The best way for Nashville landlords and investors to protect their investment and avoid legal liability is by having a strong lease agreement in place. A comprehensive lease agreement is vital for the success of your investment and a smooth tenancy.
Crafting well-written lease agreements can help strengthen relationships between landlords and tenants, providing clarity on expectations and responsibilities. What should your lease agreement include? There are some key pieces of information that you’ll want to include in every lease agreement.
Let’s take a look at the requirements of a lease agreement in Tennessee.
Make Sure Your Lease Agreement is State-Specific
You might go online, looking for a template or a sample you can use for your lease.
That makes sense, especially if you’re not working with a Nashville property management company that will provide the lease. But, beware of the template you download and use. There are specific things that Tennessee law may require, and you won’t necessarily find them in a lease agreement that was written in New York or California. Get a reliable lease agreement from a local property manager or your local chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers. You can also check with local attorneys who specialize in landlord/tenant law.
You’ll need a lease that’s both legally enforceable in Tennessee and legally compliant with Tennessee landlord/tenant laws.
Identify Tenants, Owners, and Nashville Property Managers
Your lease needs to reflect who is renting the property and who owns the property. Start by identifying your tenants.
List every adult 18 years of age and older as a tenant on the lease agreement. You’ll need their full names as reflected on their government-issued identification. Collect identifying information for your own files, such as a social security number and driver’s license number. Residents under 18 years of age are not legally responsible for rent, but they should still be included in the lease as occupants so you know who they are.
The lease should specifically state that occupancy is limited to the parties listed on the lease. You don’t want any long-term visitors in your property who have not been screened. Don’t make it easy for tenants to turn guests into residents. That will present legal complications and potential liability issues.
Identify the Lease Term for Nashville Rental Properties
Include the state date and end date of the lease.
A good lease will stipulate whether the lease renews automatically at the end date, or whether it turns into a month-to-month arrangement. You also want to reference how much notice you and the tenant must provide to end the tenancy. When it’s time for the lease to renew or end, there needs to be a consistent procedure that tenants can easily reference in their lease. Generally, it’s 30 days or 60 days of notice that one party has to give.
Rent Collection Policy and Security Deposit Amounts
The lease must reflect the rent, and it should say more than what the rental amount is. Include your full rent collection policy, which ought to include:
- How much rent is due every month and the total amount that’s due over the 12-month lease term (or however many months the lease covers).
- Whether there is a grace period for payment of the rent, and what that grace period is.
- On which date rent is officially late.
- How rent should be paid (check, online, etc.).
- Consequences or penalties for late payments, such as late fees and eviction.
The lease agreement should reflect how much of a security deposit was collected and how it will be used. This is a good time to tell tenants what will be required in order to get their full security deposit refunded. When it’s in writing, they’ll be able to refer to those instructions before moving out.
List All Landlord and Tenant Maintenance Responsibilities
Who is responsible for the landscaping and the pest control? Who changes the air filters, and how frequently? These are important questions that belong in the lease agreement.
If you want to avoid disputes with tenants over repairs and property condition, be clear about who is responsible for what in your lease. Maintaining a property is a joint responsibility, and your tenants need to know what you expect from them.
The lease should indicate who will pay for utilities, landscaping, and any pool or spa services if you provide those amenities.
In the maintenance part of the lease agreement, be sure to list the method for reporting routine and emergency maintenance. Identify what would be considered an emergency.
Rules and Regulations at your Nashville Rental Property
Your lease should reflect whether you allow smoking and pets. It should reference guests and parking. If there are specific policies for pets and guests, make sure the language makes its way into the lease.
It should also notify tenants about what is and isn’t allowed in the home or the common areas. You should also include language that requires the landlord to provide a specific notice period before entering the home. Your lease can prohibit excessive noise, illegal activity, and other disruptions to the neighborhood.
If your investment property is in an HOA, make sure the tenant receives a copy of those rules and regulations.
Finally, make sure you indicate under what conditions the lease agreement will be terminated or voided. Tenants will occasionally need to break a lease. Make sure you have something in place that dictates how such an event will be handled.
If you need some help putting together an enforceable and solid lease agreement, we’re the team that can assist you. Contact us at TCS Management.
TCS Management is a full service property management company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also serving Cherry Hill, NJ, Wilmington, Delaware, Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding areas. We focus on single-family and multifamily residential property management of homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings.