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I am renting my home for a short, nonrenewable period. I have a standard lease agreement in hand which I'll use (one example here). It talks about the big issues: payments, security deposits, subletting, etc. But I've heard suggestions that I add an addendum to the lease.

What additional items should I ask for from my tenants? Some ideas I had were:

  • Requiring renter's insurance
  • Requiring regular replacement of air conditioning filters
  • Compliance with homeowner's association rules and regulations
  • Notifying me of any conflicts with neighbors

Are there other big ones that would be useful to include?

3 Answers 3

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A few things come to mind:

  • Tenant must clean out the place at lease termination, including garbage, etc. Cleaning costs will be billed to the tenant. The term used in New York City for this is "broom clean" ymmv.
  • Terminate the lease at a specific time. (ie. September 30th at 3PM)
  • Make lawn mowing, filter cleaning, etc a credit off the lease. If the tenant doesn't do it, they don't get the credit.
  • No waterbeds.
  • Rental is for living purposes only.
  • A severability clause that protects you in the event that a clause of the lease is thrown out in court.

You should talk to a local landlord association... there are all sorts of crazy rules about leases that vary from location to location.

In general, if you're in a lousy neighborhood, you need the 12 page lease spelling out all sorts of minutae. A family member inherited and rented a building in a "transitional" neighborhood in a big city and added a clause stating that human and pet waste must be disposed of via the toilet and not stored. He lost an eviction case with a tenant hoarding the stuff and ended up needing that clause.

In a good neighborhood with high rents, you're more likely to be renting to a more sane clientele, so a less specific agreement will do.

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If you have items like HVAC or a pool, make an item that requires regular maintenance like a yearly HVAC inspection or a bi-annual pool maintenance from an approved vendor.

If you don't want to seem like a jerk, offer to cover a substantial portion or all of the cost. The only requirement is that they get it done to protect your property. You are basically asking them to take a day off and be around the house.

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The last three make sense, but not the first. I assume that you'll continue to insure the house. If the house were to burn down, that would cover your loss. The tenant's renters insurance is to cover their possessions. Whether they have insurance or not shouldn't matter to you.

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  • What about pest lawsuits where the tenant, newly out of worldly possessions, assumes the fire was the fault of the landlord and uses the legal system to make themselves whole? Having their own policy might divert that?
    – MrChrister
    Jul 20, 2011 at 20:26
  • In many jurisdictions, courts are willing to listen to all sorts of nonsense from tenants -- anyone can sue anyone. At the end of the day, you'd only have to pay if you were negligent or actually set your house on fire. In that case, a lease clause would do nothing for you anyway. Jul 21, 2011 at 11:57
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    Also, I would keep the renter's insurance requirement for liability purposes. Renter's insurance includes general liability coverage, which may make you less of a target if the tenant fails to shovel the walk and the mailman slips and breaks his leg. Jul 21, 2011 at 12:13

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