I am sure this is common place but believe it or not there are still landlords operating without a lease agreement.
What is a lease agreement?
A lease agreement is a document that outlines who is living in the rental unit, how much the rent is, when it is due, and the rules regarding the use of the unit. In addition, the lease agreement details what the deposit is, what utilities will be paid by the owner and the renter, how to send maintenance requests, and how to give notice when moving before the lease is up.
This document is important because it lets the tenant know what to expect, how they are to maintain the property, and what happens if the rent is late. It serves as a layer of protection for both the tenant and the owner. Aside from telling the tenant how he or she must behave while occupying the unit, it details how the landlord is to behave while the tenant is in occupancy.
The landlord is to provide the tenant with notice 24 hours prior to entering the unit for non-emergencies, how to handle the security deposit after the lease has ended or tenant has moved, and how long they are to safely and securely store your items should have difficulty getting help moving them.
The lease agreement is a contract and any breach of it has consequences for the party responsible for the breach. Landlords and property managers, a great process to implement with prospective and renewing tenants is to go through the lease with them section by section. Make sure they understand what is being said in the document so that there is no confusion. Have them initial each section to indicate they have read and understood its purpose. This process will start to slow down the amount of infractions and create a dialogue between you and your tenant that will establish a set of expectations on both ends. The tenant will you see as professional and fair. You will see the tenant as reasonable and responsible.
In addition to the lease agreement, you can addenda that explains the nuances of your business. For example: Pets, pest control, and the move-in/move-out checklist. I will talk about the checklists in another post.
If you find yourself without a good lease and reside in the state of Iowa, the Iowa Real Estate Association has got you covered. For all other states, please reach out to your local landlord association, realtor association, real estate investors association, or contact an attorney.