When you have a tenant sign a lease agreement, you want to ensure that the terms and conditions meet both parties’ needs and satisfy all legal requirements. That being said, if you include anything in the agreement that does not abide by landlord-tenant laws, you could be facing some harsh penalties. Here are just three stipulations to be mindful of in a property lease.
1. Property repairs
You cannot hold the tenant responsible for repairs that the property may require. As landlord, it is your duty to maintain a functioning environment, which includes taking care of maintenance issues and outdoor grounds-keeping. There should be no clause in your lease that requires your tenant to pay for maintenance repairs.
However, you can hold the tenant responsible for damages that they caused. For example, if you find that they put a hole in the wall or broke a window, you can charge them the amount it takes to cover the repair costs.
2. Security deposits
A security deposit is a down payment you collect from your tenant to ensure they pay for rent and follow through with the terms of the lease. However, you must, in turn, hold up your end.
Under Missouri law, you may only collect a maximum of two months’ worth of rent from the tenant as their security deposit. In addition, you cannot ask your tenant to put down a non-refundable security deposit.
A security deposit should always be refundable, unless you need to use it to cover a missed rent payment. Tenants can also request that you take money out of their security deposit to pay for things like damage repairs. While there are other circumstances in which a landlord might keep a tenant’s security deposit, the lease must clarify that the money is refundable if no problems arise.
3. Right to privacy
Even though you are the owner of the property, you cannot give yourself the authority to impede on your tenant’s privacy whenever you want. In your lease terms, asking the tenant to waive their right to privacy can cause you problems. You must give your tenant either verbal or written notice 24 hours in advance if you plan on stopping by.
Protect yourself with a clear lease agreement
Any mistake or oversight in your lease can lead to costly consequences. A simple misunderstanding can easily turn into a messy lawsuit. Make sure that your lease agreement meets legal requirements to protect your and your tenant’s rights.