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Rent Certificate Requests

 

 

 

Tis the season!  Tax season, that is.  A handful of tenants have already reached out to us for information on receiving a 2016 rent certificate and we wanted to be sure all of our tenants were aware of our policy and procedure.  If you signed a lease with our agency and were not transferred to our management company, this process is outlined in the rules and regulations addendum under “1.43 Homestead Credits.”

Because we receive so many requests and are not always able to fill the forms out on demand, our policy requires tenants to submit the form to our office with their personal information filled in.  DO NOT fill in your social security number for your security.  We are not responsible for the consequences that may arise from an unsecured SSN and strongly advise tenants to keep that blank.

Once you submit the form to our office, we will complete the landlord portion within 7 days and notify you when you can come pick it up.  If you would prefer to have it mailed, please provide a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

Please note that the Wisconsin Department of Revenue will not accept any photocopies or forms using correction tape/fluid.  We cannot send the forms to you electronically, as the State requires the original signature on the form.

For your convenience, we have linked the form here.  Let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Lease Breaking 101: Truths & Consequences

 

Breaking a lease can be a difficult and costly experience.  It is very important that tenants understand that a lease is a legal contract.  We are always amazed by tenants who seem surprised to find that this is the case, regardless of how many times we tell them prior to signing the lease.

That said, leases can be broken but the consequences for doing so can be severe.  You may be required to pay rent through the end of your original lease term or until a new tenant is found.  You could also be taken to court or find yourself in collections, both of which can deeply impact your credit — not to mention hurt your rental reference for future tenancy with another landlord.

Breaking your lease should be your last resort.  If you find yourself forced down this path, we recommend following the below steps to help minimize your costs and the negative consequences of breaking a lease.


1) Read the leasing documents thoroughly.  Pay particularly close attention to the stated lease term, notice requirements, and lease breaking rules or costs.  Not all landlords include the last two items in their leases or addenda (but they should), so don’t be surprised if they aren’t mentioned.

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS: Leases and addenda items can get very lengthy.  However, best practice is to provide more information versus less about important monetary and legal matters.  Outline your lease breaking policy as well as base costs in the lease or addenda to save from scrambling later.  Having a signed policy in place can help your position in court, especially if you are consistently sticking to that policy. 

2) Talk to your landlord.  Most landlords will understand extenuating circumstances, such as job loss or mandatory relocation, marital separation, or other unexpected emergencies.  Be up front with them, no matter what the reason is for wanting out of your lease.  Your honesty and forthrightness may make the difference between a helpful and cooperative landlord or one who refuses to budge.

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS: Do your best to be understanding and helpful, regardless of the tenant’s situation or past rental history.  This is a stressful experience for both of you and being resistant and difficult will not help you to rent the unit any faster or recoup any of your expenses.  In fact, a scorned tenant is far less likely to pay and more likely to fight any charges in court. Be professional and remember it is your legal obligation to mitigate damages to the best of your ability.  

3) Find your own subleaser, if your landlord allows.  Not all landlords will allow subleasing or for tenants to find their own subleaser so be sure to ask if this is an option.  If it is, you can save tons of money on your lease breaking — not to mention earn the appreciation of your landlord — by doing your own advertising and showings.

Pre-screen interested parties before you let them into your home by asking about their job, if they smoke or have pets, how many people would be living in the unit, and why they are moving.  You’ll also want to let them know what the application requirements are and stress that applicants probably need to have good credit and positive rental references — those are going to be standard no matter who your landlord is.

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS:  Allowing tenants to show their own unit to prospective applicants not only saves you time and money but can help reel in a new tenant faster.  No one sells their home better than someone who needs to get out of a lease.  

4) Sign a break lease agreement.  This tip might be geared more towards your landlord but it offers you protection as well.  Getting it in writing that your landlord consents to end your lease provides you legal protection in the event that something goes awry and the landlord claims that you are still liable through the end of your lease.

