Good Rental Agreement is Important

by : Kevin Kiene

If you've been in the property management business for more than a few years, you've probably been hit with every landlord's worst nightmare: the bad tenant. No matter how rigorously you screen applicants and check references, one is bound to squeak through sooner or later. Even the most experienced, well-prepared landlords are likely to be faced with this kind of nightmare at some time during their property management career.

There are as many circumstances that can cause a landlord-tenant relationship to sour as there are tenants. A lost job, a divorce, problems with the rental property, disputes with neighbors -- any of these situations tend to bring out the worst in tenants. The point is, you can never be sure exactly how that well-spoken tenant with impeccable references will be acting six months or a year down the road.

It's impossible to predict exactly how each rental relationship will turn out. But smart landlords know that a good lease is the best protection against a bad tenant. You've poured a lot of time, money, care, and attention into readying and maintaining your rental property. An up-to-date, legal, comprehensive lease is like a layer of insurance that guards against potential problems and legal challenges.

Over the last several decades, more courts in the United States have begun to side with tenants in legal disputes. Legal experts have noted that this trend toward "renter-friendly" court decisions is especially pronounced in cases in which a verbal, informal, or incomplete lease agreement has been used.

On the other hand, if you make sure that the lease agreement you're using is airtight, comprehensive, and fully in compliance with all applicable regulations in your jurisdiction, you stand a much greater chance of receiving a favorable judgment in court.

If you use a comprehensive lease agreement that details all of your expectations, rules, and policies from the get-go, there's little chance that the proverbial "bad tenant" will be victorious in a claim against you. In fact, as long as your policies and practices have consistently matched guidelines that are clearly set forth in the lease, it's very likely that the outcome will be in your favor.

Likewise, an airtight lease agreement will expedite the eviction process if the situation with your "bad tenant" has deteriorated to that level. If you can prove that the tenant was informed of and agreed to the terms of the agreement, the delays involved in an eviction will be significantly diminished.

Don't just throw away all of the time, money, and effort you've poured into your property management venture. Don't trust your rental property to a generic, vague, and possibly illegal lease. Instead, help protect your investment with a comprehensive, professionally-prepared lease agreement package that will limit your liability and legal vulnerability.