Landlords: 5 Clauses To Include in your Lease Agreements

The key to any successful landlord-tenant relationship is a solid lease agreement that includes all legally required clauses and additional ones addressing any contingencies that may arise. An example of a required clause in Washington is one concerning the duration of the tenancy and whether the contract is a renter’s or lease agreement. A lease agreement applies to any long-term living situation, typically twelve (12) months or longer, while renter’s agreements cover shorter term or month-to-month living situations. Some other clauses that should be no-brainers are rent amount and due date(s), late fees, what happens when either party breaks the lease, and security deposits. 

What are some extra clauses that can strengthen your lease agreement? We have outlined five below:

  1. Occupancy/Subletting Clause. One of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants arises when an unauthorized occupant is discovered residing at the premises who did not apply for residency. Having a clause that specifies approved tenants and occupants is an effective way to root out many potential problems before leasing the residence. You may also choose to include subleasing requirements in this clause, if permitted. 
  2. Severability Clause. This gets into legalese that you or your tenants might not be familiar with, but this clause is an assurance that the entire lease agreement is not voided in court if one clause is deemed invalid. Some judges are known to void the entire lease or renter’s agreement if one part is voided, so including this clause in your agreement provides a significant layer of protection in court should a particular clause be voided. 
  3. Entry to Property Clause. The terms of this clause will need to be in accordance with state law. Washington state mandates that landlords give renters at least one day’s notice before entering the property to show to prospective future renters, and two days for other non-emergency situations. There is no notice required when entering the property for repairs, renovations, or inspections, but it is still a good idea to address these situations with a clause and to provide advance notice to tenants when possible. 
  4. Pets Clause. Some leases do not include this item, which can give tenants an apparent green light to bring as many domesticated animals in as they please. So, if you do not want to allow pets in your rental space, you need to explicitly spell this out in the lease agreement. The same goes for, say, specific dog breeds you want to keep out of the space. Important to remember, service animals are not considered pets.  
  5. Repairs and Maintenance Clause. While landlords will usually be responsible for major repairs and maintenance issues, tenants still have an obligation to keep the space sanitary throughout the term. You should make it clear that for certain issues, the tenant must notify the landlord in a reasonable amount of time to reduce further damage to the property. 




Call Us Before Sending Lease AgreementsThe consequences of issuing an invalid lease or renter’s agreement can include thousands of dollars in damages and a tarnished reputation. There are online forms masquerading as valid agreements, but these may not be state-specific or fully and accurately define the agreement between a tenant and yourself. The only way to be sure your lease agreement you’ve drafted is optimal is to consult with an experienced real-estate attorney, like Jacqueline McMahon. Please reach out to us today and see how we can help.

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McMahon Law Group

Legal issues of any type can be a frightening and overwhelming experience, and certainly something you don’t want to face alone. Attorney Jacque McMahon and the McMahon Law Group will work closely with you to ensure you not only get the best legal representation possible, but that you are well-informed throughout the process. If you are facing legal issues, please contact us to discuss your situation and get the help you need.

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