That said, expect the document to show that you will be held liable until the end of your lease or a new tenant takes occupancy, whichever comes first.  It should also lay out in detail the fees for breaking your lease.  Do not simply take the landlord’s word that they will or won’t charge certain things — get it in writing to protect yourself.

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS: The same advice applies to you.  Put everything in writing to protect yourself and ensure that you will be compensated for the additional costs of re-renting a unit.  You also want this to ensure that you don’t end up with two leases on one property, should your exiting tenant change their mind on breaking the lease.  This could be a legal and financial nightmare for you and it truly is in your best interest to have everything in writing before you begin marketing the property for rent.  

Our break lease agreement states the following: 

  • “Tenant is seeking to end tenancy as of [DATE]. Tenant is responsible for all rents and utilities until the original Lease ending date or until another tenant begins to occupy the unit, whichever comes first.”
  • “Tenant is requesting that the Landlord relet the property as of the above date and understands that the Landlord will market the property as available to a new occupant following their requested move out date.  When and if a new tenant is secured for the property, the current Tenant(s) must vacate the above property according to this Agreement.”
  • “Tenant understands that by breaking the original Lease Agreement, they are voluntarily terminating their Lease prior to the stated and as such they may be subject to lease breaking fees including all costs of re-renting the property.”
  • “Tenant acknowledges that they fully understand that a monetary cost for breaking the Lease Agreement will be incurred and enforced if a Subleaser or new tenant is required due to the Lessee breaking the Lease Agreement prior to Lease expiration.  These costs could be substantial.  Base costs for breaking a lease are as follows: …”  (List your minimum break lease fees, including if they find their own tenant or if you must find one for them, the cost per showing, document preparation fees, advertising costs, etc.)

5) Keep your unit clean and presentable.  Moving is a stressful and messy process.  However, it can make it far more difficult to rent your unit if it looks like a tornado has torn through it.  It is in everyone’s best interest to keep everything as neat and tidy as possible throughout the showing process.

Best practice for packing while you’re still actively living in the home is to box up all of the items that you don’t immediately need, label the boxes, and either leave them neatly stacked in the room they came from or find one common area for them to be stored until moving day.  Prospective tenants will absolutely sympathize with this.  They generally don’t see past piles of clothes on the floor, dirty dishes piled in the sink, and other untidiness.  Keeping everything clean will help prospects envision their family in the home, surrounded by their own furniture and possessions.

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS: Don’t be afraid to reach out to tenants on any cosmetic issues like this that arise.  Recently we asked a lease breaker to keep his blinds pulled up (he had broken them), keep his boxes organized (we could hardly make a path through the family room), and work on the landscaping (it was like a jungle had taken over).  He hadn’t considered that these things would help us rent the unit faster and immediately complied.  It worked as intended and we had a lease signed in days.  

Just be polite and explain that you understand they are in the process of moving but these improvements could greatly help get unit rented faster and get them off the hook.  

6) Communicate with your landlord throughout the process.  Do your best to touch base with the landlord and keep them posted with your moving timeline.  Doing so will encourage them to do the same.  Make sure you are aware of what is expected of you for re-renting the unit, showings, leasing, and move-out.

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS: Keep your tenant updated as to the progress on reletting the unit.  They will sleep a little easier once they know it has been rented.  It is also very important that you notify tenants of your expectations for showings, leasing, and move-out.  (See more below)

7) Leave the property move-in ready.  This is where a lot of tenants go wrong — lease-breakers or otherwise.  Whether the landlord has expressed it to you or not, they expect you to leave the unit spotless and move-in ready — meaning that someone could theoretically move in right after you move out.  It doesn’t matter what condition you found the home in; it’s still your responsibility to leave it better than how you found it or your security deposit may pay the price for that.

Clean everything from top to bottom.  Walls, window sills, under appliances, vacuum the edges, wipe out every drawer, scrub every floor.  Ask your landlord for a move-out or cleaning checklist.  If they don’t have one, use ours as a guideline.  Be sure to find out if you are required to clean the carpets or not and schedule the appointment as close to your move-out date as possible.  And don’t forget to return your keys and garage door openers!

