available to their renters, but many renters aren’t aware of these resources. For this reason, it’s a good idea to mention the available resources to your renters and include them when you outline your lease.
For instance, if you have a fitness or recreation center, that’s something to outline in a lease. You should also include any laundry facilities, parking garages, cafeterias etc. that you have available to your renters.
Many students look for these on-site resources, and they are often large perks to signing a lease, so including these details is a great idea to show all available options to your student so they feel they are getting the most out of their lease.
10. Office Availability
Last, but definitely not least, it’s important to provide your renters with your office availability. This might not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about drafting a lease, but it’s definitely information you should outline in a lease.
Like it or not, there are going to be a large number of times in which your renters need to get a hold of you. Sometimes, it’s related to quick questions that can be answered on the phone, and other times, they need to come into the office to speak with one of your leasing agents about changes to their lease etc. No matter the circumstances, you should always list your office availability in a lease.
This includes your contact number (both the main office and individual contact information), perhaps a link to the website for an FAQ section, your office hours and any other emergency contact information not previously listed in your lease. It’s important that your renters always have someone they can contact, so the more information you provide in your lease to that end, the better off you are and the more comfortable they (and their parents) will feel.
While this is by no means the entirety of the information required in a lease, this is a good starting point as far as items to outline in a lease go. Again, there will be plenty of information pertinent to your complex alone, and other information that you may need to leave out, but make sure you develop some form of outline to begin with to ensure you’re not missing any relevant information.
When it comes to including information to outline in a lease, more is always better, as you would much rather provide them with too much information than not enough. So don’t be afraid of being wordy, it’s not going to do you any harm!
Use these items to outline in a lease in order to develop yours and good luck drafting your lease!