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Monday, February 15, 2010

10 Lease Musts for a Residential Landlord

1. Reasonable or fixed attorneys fees on breach inclusive of other costs
2. Bounced check fees of between $25 and $50 (exactly what your bank charges you)
3. Late payment penalty ranging from set fee or % of rent
4. Snow removal, landscaping, and other outdoor maintenance falls upon tenant
5. Appliances are "as is" following tenant's inspection
6. Pre-possession inspection with pictures and report based upon pre-printed checklist to avoid disputes
7. Don't ever do month to month - creates problems with eviction
8. Fuel oil - tank must be returned as found upon termination of lease (or reduction in security deposit)
9. Sublease / assignment must have prior written approval
10. Proposed tenants sign authorizations for credit checks

One extra - Get a big security deposit, spell out costs for damage in lease, & expressly state that return of security deposit is made following 2 weeks of landlord's inspection

Please tell us what our list is missing. With your suggestions it can be the 100 Lease Musts for a Residential Landlord


  1. Why do you say "Don't ever do month to month - creates problems with eviction"? I only do month to month and I've had two evictions with no problems.

  2. For starters, the definition of a month to month is that there is no lease. So all of the expectations that you, the landlord, have of your tenant are not clearly articulated in a writing for both to expect. Consequently, if the tenant violates your expectation you cannot say they violated the lease because you do not have one.

    In the stay of your otherwise available eviction for default under the terms of a lease (violating the lease), a month to month tenancy may be terminated by giving at least one month’s notice. While this notice does not need to specify why the landlord seeks possession of the premises, only that the landlord elects to terminate the tenancy and that refusal to vacate will lead to eviction proceedings (please note that unlike a lease, a month to month is automatically renewed forever without this notice), its still an unnecessary procedural step that can be avoided by a clear lease with clear rules.

    So basically, a month to month rental eliminates a great way to evict a tenant, by them not following the terms of the lease. Moreover, a month to month tenancy lacks the security and stability of a lease with likely greater turnover (or at least potentially) with greater transactional costs each time (cleaning & repairs, vacancy period, & finding a new tenant). This is just the start of my thoughts on this topic, but I would like to hear yours. I would add that I agree with you that evictions can proceed from a month to month without problem, but as a landlord I like as much control as possible, as little risk as possible, coupled with as little effort as possible. Why do you prefer month to month?


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