PRO TIP FOR LANDLORDS: Coming back to the previous item regarding communication, you’ll want to be sure that you clearly outline your move-out expectations.  Provide a move-out checklist to tenants and give them cleaning requirements.  Let them know exactly how much it will cost for you to clean that oven or replace those blinds.  Give them the opportunity to make things right on their own.  It will make the turnover go much more quickly and smoothly, plus maybe prevent frustration at surprise charges against their deposit.


The bottom line is this: your lease is a legal contract that you are obligated to fulfill.  Just like your cell phone contract, you can’t expect to get out of it without some penalty.  However, if you follow the steps above, work with your landlord (or tenants for those owner-readers out there), and do your best to help them rent the unit, it should help to minimize the cost to you for breaking the lease.

The Importance of Property Inspections – Tenant Version

You lived in that great little apartment for 3 years and you loved it like it was your own but the time had come to move on to a new home.  You cleaned every nook and cranny, caused no new damages, and followed your lease instructions for checkout, certain you would get your entire deposit back.

When the check comes, there are tons of deductions for damages that were there when you moved in and your once-awesome landlord refuses to hear any of it.  They just keep saying, “Well, you didn’t notify us of the damage when you moved in, so tough luck, cupcake!”

For many tenants, this sounds all too familiar.  Well, maybe not the cupcake part 😉

This is why it is vital that tenants complete a check-in sheet immediately upon moving into their new home.  In some states it is required that the landlord provide this to you but that isn’t always the case.  Regardless, it is up to tenants to be diligent to ensure that their landlord is aware of any pre-existing damages to avoid being charged for them upon move-out.

If your landlord didn’t provide you with a check-in sheet, there are many basic forms available online.   Check out this one from Landlord.com or this one from the Wisconsin Realtors Association.  The one we use is a modified version of our maintenance checklist and can be found here.

It is important to note that you do not have to use a form to report any issues you find at move-in.  Simply put your notes into writing and provide them to your landlord, preferably via email so that you have a record of giving the notice to them.

Contact your landlord directly if you have any questions or concerns regarding your check-in or move-in process.  Providing your landlord with a detailed account of pre-existing damages or cleanliness issues will help protect your security deposit upon move-out.

Planning a Successful Move

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Whether it’s across town or across the world, moving can be a stressful experience.  It can be easy to forget about the excitement of a new home and new adventure when you’re staring at a giant pile of boxes, wondering where to start.

Below are some tried-and-true tips to help you get (and stay) organized during your move, so you can relax and focus on the thrill of what’s to come.


Plan Ahead & Book Early

 

Moving day

 

This probably seems a little obvious but the further ahead you plan, the less stress you’ll put on yourself during the actual move.

Once you have a new home secured and you’ve given notice to your landlord (if applicable), your next step should be to reserve your moving truck.  Call around and find the best rates.  You may also want to consider getting the truck the day before your big move, which will allow you to take your time in loading and organizing the truck.  Be sure to call a few days prior to your move to confirm your appointment, just in case.

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If you can make it work into your budget, you may also want to consider hiring professional movers.  Now this blogger has a herniated disc in her back so the last time I had a big move, I paid for movers to come and unload my truck.  They did all the heavy lifting and brought everything up three flights of stairs, all for the bargain price of around$100.

Movers can be as affordable as you want them to be, with most working by the hour.  Save your back (and your walls, door frames, and furniture…) by paying professionals to carry in the big stuff.  Just be sure to do your research and find a reputable company that guarantees their work.  Book them early and call the week prior to your move to confirm your appointment.

 

Group of Mailboxes

Once those two are out of the way, your next step is to work on all things associated with your address.  You’ll want to cancel or transfer utilities and services, such as electricity or cable.  Make appointments to have your new services started as soon as is convenient or necessary for you.  If you’re like most of us and can’t survive without WiFi, be sure to schedule your internet installation for the late afternoon on moving day.

