For real estate investors, one of the most important things is protecting their property.
By protecting their rental property, they are essentially protecting their investments. And one of the best ways to do just this is by having a set of house rules for renters.
Each house rule should be included in the lease agreement and should always serve a purpose for the property.
In this guide, we will be going over the top 15 essential house rules that every rental agreement should include.
To begin, let's quickly go over why these house rules are so important.
Why Are House Rules Important?
As you think about what rules to include in the rental agreement, it is important to consider the importance of these rules. This means that you shouldn't add rules that are not relevant to the property or are not of importance. You should always remember that the rules are meant to protect the property, not inconvenience the tenants.
Apart from protecting the property, some of the other reasons for having rules include:
- Setting clear expectations for the tenant
- Allowing the landlord to take legal action
- Preventing the tenant from abusing the landlord
Some of the other things that should always be kept in mind when writing out the house rules include state laws and reasonable accommodations.
Knowing The Law
Various aspects of property management and real estate in general are dictated by a set of landlord-tenant laws. There are laws that control things like the security deposit, the grace period, and even renters insurance.
Therefore, it is vital that you set the rules carefully. If there is a rule in the agreement that is not in accordance with the law, the landlord can face fierce legal action from the tenant.
If you want to learn more about your state laws, make sure to visit DoorLoop's Laws Page and quickly find your state. Apart from knowing the law, the landlord should also remember that reasonable accommodations can and should be made in some cases, discussed below.
It is also important to remember that the lease agreement is just that, an agreement. Meaning, the landlord should be flexible with the tenant, to a certain extent. For example, there are typically rules that determine when the tenant should pay rent and what the consequences are for making a late payment. However, if the tenant is typically responsive and pays on time, one late payment should not carry very severe consequences.
Providing reasonable accommodations to tenants can also include making exceptions to the rules. Like, for example, if a tenant has a support animal. In these cases, the tenant is usually allowed to have the animal on the property, even if it is against the house rules. This is known as a reasonable accommodation, and it is actually against the law in some states to deny it.
Now, before getting into the list of essential rules, let's discuss some of the ways that landlords can enforce these rules.
How To Enforce House Rules
It is extremely important to remember that a set of rules does not mean anything if they are not enforced. For this reason, landlords must find ways to enforce them.
One of the most common ways to enforce these rules is by conducting inspections. By conducting inspections, you have a chance to look through the entire rental home and make sure that there is nothing lease-breaking on the property. For more on rental property inspections, be sure to visit DoorLoop's Full Guide On Property Inspections.
However, these inspections don't apply to all rules, like paying rent or quiet hours. For these rules, landlords will typically institute a penalty of some sort.
These penalties could be a late fee or a fine to cover any extra costs. It is vital that all of these penalties and fees be included in the lease agreement from the start of the tenancy.
In the worst of cases, the landlord may look into starting an eviction process. As this is a very time-consuming and expensive task, it is saved as a last resort. For more information on evictions, visit DoorLoop's Guide To A Fast And Legal Eviction.
So, now that we know about some things to keep in mind when writing the rules for your property, let's get into the 15 most essential rules for every lease agreement to include.
Top 15 Essential House Rules For Renters
Below, we have provided a list of the 15 most essential house rules for every landlord to consider including in their lease agreements.
1. Paying Rent On Time
Whether it be a residential property, multi-family property, commercial property, or any other property, paying rent on time is one of the most important rules. In the rental industry, landlords and property managers must collect rent to continue doing their job.
This is exactly why paying rent is typically at the top of a property's list of rules. Within the rule itself, the landlord should include information about when the rent is due and how the rent should be paid. If any third-party software is used, this would be the place to specify it.
2. Grace Periods/Late Fees
Right after the rule regarding paying rent, or in the same section, should be rules about grace periods and late fees. As mentioned before in the post, tenants should be given reasonable accommodation but should also be penalized for breaking the lease.
Landlords typically give their tenants a small number of days after the rent is due when they can pay the rent with no penalty. After that, many landlords will charge a late fee for the rent. This exact amount, as well as the exact length of the grace period, should be included as part of the rules.
3. Maintenance On Property
Next on the list of rules should be some rules regarding the maintenance of the property. This rule should cover what maintenance the tenant is responsible for on the property as well as how to submit maintenance requests for things the tenant is not responsible for.
This rule should also cover what maintenance request counts as an emergency. For the ones that are not emergencies, however, the landlord should specify where to submit the maintenance requests.
4. Security Deposit Deductions
The security deposit is immensely important to tenants. This is why it is recommended to include information about what will be deducted from security deposits within the rules.
By including this information, you are giving the tenant a guide on how to keep the entire deposit. It also protects the landlord from any legal dispute if deductions are required at the end of the tenancy.
