Rental Investment Owners are constantly asking questions about lease documents.  Next to support animals it is the most frequently questioned aspect of being a landlord.  Below is a list of questions that have been splattered across rental investment boards from landlords everywhere.

How much should I include in my lease beyond the normal terms?

There is no perfect length for a lease.  Some landlords believe that too long of leases leads to tenants who don’t actively read them and are therefore ill-informed of the rules.  Others use the strategy of putting everything in writing you plan on enforcing and creating long leases in the process. They prefer being able to stand up in court and say with certainty their lease covers the supposed violation in direct language. You need to pick the length that works for you.

I see some leases that are one document and others that are multiple addendum. Which is better?

This again comes down to a matter of preference.  Some landlords and property managers find leases that are just one document too cumbersome and difficult to follow.  Therefore they create these common addendum to cover additional items: rules and regulations, pet policy, repair and maintenance charges, parking rules, washer/dryer agreement, etc.  The down side to this strategy is that you use more paper and it also requires a lot more signatures and dates.

Note: In Wisconsin you need to include a Non-Standard Provisions as required by state law.

Can I get by purchasing bulk lease products from online vendors?

Can you get by? Yes. Is it smart? No. It’s not smart because your state may have additional clauses that are required in every lease. If you buy a premade lease packet it’s likely not tailored for any particular state regulations.  Some vendors are tailored for specific states, others advertise attorney approved leases for every state, and others are simply generic. Buy with caution and read the leases before you purchase. Make sure there aren’t clauses that aren’t illegal in your state.

Do I need to have my tenants sign every sheet? Do I need to sign everything?

Simple answer: Yes.   Long answer: Anything paper that has rules on it  that you plan on putting in front of a judge should be signed by everyone. Those renting and the landlord or property manager (broker).    

Do I need to have children on the lease?

It is your preference whether you list children on leases.  However don’t be surprised if a resident comes and requests a copy of a lease with their children’s’ names because it is sometimes required for school registration  Remember you can’t enter into a legally binding contract with a minor so be cautious with where you place their names. Most attorneys don’t recommend listing them under “tenants” and suggest using terminology like “additional occupants.