Don’t forget to update your address with everyone who might send you something important, especially your credit card company and financial institution.  Go online and update your address directly and then head over to the USPS website here to have your mail formally forwarded.  There is a small fee for doing it online but it’s worth not having to wait in line.

 

Start Packing NOW

Even though moving day might be weeks or months away, start packing as soon as possible.  Get as many boxes and totes as you can.  Then go through your entire home and determine what isn’t essential for the upcoming weeks.  Open every closet, cabinet, and drawer, packing up everything that you definitely won’t need prior to the move.  You can probably do without your food processor and hat collection until moving day, so pack it up!

 

Purge

Moving is the perfect time to purge.  Don’t pay to move unused, unloved, or unnecessary items.  Let go of everything that you don’t need or haven’t used in the last year.  Have a yard sale or donate your gently used items to charity.  Don’t forget about your pantry!  Do you really want to move all that Hamburger Helper that you probably weren’t ever going to make anyways?  Bag it up and drop it off at the local food pantry.  They will be grateful for your donation and it will be one less thing for you to move.

 

donations

 

You might also find yourself shocked at how much trash you’ll throw away when you move.  When you start that process early it can save you from a large, expensive final trash pickup.  While going through and packing up your home, keep a small bag with you for garbage (used shopping bags are great for this).  When you’re done for the day, drop it in your trash can.  You’ll break up the garbage a little this way and help cut down on the work during your final cleaning.

 

Packing Tips

 

Packing is the worst.  Even more so if you don’t do it right.  However, if you follow these basic tips, you’ll be on your way to relaxing in your new (unpacked) home in no time!

  • LABEL EVERYTHING.  All totes and boxes should be labeled with what room they go in and their basic contents; i.e., “Living Room – Knicknacks – FRAGILE” or “Jimmy’s Room – Toys”

Label boxes

  • Don’t mix rooms within the same box.  This will make packing and unpacking go much more smoothly.

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  • Put boxes in their designated rooms.  Instead of dropping all the boxes in the nearest room, put them in the rooms they are labeled to go in.  This will save you time and effort when it comes to unpacking and allow you to choose what you’re unpacking first.

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  • Put all essentials that you will need for your first night in an overnight bag and a clear tote.  You’ll want to include a change of clothes, toiletries, a roll of toilet paper, bedding, and other necessities.  If your internet is being installed on moving day, be sure to put your router in here as well.

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  • Use wardrobe boxes to transport your hanging clothes.  This will make packing and unpacking your clothes a breeze!  If you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for these boxes, keep them on hangers and cover with trash bags.  It’s not pretty but it will protect your clothes and save you tons of time.

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These few simple tips will help your move go much more smoothly so that you can start to enjoy your new home much faster.

If you are moving to the Eau Claire, WI / Chippewa Valley region, we would be happy to assist you further with your move.  Contact our office for more information on referrals, apartments, rental management, storage units, and more helpful tips.

Essential Terms & Clauses to Include in Every Lease

Renting apartments and leasing homes can be tricky business, especially when it comes to legal issues.  Lease Agreements are legally binding contracts and the backbone of our business.  Owners and landlords need to be absolutely certain that their leases are meeting both the required legal standards, but also working hard to protect their investment.

Below are a few terms and clauses that should be included in EVERY lease.  These clauses will help protect you, your tenants, and your rental home.  We always recommend having an attorney look over your final lease template to ensure that you are compliant with all state and local laws.


Right to Entry

As the owner or owner’s agent, you’ll want to be sure that your leases include a clause allowing you or your agent to enter the property with reasonable notice.  Your state laws may vary on this, but in Wisconsin, we must give a tenant 12-hours’ notice prior to entry.  Here’s how we write it, but you may need to tweak it to fit both your personal preferences and your legal requirements:

The Landlord may enter the Premises occupied Tenant, at reasonable times with at least 12-hours’ advance notice, to inspect the Premises, make repairs, show the Premises to prospective tenants or purchasers, or comply with applicable laws or regulations.  The Landlord may enter without advance notice upon consent of Tenant, when a health or safety emergency exists, or if Tenant is absent and the Landlord believes entry is necessary to protect the Premises or building in which they are located from damage.

