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  • Erin Lokhandwala

Landlords - Protect Yourselves from Liability! Include These Key Provisions in Your Lease Agreement

Updated: Mar 14



Landlord Reviewing Lease Agreement for Liability Protection
Landlord Reviewing Lease Agreement for Liability Protection

A well-crafted lease agreement can shield landlords and their assets from legal action and set clear expectations for the landlord-tenant relationship. Landlords, consider including these key provisions in your lease agreement to protect you from liability:


1. Renters Insurance

Renters insurance covers the cost to repair or replace the tenant's belongings, such as clothing, furniture and electronics, after a natural disaster or other unexpected incident. Many renters insurance policies also cover a tenant's hotel bills if a rental property is left uninhabitable, repairs if a tenant accidentally damages someone else's property, and medical bills if a tenant is found responsible for injuries that occur at the rental property. Our lease provides that, before the move-in date, tenants must show proof of renters insurance totaling at least $300,000 per occurrence. We also require tenants to list the property owner as an "interested party” so that we receive notice of any policy changes or cancellations.


2. Routine Maintenance

Clearly outline the tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep of the property. This can include regular cleaning, yard maintenance, and minor repairs. Specify how maintenance requests should be submitted and addressed. For minor maintenance requests, we prefer tenants to notify us by email so that we can track the communication. For urgent maintenance issues, such as a burst pipe or a fire, we provide a service telephone number available and have someone available 24/7 to answer.


3. Periodic Inspections

Include a clause allowing the landlord or property manager to conduct periodic inspections of the property with proper notice. Our lease provides for scheduled interior/exterior inspections every six months. Routine inspections allow owners to identify and address any issues early on, preventing major problems later. Promptly fixing any minor concerns that arise during an inspection will also help to build your rapport with tenants.


4. Winterization

Shield your property from cold weather damage by including a clause outlining the tenants' responsibilities for winterization. This can include requirements for shutting off exterior water valves, insulating pipes, maintaining heating systems, and clearing snow and ice from walkways.


5. Water Damage

Detail tenant requirements for preventing water damage, such as not leaving faucets running, turning off exterior faucets in winter, reporting leaks promptly, and using proper ventilation in high-humidity areas like bathrooms and kitchens.


6. Fire Safety

Your lease should clarify that tenants are responsible for checking the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors periodically and replacing batteries as necessary, and a provision should direct the tenant to report any malfulctions to the landlord or property manager promptly and in writing. In addition, our lease expressly prohibits tenants from: using charcoal or gas barbecue grills inside the premises; using or storing kerosene or space heaters in or around the premises; using a stove, oven or range as a heat source; and burning candles inside the premises. Our lease also reminds tenants to use the above-range ventilating fan at all times when cooking. These fire safety provisions will help you and your tenants avoid injury and property damage. For good measure, we ensure that our rental smoke and carbon monoxide detectors comply with all state and local laws and provide new fire extinguishers at every tenant turnover or as recommended.


7. Lead Paint Notices

If your rental property was built before 1978, you may be subject to your state's lead paint regulations. Lead from paint, paint chips, and dust can pose health hazards, particularly to young children and pregnant women. As part of your investment property purchase or during rental license inspection process, you will likely undergo a Lead Paint Inspection. Before entering into a lease, landlords or property managers should research and follow the state's lead registration requirements and provide tenants with necessary information, including: the EPA’s Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home brochure and the Maryland Notice of Tenant(s)’ Rights, Lead Poisoning Prevention brochure. Your lease should include a notice of the property's lead registration/certification status and should clarify that, while the landlord is responsible for compliance with federal and state laws governing lead-based paint, the tenants agree to read and become familiar with federal and state requirements.


8. Guests

Establish rules regarding guests, including how long guests can stay, how many guests are allowed, and any additional fees or restrictions. Our lease agreement requires tenants to notify the landlord or property manager in writing about any guests staying longer than two weeks. This helps prevent unauthorized occupants and excessive wear and tear on the property.


Following Through & Final Steps

By including these forward-looking provisions in your lease agreement, you can protect your property and reduce landlord-tenant conflicts. We recommend reviewing your lease agreement with a legal professional to ensure compliance with Maryland landlord-tenant laws. At lease signing, discuss the above key points with tenants. At move-in, show tenants where key safety items are located, such as the main water shutoff valve, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors. Make sure all parties are aware of their responsibilities in protecting the rental home, and send reminders at important times during the lease term – such as a change of seasons.


With our “One-Stop Shop” active real estate investing model, you can rely on our attorney-vetted lease agreement and let us handle all aspects of tenant placement. Contact us for details.


DISCLAIMER:

This post is meant for educational purposes only. The information provided via LokhandwalaRealEstate.com is not intended as individualized legal, accounting, tax planning, or investment advice. Lokhandwala Enterprises USA, LLC and its affiliates disclaim any liability, loss, or risk incurred as a direct or indirect consequence of using any information contained in this blog. Please contact us for a private consultation and/or consult your own network of licensed professionals before taking specific actions.



 

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