To minimize issues, a well-crafted landlord-tenant lease agreement is necessary. This is because a lease is a contractual agreement that forms the foundation of the relationship between you and your tenant.
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In any case, here’s what you should include in your rental agreement.
1. Lease Term
Generally, lease terms are either month-to-month or fixed. Fixed term leases usually run for 12 months. Make sure you use the proper terminology. If you don’t, you may find your agreement being defined by the North Carolina laws which can sometimes not be favorable to you.
Your choice should depend on the length of time you want the tenant to live on the property as well as how much control you want.
2. Tenants’ Names
A contractual agreement involves two or more parties. As such, you must name all your renters in the lease. Although this may seem straightforward, you might be surprised by the number of landlords that often overlook this critical aspect.
In this regard, make sure you list all adults living in the rental unit. And even more importantly, remember to use the name listed on their photo ID.
By listing all adults living in the Charlotte rental unit, you’ll be making them legally responsible for all lease terms. This means that you can even terminate their tenancy should any of them commit a serious lease violation. You may also be able to seek rent from any of them should the others skip out.
3. Property Description
You will need to provide a legal description of the property in your lease agreement. A good description should be able to identify, describe and locate the property. You could also make a quick video of the property.
4. Occupancy Limits
To prevent issues of subletting, make occupancy limits clear on the lease. This way you’ll have grounds to end the tenancy in the event that the renter violates the clause.
Your lease agreement should state that the people permitted to legally live on the property are only the people who have signed the lease.
5. Landlord and Tenant Rights and Duties
All parties to the lease have rights and responsibilities. These rights and responsibilities must be tailored depending on the specific property. The lease must spell out items like restrictions to tenant repairs and alterations and the renter’s responsibility to keep the premises in clean and sanitary conditions at all times.
When crafting this section, avoid making common mistakes such as demanding that a tenant give up rights already contained in the local Charlotte rental laws. For example, shifting the cost of repairs and maintenance to the tenant. Or demanding that the tenant forfeit the right to notice prior to a landlord entry to the rental unit.
6. Deposits and Fees
The relationship between tenants and landlords isn’t usually without friction. One major cause of such friction is the use and return of security deposits. To avoid issues, your Charlotte rental agreement should be crystal clear on the amount, use and refund of security deposits.
Specifically, it should clearly state:
- The security deposit amount – In North Carolina, you can charge two week’s rent for week-to-week tenants. One and a half month’s rent for the month to month tenants. And two month’s rent for anything longer than the month to month tenants.
- How you intend to store the security deposit – Under NC lease laws, landlords have two options. First, you can elect to post a bond for the security deposit. Second, you can opt to store the renter’s security deposit in a trust account.
- When and how you’ll return the deposit and account for deductions after the renter moves out – North Carolina rental law requires that you return the tenant’s security deposit within thirty days after the tenant moves out. This is, however, assuming there are no deductions as a result of property damage caused by the renter’s negligence or carelessness.
For more on security deposits in the state of North Carolina, please click here.
The lease should have clear terms when it comes to utilities. Are they part of the amount of rent? What happens if the tenant fails to pay for them?
8. Rent & Other Fees
Stay out of trouble by listing the exact amount of rent and other fees in the NC rental agreement. List them separately for clarity’s sake.
In terms of rent, besides obviously spelling out exactly how much is due, you should also state:
- Whether there are late fees if the rent isn’t paid when it’s due. In this regard, consider these things:
- Will you charge a daily fee, if so how much?
- Will you charge a flat fee, if so how much?
- What payment methods are allowed? Do you accept cash or check?
9. Right of Entry
Tenants in Charlotte have a right to quiet enjoyment of their homes. This means that a landlord can’t just enter the rental unit whenever he or she so wishes. This may constitute tenant harassment. Tenant harassment is illegal.
Generally, landlords are required to give renters a notice prior to their entry. The notice should state the reason for the entry. The entry times must also be reasonable. In North Carolina, there’s no statute that requires you to give tenants a notice before entering the rental unit. However, a 24 hours’ notice is recommended.
Landlords may enter a rental unit for various reasons. From property maintenance and repairs to emergencies and property abandonment.
Make your pet policy clear on the lease. Specify whether pets are allowed or not. If allowed, then carefully spell out your requirements and expectations. For example, state whether you charge a pet deposit and specify the pets you’ll allow.
If you charge a pet deposit, will it be refundable or not? If this is refundable, specify your requirements. For example, it’ll be refundable if the pet doesn’t cause damage or problems on your property. Damage may include scratches on the hardwood floor, stains on the carpet, and so on.
Also, if you allow pets, specify the type and number of pets allowed. Common pets include rabbits, cats, dogs, fish, gerbils, hamsters, reptiles, etc. You could even specify the weight of the pet.
Restrict tenant illegal activity to avoid potential legal issues. Without restrictions, other tenants may have legal grounds to break their lease agreements early if you don’t restrict certain disruptive and illegal behavior.
Your lease should clearly state that certain behaviors are prohibited and are grounds for terminating the rental agreement. Such behavior may include excessive noise and criminal acts like drug dealing.
12. Other Restrictions
A lease is only legal if it complies with other relevant laws. Such laws include occupancy rules, safety and health codes, and anti-discrimination laws stated in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Local laws are also key. As such it’s important to familiarize yourself with them as much as possible. Preferably, seek help from a qualified Charlotte attorney.
State laws commonly specify disclosure requirements, rules for changing or ending a tenancy, tenant’s rights to sublet or bring additional roommates, notice requirements for entering the rental property, and setting security deposit laws.
With these important items included in your Charlotte rental agreement, you can be sure that you will have minimal issues with your renter. Also, if you manage multiple properties in different cities or states, be sure to customize each agreement so that it conforms to each area’s laws.