A lease agreement is a binding contract that you’ll sign with your tenant at the beginning of the tenancy. This lease will be the first place you turn if there are any disputes, disagreements, or conflicts during the lease period, so you need to be sure it’s legal, binding, and protective of your rights and your property.
If you’re not working with a professional Phoenix property management company, we recommend that you contact an attorney before you draft and sign a lease. There are several important elements that absolutely must be included.
Use an Arizona Lease
For starters, make sure you’re using a lease that’s valid and enforceable in Arizona. It should reference laws and requirements that are specific to the state. A lot of landlords make the mistake of downloading a lease template or using a sample that isn’t state-specific. You want to make sure your lease will hold up in Arizona courtrooms if necessary.
Next, make sure the lease is in writing. It’s virtually impossible to enforce a verbal lease, and without a written lease, you cannot hold your tenants accountable for even basic things like rental payments.
Establish the Lease Term
Your lease agreement must state when the tenancy begins and when it ends. Make sure your lease covers at least one year. There are different laws and requirements for shorter lease periods. The standard lease is 12 months. You also want to stipulate what happens at the end of the lease term. Does it automatically convert to a month-to-month agreement or does the lease end so that a new one can begin?
Identify Tenants, Occupants, and Property
The lease must identify the property that’s being rented. Provide the address and a brief description, such as single-family home or unit in a condo community. Make sure you include your name and contact information as well as the tenant’s. Every adult occupant 18 years of age or older should be included on the lease. Minor children should also be listed, and you’ll want to mention the breeds, names, and ages of any pets as well.
Include Rental Amounts and Conditions
The lease agreement must include your rent collection policy. List the amount of rent that’s due, when it’s due, and how it should be paid. Make sure you mention whether there’s a grace period and if there are late fees or other consequences when rent is late or unpaid.
Include the security deposit amount that was collected. In Arizona, you cannot take more than the equivalent of one-and-a-half month’s rent for a deposit. Indicate where it will be held and how it will be returned.
Rules, Restrictions, and Requirements
The lease agreement is a good place to list out all of the things that tenants are not permitted to do at the property. It’s your opportunity to protect yourself from liability and property damage by prohibiting things like:
- Kiddie pools
- Unauthorized tenants or pets
- Altering of the property without permission
Be sure your lease agreement includes information on how much notice is required before a tenant moves out, whether guests are allowed overnight, and if renters insurance is required. You also need to include information about tenants’ compliance with HOA rules, if that applies. Include an indemnification clause and any other legally enforceable clauses that will protect you.
You’ll want to address abandoned property and include all the required disclaimers, including the federal lead paint disclaimer if your home was built before 1978.
There are a lot of legal considerations and consequences that come with your lease agreement, which is why we strongly recommend you work with an attorney or a Phoenix property management company before you sign a lease with your tenants.
Contact us at Service Star Realty if you’d like to see the type of lease we use, or to talk further about what should be included.