Maintenance

No matter how new your property is, you are bound to have maintenance calls.  In fact, we often find that our new construction will have more service calls initially than an older home will have all year.  Your lease should include any items that the tenant is specifically responsible for, such as: changing furnace filters, checking smoke & carbon monoxide detectors, and keeping the premises clean & sanitary.

You will also want to include a requirement that tenants notify you immediately of any defective or dangerous conditions, as well as any maintenance or repair issues.  Be sure to include a statement that holds tenants liable for abuse or neglect as a result of their actions or inaction.

Last on maintenance, include an additional caveat that when maintenance issues are reported, the tenant is automatically giving you or your agents the right to enter the property.  This clause will give you the legal right to enter without additional notice; however, it is always best practice to communicate with your tenants with a courtesy call to let them know you’re coming.

Indemnity

This is a big one that a lot of owners and landlords fail to include.  Lawsuits can quickly and easily drain your business financially and harm your reputation.  Including an indemnity clause is essential to protecting the interests of your rental agency.  Our indemnity clause reads as follows:

Tenant agrees to indemnify and hold Landlord harmless from and against any and all claims for damage to property or personal injury costs, including, but not limited to, attorney and legal fees arising from use the rented unit. 

Landlord, Landlord’s agents and/or employees, shall not be liable for any loss of or damage to any personal property in or about the premises arising from any cause, even if such loss or damage is caused by the active or passive acts or omissions or negligence of the Landlord, Landlord’s agents and/or employees.  

Landlord, Landlord’s agents and/or employees, shall not be liable to Tenant for injury or death as a result of Tenant’s use of the premises, even if such injury is caused by the active or passive acts or omissions or negligence of the Landlord, Landlord’s agents and/or employees.  

Pet Policy

If you do not allow pets, be sure that your lease agreement is clear on the subject.  While we do allow pets in specific units, our general lease includes the following language:

Tenant acknowledges that pets (including mammals, reptiles, birds, fish, and insects) are not allowed upon the premises under any circumstances; this includes no visiting pets and no pet sitting.  In the event a pet enters the premises at any time, for any length of time during the tenancy, Tenant is responsible for the following charges, which are considered damages beyond normal wear and tear as defined in Wisconsin Administrative Code ATCP 134.06(3) and may be deducted from the security deposit:

  1. Tenant is in violation of the lease agreement and subject to eviction and all lease breaking costs.
  2. Tenant shall pay for all costs to repair/replace soiled carpets (removal of urine and feces stains and odor).
  3. Pest extermination.   

Tenant agrees to pay all costs of said carpet repair; damage to flooring; exterminating costs; damages to property, and any outdoor lawn care/landscaping damages and specifically authorizes Landlord to deduct any charges from the security deposit if not sooner paid.  Nothing herein shall be construed as an authorization for Tenant to keep a pet on the premises under any circumstances.

For units where pets are allowed, compose a separate pet agreement that specifically outlines what pet(s) are authorized on the property (“Sally,” Chocolate Lab, 10 years, 50 lbs.), charges for pet rent and/or additional pet deposit, and rules related to the pet(s).  Be sure that your rules address licensing, vaccinations, damages for both in the home and the lawn, leash requirements, and animal safety/abuse.

You’ll want to check with your local municipality about any pet-specific laws they may have that you’re not aware of.  Some local laws will restrict breeds, have leash requirements, and other conditions to pet ownership that you’ll need to be absolutely certain that you’ve covered in your lease.

Limits on Occupancy

Your lease agreement should include a clear statement that restricts occupancy of the unit to those on the lease and their minor children or dependents only.  This allows you to determine who lives in your rental property, ideally only those who you have met and screened prior to signing a lease, and gives you the right to evict tenants who sublet or add roommates without authorization.

We use the following verbiage to outline who is authorized to live on the property:

This Lease of the Premises identified below is entered into by and between the Landlord and Tenant (referred in the singular whether one or more) on the following terms and conditions:

Tenant(s):

Tenants (Financially Responsible)

Landlord:

Company Name

Premises: 

Unit Address

for use as a private residence only. 

