From a legal perspective, your lease agreement is your greatest mode of protection as a landlord. It’s what keeps you out of trouble, safeguards your property from abuse, and helps you take action when you’re being treated unfairly by tenants. But a lease is only as good as the language it contains. If you’re just copying a standard lease agreement from the internet, you probably aren’t getting the protection you need.
Furthermore, it’s quite common for issues to arise after signing a lease – and sometimes these issues aren’t explicitly addressed in the original language of the lease. In these instances, lease addendums are a landlord’s best friend.
What is a Lease Addendum?
The primary purpose of a lease addendum is to add specific conditions and rules to an active lease agreement without the need to renegotiate the original contract. Essentially, it’s a paragraph or line item that’s added to the existing agreement and dated and signed by all parties affected.
“A lease addendum has the ability to provide the both parties with negotiated changes and documentation. In this way, it can eliminate the verbal agreements, misunderstanding concerns and lease,” LandlordStation explains. “It is very important that you know some of the valuable benefits of lease addendum to make sure that you will come up with a desirable result. However, a lease addendum is just valid for a duration that is associated with original contract lease addendum.”
For landlords, protection and convenience are the primary benefits of a lease addendum. A properly executed addendum allows you to address an issue that you forgot to include (or has arisen since the inception of the lease agreement) and avoid problems down the road.
6 Addendums to Include in Your Lease
The good thing about addendums is that they can be added at any time – so long as both parties are in agreement. However, it’s best to go ahead and add on as many addendums as you want to be included at a single time. Here are a few of the top ones to consider:
Subleasing used to be something that was fairly rare. As such, there wasn’t a huge need for including specific language about it in a lease agreement. But with the rise of house sharing services like Airbnb, it’s become a lot more common. If you don’t have a subleasing clause in your original agreement, it’s probably smart to include an addendum.
If you don’t want to sublease at all, go ahead and close that door. But if you’re okay with the idea, it’s fiscally smart to charge your tenant for the right. A one-time fee of $100 to $300 is pretty reasonable and will make them think twice before subleasing to just anyone.
- Pet Policy
Forget to address the issue of pets in the original lease? Fix this oversight as soon as possible. Pets are messy, tear up the property, and can lower the property value over time. Insert an addendum that either disallows pets or creates very specific language around which pets are allowed, how damage will be handled, and what fees are required. (It’s recommended that you demand a security deposit – possibly a month’s rent – in order for a tenant to keep a pet in the home.)
- No Smoking
Nothing hurts your rental property more than a tenant who smokes. No matter how hard you try to remove the smell of smoke, the house is going to reek of it for years to come. It’ll turn away good tenants and encourage others to smoke anyway. It’s perfectly legal to go back and add a no smoking addendum.
- Direct Deposit
Rent collection can be a pain in the rear – both for you and your tenants. Having to pick up or drop off checks by the first of every month is no fun. It also allows for excuses and frequently results in late payments. The best way to solve this problem is by requiring direct deposit. Any good tenant will be fine setting up such an agreement. If the tenant is hesitant, it’s very likely that they’re also the sort of tenant who will become troublesome in the future.
There’s a great debate –and has been for years – over who is responsible for the lawn care of a rental property. Tenants like to point the finger at landlords, while landlords claim tenants are required to do things like cut the grass and rake leaves. Many otherwise positive relationships have turned sour over landscaping and lawn care.
Here’s the deal. If you want to avoid these issues and require your tenant to mow the lawn, rake the leaves, prune bushes, etc., get it in writing in the form of an addendum. It’ll save you a lot of bickering and will clearly put the onus on the tenant.
- Occupancy Limitations
Most standard lease agreements address issues related to occupancy, but it’s important to go back and insert an addendum if you realize that your lease doesn’t contain this language.
An occupancy limitation addendum simply puts a cap on the number of people who are allowed to live in the home. It also restricts occupants to those on the lease and their minor children or dependents only. You might not think this is a big deal, but it frequently comes into play.
Green Residential Professional Property Management
As a landlord, you’re exposed to a lot of risk. The more you’re able to create protection and boundaries, the better off you’ll be. While lease addendums are one form of protection, they aren’t the only option. It’s best to surround yourself with as many partners as possible – including a property manager.
At Green Residential, we’re widely recognized as the premier property management group in the Greater Houston area. Whether you’re looking for someone to oversee a single property or an entire portfolio of rentals, we can help you achieve your goals. Contact us today for more information!