Trying to write a leasing agreement all by yourself? In property management, a thorough leasing agreement is essential to a straightforward and easier rental process. But how do you know what you need to include? The simple details of a lease are:
- A property owner agrees to provide housing
- A tenant promises to pay rent for that housing
But we know most leasing agreements are not two sentences long. To put it in more specific terms, a lease or rental agreement is a binding document defining the relationship between Dallas rental management companies and the tenants renting their properties. It outlines the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of the tenant and landlord, such as inspections, rent collection, proper use of the property, etc. A lease should also detail the penalties or repercussions for failing to fulfill the terms. The lease should adequately explain conditions and policies to protect both parties. Before signing the document, a prospective tenant should review all of the outlined terms and ask any necessary questions to understand the terms of the agreement fully.
Finally, to make the lease agreement legal and binding, it needs to be signed by the actual individuals involved with the rental process. Once signed, there are very few circumstances that could cause the lease to become void. Here’s what you need to know to write an effective and comprehensive leasing agreement.
What to Include in a Leasing Agreement
In Dallas rental management, a leasing agreement should include the names of all involved parties as well as a description of the property, including the address. The terms of the agreement should be clearly stated, specifically including the following information:
Rent Collecting Policies— Rent policies are more than just setting a rate and then expecting money to come in every month. The lease is the document that explains all aspects of the rent and sets up expectations with collections. Your lease should include:
- When is rent due
- Where is it paid
- How is it paid
- What fees are charged for Insufficient Funds
- What are the consequences for late payment
- Do extra pet fees apply
Security deposit information— Texas law does not limit how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. The law does require that the deposit needs to be returned within 30 days of a tenant leaving the property. Landlords can also include deposits for pets if animals are allowed in the rental agreement.
Maintenance and Repairs—The lease should also detail the process for requesting maintenance and repairs. It should be clear to you and your tenant how and when to notify the maintenance team if there is an issue and what are considered emergency circumstances.
Disclosures—Dallas rental management must write leasing agreements that include a full disclosure of the results of their defaulting on making repairs. The contract must provide information about individuals who are authorized to act on behalf of the landlord to make timely repairs when the landlord fails to do so.
Lease Termination— A lease can be terminated at any time if both parties agree. Things get more complicated when a tenant has failed to pay rent, or the tenant needs to leave the rental unit for some reason. It is important that when the lease is being prepared, the landlord carefully follows regulations regarding early lease termination and evictions.
Eviction Policies— Evictions are an area where landlords could benefit from the services of professional property management. Rental property owners in Dallas can legally give a non-paying tenant an unconditional quit notice which gives the tenant a certain amount of days to move out. Eviction policies need to carefully follow all state and local laws. These policies also need to be clearly laid out in the lease agreement.
Small Claims Lawsuits—For tenants wishing to sue Dallas rental management companies in a Justice Court for the return of their deposit, they can do so, but must limit the suit amount to $10,000.
Dallas Rental Management: Terminating a Lease Agreement
While tenant-landlord disputes are not uncommon, both parties named in the lease need to know their legal rights when it comes to breaking their lease agreement. Property condition is a major concern for both sides, as is performing required maintenance promptly. According to Texas law, Dallas property management companies and tenants can terminate a lease agreement if any of the following occurs:
1 – A Lease Agreement Expires
A lease will naturally terminate after the agreed lease time is over. Dallas rental management landlords can offer a new lease agreement, or tenants can choose to move out of the unit. A naturally expired lease term is the easiest way to terminate a lease.
2 – Tenant and Landlord Agree to Terminate Lease
The unpredictable nature of life creates circumstances where a lease agreement needs to be broken before its agreed-upon time. Texas law dictates that Dallas property management companies have to allow a tenant to terminate a lease early when a protective order is issued because of domestic violence and a tenant needs to leave the rental for safety reasons. Also, when a tenant gives 30 days notice for active military duty, a landlord needs to respect a lease cancellation. Policies regarding early lease cancellation need to be clearly explained at the time of signing. Individual circumstances may allow leases to be terminated early, but the key to amicable agreements is always good communication between the tenant and landlord.
3 – Landlord or Tenant Break Terms of Agreement
When agreed on elements of a lease agreement aren’t being met by either or both parties, the agreement is void. This is not the most amicable way to end a lease. For example, if a property falls into disrepair and no longer is up to Texas health and safety legal codes, a tenant can take action to terminate a lease. Dallas landlords can terminate a lease when tenants repeatedly disregard policies or don’t pay rent.
Breaking a lease doesn’t need to be a battle. Tenants and their Dallas rental management company can come to an amicable agreement. Try to:
- Have a legitimate reason why the lease needs to be broken
- Keep good records
- Give adequate notice
- Always be respectful and courteous to the other party involved
Tenants should remember that if they need to break the terms of the lease, their next landlord will most likely want to know why. They may contact the previous rental management company and ask for details if you don’t provide them, so try to keep things courteous and professional with your landlord at all times.
How Physical Disability Can Affect a Texas Lease Agreement
Properly prepared documents and non-discriminating policies will keep property owners legal and violation-free. There are specific laws that protect those with disabilities, and failing to follow these laws can result in serious fines. Dallas rental management companies should be aware of how they approach this protected group so they don’t accidentally break laws and put themselves in a legal mess.
What is a Disability?
Not all disabilities are immediately seen. Those who receive legal protection for having a disability are those who:
- Have a written record of a disability
- Have a mental or physical disability that limits his or her ability to perform major life activities
- Are considered by other individuals as having a disability
Discrimination can also come into play with your lease application. Dallas rental management companies should not include questions on leasing applications that ask if a person intending to live in the unit has any disabilities. You also cannot ask about the severity of a disability. Making sure your application reflects a non-discriminatory tone is the first step to keeping within this law.
Be Aware of Fair Housing in Lease Agreements
Fair Housing laws protect individuals from being denied housing because of race, color, sex, religion, presence of children, or disabilities. To accommodate tenants with special requirements, landlords may need to allow reasonable changes be made to the property at the expense of the tenant, as long as the property is put back to its original state when the tenant moves out. Stipulations and requirements for changes to accommodate disabilities should be clearly defined in the lease agreement to keep you out of legal trouble.
Don’t make the mistake of holding too tightly to a no-pet policy when a service animal is involved. Having a service animal means a no-pet policy can’t be enforced by property management companies.
The Need to Have it in Writing
The Texas Statute of Frauds states that a rental or lease agreement is only required to be in writing if the contract is intended for longer than a year. It may be true that an oral agreement is valid in court, but Dallas rental management companies should have a written lease with tenants even if a lease agreement is for a shorter period of time. A written lease is a good idea to protect both the landlord and the tenant, and to document rental expectations. Clear communication about what is expected between tenant and landlord makes for a smoother renting experience on both sides. Local libraries and law libraries open to the public are great places to find information for landlords attempting to write their own lease agreements. Remember to be aware of federal, state, and local statues surrounding the rights of both tenants and landlords.
With all aspects of property investing, buying, selling, or leasing, the laws surrounding property can be complex. Making a mistake can be costly. At Specialized Property Management Dallas, our expert in-house legal team can make sure you’re in compliance with all state, local and federal laws regarding lease agreements.