An agreement can be short-term or long-term. A short-term agreement is referred to as a rental agreement whereas a long-term one is referred to as a lease. A rental agreement usually runs month to month, while a lease runs anywhere from 6 months to a year.
Regardless of the type of agreement though, both set out the rules that landlords and tenants must follow. These are legally binding contracts that spell out the rights and responsibilities of each party for the duration of the tenancy.
Now, a lease or rental agreement must contain certain terms for it to be effective. This article will cover some of the basic terms to include in your rental/ lease agreements.
The Names of All Adult Tenants
Your lease should list the names of all adult tenants living on the premises. This should include both members of a married or an unmarried couple. By doing this, it makes every adult member living on the property legally liable to the terms of the agreement.
When it comes to renting, for example, you’ll now have a legal foothold to demand it from anyone named on the lease should one skip paying it. Also, you may be able to terminate the tenancy should any of the tenants violate the lease.
Limits on Who Can Occupy the Property
An effective lease or rental agreement is also one that specifically states who the tenant is. It should define that a tenant is the only person, including their children allowed to stay in the unit.
This will guarantee your right to determine who lives on the premises. And, ideally, these would be people that have passed your screening process.
You’ll also have legal grounds to evict anyone who isn’t named as a tenant on the lease. For instance, an unauthorized roommate who may be living with your tenant.
The Length of the Tenancy
Your lease should also state the length of time it’ll be running. Don’t leave it to guesswork, let the tenant know the type of lease agreement they are signing.
Short-term agreements usually run month-to-month and self-renew until either party decides to terminate it by serving the other a 30 days’ notice.
Leases, on the other hand, run from anywhere between six months and a year. They only terminate once the entire term has run its entire course.
Stating the term of the tenancy helps minimize cases of having a holdover tenant. A holdover tenant is a tenant that refuses to leave after their term has ended. To get rid of them, requires you to go through the formal eviction process which can be time-consuming and costly.
Details About Rent
Your lease should also provide important details about rent. Besides just stating the rent amount, your lease should also state other important details such as:
- When rent is due - Typically, rent becomes due on the first day of every month.
- How rent is to be paid - For example, will you require your tenants to pay you by check, by mail, or online?
- The amount charged for late fees - Landlords have a right to charge a late fee once rent becomes past due.
- The amount of grace period - While no law in Oklahoma compels landlords to offer one, landlords usually give tenants an extra few days to pay rent when the due date has passed.
- Fees if the rent check bounces - Oklahoma considers bounced checks as a form of fraud.
Details About Security Deposits
Security deposits can become a source of conflict between landlords and tenants. A tenant may think they have left their unit just like they found it, but the landlord may hold a contrary view.
The tenant may then move to court to sue the landlord for unjustified deductions to their deposits. To avoid or minimize such issues, your agreement should be clear on the use and return of security deposits.
The following are some basic details it should cover:
- The amount of security deposit - Under Oklahoma security deposit laws, landlords aren’t prohibited on how much they can charge. Note, however, that overcharging your tenants can be counterproductive.
- When and how you should return it - In Oklahoma, landlords have 45 days to return their tenants’ deposits once they have moved out.
- What circumstances you may use a tenant’s deposit - Common reasons include covering damage exceeding normal wear and tear and covering unpaid utility bills if a tenant moves out without clearing them.
Responsibility for Repairs and Maintenance
An effective lease or rental agreement is also one that sets out the responsibility for repairs and maintenance. This is the best defense against rent-withholding hassles and a slew of other problems.
You should let your tenant know the responsibility they have when it comes to the unit’s upkeep. For instance, their responsibility to keep the unit clean and sanitary at all times.
You should also have a requirement on your lease in regards to your tenant’s responsibility to notify you of any maintenance issues. Furthermore, include details on what your tenant can and can’t do when it comes to repairs and alterations.
Your Right to Enter their Rented Premises
As a landlord, you have a right to enter your tenant’s unit to carry out important responsibilities. For example, to:
- Show the unit to prospective tenants, buyers, or lenders
- Make needed or requested repairs
- Inspect the unit
- In cases of an emergency
To avoid claims of illegal entry or privacy violations, state how much advance notice you’ll provide before entering into the agreement. Oklahoma requires landlords to provide their tenants a notice at least 24 hours before entering their rented homes. The entry must also be made within reasonable times.
Having a solid lease or rental agreement will not only protect you but will also protect your Oklahoma investment property and tenants. It will also help to avoid or minimize conflicts down the line. If you find the prospect of drafting up a lease on your own daunting reach out to a property management expert.
The experts at Draper Realty can help you with your lease agreement and all other aspects of property management. Contact us today to learn more about our services!