The apartment will be occupied exclusively by the resident(s) listed above and their dependents. The Owner/Agent must approve unauthorized occupants living in the premises for longer than 7 consecutive days.

 Length of Tenancy

Whether you have a fixed term lease or a month-to-month arrangement, be sure to specifically outline the length of tenancy in your lease agreement.  You’ll also need to include what happens at the end of the term.  Does it automatically roll into a month-to-month agreement or do they need to renew for another full term?  Be clear on this and communicate with your tenants on their plans for the future.

Here are two examples of how we handle this topic in our leases:

The terms of this tenancy shall commence on Lease Start Date and end on Lease End Date.  This Lease is only for the stated term and is NOT automatically renewable.  Landlord and Tenant must agree in writing if tenancy is to continue beyond the last day of the rental term. 

The Lease Agreement begins on Lease Start Date and will continue as a month-to-month tenancy.  Tenant is required to give notice of intent to end the Lease Agreement no less than 60 days prior to the last day of the month the Tenant wishes to reside in the residence.  

 

Financial Terms

Clearly state the monthly rent amount, as well as when / where / how to pay it.  You’ll also want to include your late fee information.  Do you have a grace period?  What is the penalty for paying late?

Here’s how we handle this part of our standard lease:

ALL TENANTS, IF MORE THAN ONE, SHALL BE JOINTLY AND SEVERALLY LIABLE FOR THE FULL AMOUNT OF ALL PAYMENTS DUE UNDER THIS LEASE.

Rent amount of Monthly Rent due on or before the 1st day of each month.  Rent shall be paid electronically. The first month’s rent and/or prorated rent amount of Prorated Rent shall be due prior to move-in. 

Every month thereafter, Tenant(s) must pay your rent on or before the 1st day of each month with Grace Period Days of grace period. The following late fees will apply for payments made after the grace period:

Late fee rule: $45.00
Daily late fee: $5.00

Payments must be made electronically through use of the Tenant Online Portal.  Tenant(s) will be provided with login information and must set up automatically recurring payments to be deducted from Tenant(s)’ bank account or credit account on or before the 1st day of each month.  

Also include what you charge for returned payments:

A charge of $50 will apply for every returned check or rejected electronic payment plus the amount of any fees charged to the Owner/Agent by any financial institution as a result of the check not being honored, plus any applicable late fee charges. 

Clearly state the security deposit amount and when it must be paid.  You’d be dumbfounded at how many tenants are surprised that they have to pay the deposit immediately.  Also outline what the deposit can and cannot be used for and when it will be returned to them.  Some states require landlords to pay tenants for interest earned on security deposits, so be sure to find out if your state is one of them.

Here’s our excerpt, based on Wisconsin requirements:

Upon execution of this Lease, Tenant agrees to pay a security deposit in the amount of Security Deposit Charges, to be held by the Landlord’s Agent.  In the event that interest is earned on the security deposit amount held in trust, the Landlord’s Agent alone will retain any potential interest earnings.  

When Tenant vacates the Premises or if evicted, Tenant’s security deposit, less any amounts legally withheld, will be delivered or mailed to Tenant’s last known address within 21 days after the date established in Wis. Stat. 704.28(4).  Tenant is solely responsible for giving the Landlord his/her new address.  

Under no circumstances is the security deposit to be used for the last month’s rent.  

Addenda

After you’ve finished fine-tuning your standard lease agreement, turn your attention to your addenda.  Here is your opportunity to really hone in on your specific rules and policies for each property.

Legally Required Documents

In Wisconsin, we are required to include a document called “Non-Standard Rental Provisions,” which deals with anything a tenant could be charged for, landlord right of entry, and any other items that may take rights away from the tenant.  We also must provide information about smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Many states also require you to outline what utilities are included and those that the tenants are responsible for.

