What is the purpose of a basic lease agreement?
Your lease is a contract between you and your tenant, giving them the right to live in your Killeen rental property for a fixed period of time and in exchange for a monthly rental payment.
Lease agreements are important to Killeen landlords because it’s a legally binding agreement that sets forth the rules, policies, and procedures for living in the rental property. There are clearly defined and assigned responsibilities for both the landlord and the tenant. There’s a process for rent collection, maintenance reporting, and conflict resolution.
In short, your lease agreement is in place to protect you, your property, and your tenants.
A good lease agreement will comply with the Texas Property Code. It will be legally compliant with Texas state laws and it will also be legally enforceable if there’s a lease violation that needs a remedy.
Since this document is so important, there are many details that go into lease agreements. You’ll have the general lease and then you’ll also have some addenda that address specific situations.
If you’re working with a Killeen property management company, you won’t have to find the right lease template or negotiate the terms of that lease with your tenants. Your property managers can be relied on to create and execute a strong lease.
If you’re managing a Killeen rental property on your own, you may struggle to find a good lease template. There are many options online, but you need to be careful. You’ll find a lot of samples that aren’t exactly what you need. A generic lease on the internet isn’t necessarily going to do what you need it to do in Texas.
A property management company based in Harker Heights, Shine Residential Management cares for exceptional single-family homes throughout Central Texas, including in Killeen, Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Salado, and Georgetown.
In today’s blog, we are talking about the most important things that must be included in your Killeen lease agreement. This is certainly not a complete list of what your lease agreement should reflect. It’s simply a starting point. These are the things that every basic lease agreement must cover.
Identify Parties Signing the Lease and Provide Contact Information
Who are the parties beholden to the lease agreement? This is an important first step to signing and executing a lawful lease. You need to identify who is signing the lease.
The obvious parties are owners, tenants, additional occupants, and sometimes – your Killeen property managers.
The lease should list all adult tenants who will be financially responsible for rental payments and the property. Don’t leave anyone off. If there are several people moving in, make sure all of them are named and make sure all of them sign the lease.
Include the names and contact information for all of your tenants and any additional occupants who aren’t necessarily responsible financially, such as children. You still want the names and ages of those kids, but they’ll be listed as occupants and not financially responsible tenants.
After identifying the residents, the lease agreement should include the name of the property owner or owners. When you’re working with a Killeen property manager, it’s critical to include their name and contact information. That’s the person tenants will want to reach out to if something goes wrong.
Make sure the lease establishes that only the listed tenants are permitted to live in the property. You don’t want to invite unauthorized residents to move in when they have not been screened.
Identify the Killeen Rental Property
You and your tenants will agree to the condition of the property in writing when the move-in inspection is completed. The lease should also reference what type of property it is, and what’s included, such as appliances or garages.
This does not need to take up more than a paragraph. Simply reference the rental home as a condo in an HOA community or a single-family home with an attached one-car garage. Mention whether there’s a washer and dryer, a refrigerator, or a swimming pool.
Lease Length and Renewal Terms
Most lease agreements cover a period of one year or more. You should establish a specific time period in the lease, including a date on which the lease agreement begins and when it ends.
Make sure you’re clear about what happens when that end date arrives. Things to consider include:
- Does the lease convert to a month-to-month residency?
- Does the lease automatically renew?
- How much notice does a tenant need to provide before moving out?
You want your tenants to be clear on when they need to let you know if they decide to move out. You want them to feel prepared if a new lease is offered towards the end of the term.
Rent Collection Policies and Security Deposit Details
You expect rent to be paid on time, so the lease should stipulate exactly:
- How much rent is due.
- When it must be paid.
- How it should be paid.
- Whether there is a grace period.
- How much of a late fee is collected when rent isn’t paid on time.
This rent collection policy will be an easy point of reference for tenants who may worry about what will happen if they can’t pay until the third of the month or if they need a way to pay that isn’t an online transfer.
Your lease agreement should also reference security deposits.
If any fees are paid, such as pet fees, you’ll want to disclose those costs as well. The lease should state how much was collected, where it’s being held, and what will have to be done at the end of the lease term in order for the tenants to receive a full refund of that deposit.
Instructions on Maintenance Responsibilities
How do you want maintenance to be handled? Be specific about it in your lease agreement.
A good lease explains how maintenance should be approached. What is an emergency and how should an emergency be reported? What about routine maintenance – is there a different procedure when there’s less urgency to fixing a problem?
You’ll also want your lease to address the maintenance responsibilities of the owner and the tenant. When you’re specific about who handles landscaping and who takes care of cleaning and light bulb changes, there is less confusion with your tenants about what they’re expected to be doing and what they can expect you to take care of.
List Rules and Requirements for Killeen Rental Homes
You’ll want to set some basic ground rules in your lease agreement. Sometimes, these show up in addenda to a lease. In other instances, they show up inside the greater lease document. Always reference:
- Pet policy. Even if you allow pets, you will likely have some restrictions in place. You may have a limit on how many pets you’ll allow and how large they can be. There should be breed restrictions. Your pet policy should include any pet fees, pet deposits, or pet rent. Include expectations for how the animal will behave at the property and around neighbors. If you don’t allow pets, make sure you have something in the lease that’s very clear about this.
- Smoking policy. We believe a no-smoking policy is the best way to protect the condition and integrity of your home. Designate outdoor spaces for tenants who want to smoke or vape. This policy should extend to marijuana as well as tobacco.
- Prohibition against criminal activity. You don’t want any illegal activities taking place in your property and if they are discovered, they should be grounds for immediate termination of the lease and eviction.
- Circumstances under which a landlord can enter the property. Your tenants have a right to privacy and the enjoyment of their home. You’ll want to enter for an annual preventative maintenance inspection, perhaps, so make sure this is written into the lease agreement. Include specifics on how much notice you’ll provide. Your lease should also permit you to enter if there’s an emergency and the tenant is not home.
- Policy on rental increases. Note in your lease agreement how often you can raise the rent and how much notice you’ll provide before the new rent goes into effect.
Killeen HOA Rules and Requirements
More and more rental properties are located in HOA communities. If you’re renting out a home in an HOA or a community association, they will have their own set of rules and regulations. Make sure your lease agreement includes them.
Most HOAs will restrict parking on the streets. There will be rules about flags, lawn care, pets, and guests. Some associations will require a separate application or a deposit for things like pool keys. You want your tenants to be informed, so make sure they have all the information they need. Attach a copy of the HOA rules and regulations if you can.
When we’re reviewing basic lease agreements for the Killeen rental properties we manage, these are always the things we look for first. There may be legal addenda you need to include as well, depending on the age of your property and the materials that were used in its construction. This is why it’s so important to work with an attorney or a professional Killeen property manager. You want to make sure the lease covers everything it needs to.
Please contact us at Shine Residential Management if you need help with your lease agreement, compliance with the Texas Property Code, or anything else pertaining to property management in Killeen and the surrounding area.