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The Lease Agreement: A Guide for Landlords in Northern Virginia

System - Monday, October 19, 2015

The lease agreement that you sign with the tenants living in your rental property is a legal contract that spells out the rights and responsibilities of each party. As a landlord, you need to make sure you have a strong lease in place that will protect you and your interests. Do not make the mistake of downloading a generic lease from the Internet or purchasing a lease template in an office supply store or a bookstore. You need an agreement that is specific to the laws of Virginia and the requirements of your property.

Identifying and Contact Information

The most basic information that needs to be included with your lease agreement should identify you as the landlord and all of the tenants by name. Make sure you list any resident 18 years of age or older as a lease signer, and include the names of minors who will live there as well. The lease should have the address of the property as well as your own name, address and other contact information. It’s a good idea to state how you should be contacted, especially in case of an emergency.

Rent Payments and Security Deposits

Your lease must cover all the financial contracts between you and your tenant. List the amount of rent that needs to be paid every month, where it should be paid and how. Include any penalties for late payments and make sure your eviction policy is there as well, so the tenants know exactly what will happen if rent is not paid by the date it’s due. You’ll also want to note the amount of the security deposit that was paid, as well as information on where that money is being held.

Rules and Responsibilities

The lease will be the first thing you and your tenant refer to if there’s a question about something. It should list the responsibilities of the tenants as well as the landlord, such as who pays for the utilities, whether pets are allowed and how much notice the landlord has to give the tenant before entering the property to perform an inspection. If there are parking restrictions, make sure the lease communicates that. Include rules about noise, litter, guests and HOA practices if they are applicable.

Processes and Procedures

The lease should be as thorough and detailed as possible when it comes to processes and procedures. Explain what will happen during the move out process and what the tenant needs in order to get the security deposit back. The lease should also reference how repair requests should be made and when certain seasonal maintenance issues will be addressed. To ensure you get a solid and legally compliant lease in place, talk to a professional property manager or hire an attorney to draft one for you. If you have any questions, please contact us at ARMI Property Management.

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