Tenant Responsibilities: Rental Rules for Tenancy Agreements


August 7, 2019

Want to start off on the right foot with your new tenant? First, establish the rental rules and responsibilities in the tenancy agreement. This is an opportunity to set up standards and outline your expectations. Ideally, you will establish a healthy tenant-landlord relationship from the beginning while simultaneously, protecting your property.

 

Universal Rules

The standard tenant responsibilities for a tenancy agreement are:

  • For the tenant to pay rent and utility bills on time
  • They care of the property and report or repair minor damage
  • The tenant hands back a property in the same condition as on move-in day (with the exception of normal wear and tear)
  • They bear the liability to cover insurance of personal belongings

Landlords are responsible for fulfilling the following aspects of a tenancy agreement:

  • The landlord maintains the structure of the building, plumbing, and electricity
  • They cover the insurance for the building and all of the contents that are landlord-owned
  • She or he provides a written notice to enter the property at least 24 hours ahead, with the exception of emergencies
  • They protect the rental deposit

Along with these standard responsibilitiesadd specific house rules into a tenant agreement. For example, you can give instructions to follow for the standard tenant responsibilities. This will make for a more efficient tenancy and ideally a more responsible tenant.

 

Payments

As a landlord, you should provide clear information on what the rental fees are, the dates they are due and your preferred method of payment. Don't leave out charges for late payments! To avert liability, make utility confirmation a rule required for switching into a tenants name before move-in.

 

Property Maintenance

Landlords should inform tenants about how to submit maintenance requests and how they will be handled. At Blueground, we manage maintenance requests through our guest app which includes on-demand cleaning services. Ideally, the tenant should keep your property clean to avoid cosmetic damage and attracting pests. They are required to upkeep the interior decor, furnishings, appliances and outdoor areas of your property. As a landlord, you have to maintain the foundations of your property such as electrical wiring, plumbing, and heating/cooling systems.

The tenancy agreement is also an opportunity to set boundaries for what a tenant can and can’t do with home decor and home improvements. To avoid the unwanted surprise of a brightly painted wall or unfortunate tenant DIY, establish the clear permissions required for property improvements.

 

Inspections

man wearing a white collared shirt and khaki paints and a black clipboard while holding phone to his ear

Landlords should set out the schedule for the expected frequency of property inspections and the notice you will give the tenant prior to entering the property. Your right of entry for inspections allows you to monitor the condition of your property and the renter's behavior. Additionally, a thorough move-in inventory of your property acts as a reference point for the tenant. This makes them aware of the standard the rental must be maintained and returned in.

 

Additional rules:

Pets

If you want your rental property to be pet-free or pet-friendly it needs to be stated in the tenancy agreement. Further, some states require documentation for pets such as pet licenses and vaccinations. To avoid confusion, define the type of pets you allow. In an ideal lease, weight restrictions and the number of pets allowed per rental is included in the lease. A tenant should be responsible for cleaning up after the pet and are liable for any pet-caused property damage. Therefore you should consider including a pet deposit in the tenancy agreement for pet-friendly rentals.

Occupancy

Property owners ought to clearly specify the limits of occupancy for your rental. List the names of authorized tenants on the lease agreement. If things go south, you will have grounds to evict a tenant who invites a friend to move-in or sublets the unit, without permission.

Utilities

Will your property have utilities included in the rental fee? Or will your tenant be responsible for taking over utility bills and keeping on top of the payments? Leaving tenants responsible for their electricity, heat, air conditioning, internet, and cable TV bills allows them to monitor the usage to stay within their budget.

Keys

Have you covered who takes responsibility for a loss of keys? As a landlord, you should provide a tenant with a set of keys that they will return at the end of the tenancy. On the other side, tenants should be made aware of the fees for replacing keys or having a lock changed.

Notice Period

Landlords should state the notice period a tenant is required to give you before vacating the property. Unfortunately, not having sufficient time to find a new tenant can result in long periods of vacancy and lost rental income. In most cases, a standard notice period is 30 days. Consequently, being flexible with rental contracts and renting for mid-long term stays is an option for keeping your rental occupied more often.

Smoking

woman sitting on a couch holding a cigarette and a lighter about to start smoking

As a landlord, you are in control of the rules for where your tenant can and can’t smoke. This includes outdoor areas, balconies, and entryways. Smoking can cause bad smells and damage to the interior of a property. To keep your rental property smoke-free, make it a clear policy in your tenancy agreement that covers all areas of your rental.

Waste removal

A tenant should be responsible for the waste that they generate. Make it clear what trash removal services are provided. Explain their responsibility to adhere to waste removal. This includes the frequency of removal, recycling and composting in your building. Failing to keep on top of waste removal is not just unsightly, it can also result in pest infestations.

Illegal activity

It is wise to include a rental rule that prohibits disruptive behavior and illegal activities at your property. This will restrict excessive noise that could antagonize the neighbors. It could also prevent illicit and criminal acts such as drug dealing.

Parking

If you offer parking amenities with your rental include the rules relating this in your tenancy agreement. Clearly stating areas designated for parking and those which are out-of-bounds for vehicles keeps everyone on the same page. Better yet, it is advisable to assign specific parking spaces to tenants.

Communication

Keeping in regular contact and being responsive to requests will enable you to establish a rapport with your tenants. Effectively managing a tenancy requires clear communication from both tenants and landlords. Tenants should be clear about their responsibility to report maintenance issues and cooperate with property inspections. You want tenants to feel at home in your property, so respect their privacy, making sure you have adequate home-security in place. It helps to establish landlord office hours during which tenants can come and talk to you about any standard issues they may be having with their rentals.

Lease cancellation

It’s sensible to cover all options for lease cancellation. If a tenant gives the full notice period stated in the tenancy agreement, then a cancellation fee is not required. However, penalties should be in place to cover leases canceled less than 30 days prior to the start date. At Blueground, we charge a fee equal to a monthly rent payment. Tenants who wish to cancel their lease do so in writing and are given a confirmation.

Blueground drafts and enforces our lease agreements on behalf of our property owners. We are always looking to add new properties to our listings and would love to speak with you about the benefits of working with us.


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