You’ve effectively marketed your home, screened applications, and approved a tenant for your Philadelphia rental property.
You’ll need a lease agreement. The lease is the most important document in your relationship with tenants. This is where you clearly and expressly lay out what their responsibilities are and what your expectations are for the lease term. It protects you, your property, and your residents.
Don’t write up a lease on your own if you don’t have any legal or property management experience. You don’t want to pull any template you find off the internet, either. The internet is great for recipes and DIY decorating tips; but when it comes to a binding legal document, you want some expertise and some authority.
At TCS Management, we have a lease agreement that’s legally enforceable and legally compliant. It follows all of Pennsylvania’s requirements, and if your property is in New Jersey or Delaware, we have state-specific lease agreements for those areas as well.
Here’s what we make sure to include in every lease agreement we execute.
Include Information for All Parties and Pets
The start of every lease agreement is pretty simple. The parties to the agreement must be identified. You’ll need to include the names of the landlord and the tenant. Provide the property address as well, with a description of what the property looks like. For example, you’ll state that it’s a single-family home with two stories or a condo unit in an association with private parking. If you’re renting out units in a building, include the name of the building.
List the names of all occupants, and include their contact information. While minors under the age of 18 will not be legally liable to the lease agreement or responsible for rental payments, you still want to list them as occupants. This tells you exactly who is residing in the property.
Don’t forget the animals! If you are allowing pets and your tenant is moving in with cats or dogs, describe the pets. It’s not a bad idea to include a photo of the pet. Every lease should also include a copy of your pet policy so the tenants have something in writing regarding responsibilities and expectations. You can incorporate it into the body of the lease or attach it as an addendum.
Reference Philadelphia Lease and Renewal Terms
Your lease agreement will state the important dates of the contract, specifically the date the lease begins and the date that it ends. Most leases are one-year in length, but yours could be 18 months or six months.
In addition to the length and term of the lease, you’ll want to reference the procedures that each party must follow when the lease is ending. Decide what you want to happen at the end of the lease. You might consider one of these potential scenarios:
- The tenant will have to notify the landlord within 30 or 60 days of their intention to move out.
- The landlord will have to offer a lease renewal 30 days in advance of the lease ending.
- The lease could convert to a month-to-month agreement at the end of the term
Whatever is decided, make sure the instructions are clear. You don’t want the lease to end without anyone making a move to renew it, move out, or convert to a month-to-month rental agreement.
Rent Collection Policy
The rent collection policy will be an easy reference for tenants who may have questions about when rent is due or how it’s meant to be paid. In your lease, stipulate:
- How much rent is due every month
- When it’s due and when it’s considered late (is there a grace period?).
- How rent should be paid
If you’re implementing late fees once the rent payment is late, your lease agreement must include that information as well as any other consequences to late or unpaid rent, including and leading up to eviction.
Security Deposit Information
Note the amount of security deposit that the tenants paid, and specify when it will be returned. Pennsylvania law is strict about how much of a deposit is collected, how interest is paid, and how quickly you return it to your tenants after they move out. Tenants are entitled to know where you’re holding the deposit, so include that information in the lease.
Additional Rules and Responsibilities
Beyond the required information, your lease should include everything you want the tenant to know about the expectations you have while they’re living in your property. Many landlords have non-smoking homes, which means tenants are not permitted to smoke anything inside the property. You might want to include limits to how long guests can stay in the property and the number of cars that can be parked in the driveway. Make sure you’re detailed and you cover everything because this is the first place you and your tenants will go if there’s ever a dispute.
When you’re renting out a property in an HOA, you’ll also need to provide the tenant with a complete copy of HOA rules and regulations. You should indicate in your list that the tenant will be responsible for any fines or penalties incurred as a result of their behavior.
There are a number of addenda that need to be included in a lease agreement, specifically information on lead based paint and mold.
Make sure your lease is clear and concise. Use a font that’s large enough for a reasonable person to read. Legally documents are infamous for having small print, and you don’t want to make it difficult for your tenants to read and understand the lease.
Philadelphia property management expertise is an invaluable asset when you have a home to rent out and a lease to execute. We’d be happy to share our expertise with you. Please contact us at TCS Management, and we’ll answer any questions you have.
TCS Management is a full service property management company headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, also serving Cherry Hill, NJ, Wilmington, Delaware, Nashville, Tennessee and the surrounding areas. We focus on single-family and multifamily residential property management of homes, condos, townhomes, and apartment buildings.