5. Renter's Insurance
Renter's insurance is not legally required for the tenants. However, many landlords choose to include it as a requirement for their rental properties. The reason for this is that renter's insurance provides various protections for both the landlord and the tenant.
The main thing that renters insurance protects is the tenant and their belongings. Apart from that, renters insurance may also cover certain property damage as well as any injuries that occur within the property.
For landlords, requiring renters insurance can save them from potential lawsuits and charges. Since renters insurance can cover property damage and injuries within the property, the landlord is not held liable. Renter's insurance can even help with relocation assistance in some states.
6. Pet Policy
Pet policies differ greatly from property to property. Whether or not they are allowed in a certain property should be clearly outlined in the house rules.
If there are no pets allowed on the property, you may have to prepare to make exceptions for service animals and support animals. To learn more about these animals, read through DoorLoop's Full Guide On Housing Support Animals.
For those properties that do allow pets and animals, the rules should still specify:
- Any breed restrictions
- Limits on the number of pets
- What kind of animals are allowed
- Any pet fees or extra charges
If all of this information is not specified in the rules, you may end up with unwanted animals on the property. This could quickly lead to damage past normal wear and tear, or even excessive noise levels.
7. Consequences Of Violating The Lease
Although specific rules should have their own, individual consequences, there should be a rule that explains how serious a lease violation can be. This rule could explain to the tenant the extent of the consequences.
For example, most of the rules on the list do not necessarily constitute an eviction. However, in this section, you can explain that multiple infractions, or serious ones, of the rules can and will result in an eviction.
The set of rules for a property should also include one about the noise. Noise complaints from nearby neighbors are very common. And, unfortunately, the authorities will usually be contacted before the landlord.
To avoid this problem, landlords should include rules about noise in the lease agreement. One of the common ways of doing this is by enforcing "quiet hours". Quiet hours are typically from the evening to the early morning and are a time period where the noise should be kept to a minimum.
9. Renewing The Lease
Another rule that should be included in the lease agreement is in regard to renewing it. the common practice is for the landlord to provide the terms of a renewal with plenty of time before the lease expires.
Then, the tenant must give notice of their decision before it expires. This notice, no matter if it is to renew or not, should be sent 30 to 60 days prior to the lease expiring. All of these dates and information about the notice period should be included in the rules.
10. Changes To The Property
It is natural that tenants, especially long-term tenants, would want to give the property a personal touch. After all, they are the ones that live there and see the property every day.
Therefore, any restrictions on changes to the property, like painting or changing the floors, should be clearly specified in the rules. There should also be some information on how the landlord expects the property to look once the tenancy is over. This tells the tenant what they have to do before turning in the property, like painting the walls back to the original color.
11. Parking Arrangments
Something else that is extremely important to tenants is the parking. For this reason, it is recommended that landlords include information about it in the rules.
This information should include where to park, how many people can park, and whether or not the parking needs to be paid. Since every property is different, the information should be detailed and specific.
Although tenants will usually ask for permission before subletting a property, it is important that it is specified clearly in the house rules. Even if it is allowed by the state or local law, landlords may choose to refrain from allowing their tenants to sublet the property.
The main reason for this is that the landlord would then have less control over the property. Since the sub-tenant is signing a different contract, the landlord has no say in what that contract includes. This could lead to a dispute between the landlord and the prime tenant.
However, it is also important to consider some of the benefits. One of the benefits is that it could help ensure that the landlord will receive rent payments. This is because the landlord now has a chain of two people responsible for paying the rent.
13. Conducting Business
Although a landlord can't prohibit a tenant from working from home, they can prohibit the tenant from running a business from home.
The reason for this is that, if a business exists within the property, there can be a lot of people coming in and out of the property every day. All of these people being on the property greatly increases the chance of something happening on the property. Thus, most landlords choose to prohibit businesses from running from within the property.
14. Illegal Substances/Activity
Another rule, or, law, that is enforced within the property is prohibiting illegal substances and activity on the property. While landlords may assume that since it is against the law, landlords won't do it, they are wrong.
It should also be specified that law enforcement is not the only one that can catch them. If the landlord catches wind of illegal activity within the property, that can also count as getting caught.
15. Number Of Residents
Finally, this rule relates back to the one about the business. By limiting the number of tenants that can reside in the property, the landlord is lowering their own liability. This is especially true if the tenants do not have renters insurance. Also, if there is no limit on the number of occupants, the landlord is risking excessive wear and tear on the property.
Now, although this list is not exhaustive, these rules should definitely help in maintaining the condition of the property and a healthy landlord-tenant relationship. Also, always remember that the rules in the rental agreement should be just that, an agreement. Don't be too restrictive with the rules but also don't let the tenant take advantage of you.