Your state may have documentation that you are required to give tenants, so be sure to do your research.  NOLO has some great legal resources for landlords and offers summary pages for each state’s requirements on landlord/tenant laws.  Check it out here.

All landlords are required to provide a lead paint disclosure and the pamphlet from the EPA to anyone renting or selling a home built prior to 1978.

Specific Policies

You can include as many addendum items as you need and tailor them to individual properties.  For example, we have two subdivisions with restrictive neighborhood covenants.  Therefore, we have an addendum specific to those rentals.

Below are a few examples of addenda that you may wish to include in your lease package:

  • Lease Breaking Policy & Fees – Outline your policy on breaking a lease as well as any fees that you will be charging.  Be very clear as to what your minimum charge is for breaking a lease.  If you allow tenants the option to show their own unit and procure their own subleaser, include that information as well as the caveat that the new tenant must be approved by the landlord.  
  • Pet Agreement – If you have units that allow pets, create a separate addendum to outline your pet policy.  Treat it like a separate lease agreement for their pet, including the pet’s name and description, pet rent amount, pet deposit amount, and any pet-related rules. 
  • Rules & Regulations – This addendum will allow you to input all the rules and policies that you don’t want to include in your basic lease agreement.  Ours is around 50 items and covers things like requiring a plunger next to every toilet, bathroom fan use during and after every shower, recycling requirements, details on tenant maintenance responsibilities and requests, renter’s insurance, etc.   Don’t be afraid to make a long list of items — it is in everyone’s best interest to cover all of these issues at the start of a lease.  

Your lease is the most important document that you will ever create.  It is absolutely crucial that you build it in such a way that you are protecting both your investment and yourself as an owner/landlord.  These simple clauses can make all the difference in the event of litigation.  They also may prevent a few headaches when working with tenant issues, making it easy to point back to a signed lease agreement on any disputed terms.


We again remind you that legal compliance is paramount and you must ensure that you are meeting all laws and requirements specific to your state and local municipalities.  Best practice is to always have your lease and addenda templates proofed by a specialized attorney to ensure legal compliance.  

Keeping Good Tenants Long-Term

Turning over property from one tenant to another can be a very expensive process, especially if your rentals aren’t exactly spring chickens. The older a home gets, the more costly those turnovers seem to be.

 

Here are a few tips to help you keep your tenants longer and avoid costly turnovers:

 

  •  Timeliness.  From the moment an applicant contacts you about a rental home, it is imperative that you respond quickly and continue to do so throughout their tenancy. When a tenant sees that you are quick to respond to their needs, they will be more likely to renew their lease. This stands for minor inquiries up through emergency maintenance issues. Treat them like your number one priority and they are far more likely to stick around for another year.
  • Incentives. Offering an incentive to a tenant to renew their lease does not have to be a costly affair. Upgrade an old appliance, add a dishwasher or microhood, offer a complimentary carpet cleaning, or other minor improvements may be enough to encourage your tenant to renew for another year. Consider asking the tenant what they would like as a bonus for renewing — is it an accent wall? A new front door? A closet upgrade? Most tenants are hesitant to ask for anything because they expect the answer to be no. Let them know that you’re open to making small improvements to keep them happy and they will thank you for it.
  • Long-term leases. Sometimes tenants know they intend to stay for the long haul. Offer them the security and peace of mind of a long-term lease. You’ll want to account for rent increases over the duration of the lease term by doing a mid-range increase, but still less than what you might charge a new incoming tenant. Just be sure that your lease breaking fees are clearly included in your lease packet to protect yourself from the unexpected happening in the middle of a 3-year lease.
  • Maintenance. Keeping up with regular maintenance will go a long way with tenants. Semi-annual property inspections and quarterly maintenance will not only keep your property in top shape longer, it will also show the tenants that you care about the quality of your rentals as well as their comfort and security.

This list is not all-inclusive and may not be effective with all tenants in all areas.  However, it’s a good start and will not only help you keep your tenants longer but also improve your reputation.  As word of mouth spreads that you are an exceptional, attentive landlord, high-quality applicants are going to start calling to rent your properties.

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