As a Massachusetts landlord, you want to take specific steps to avoid legal issues and disputes with your tenants. Avoiding the cost and complications that accompany these types of problems starts by having carefully crafted and easy-to-understand lease agreements. Strong contracts allow both parties to understand their rights and responsibilities while making it less likely that an issue will arise.
Residential lease agreements should be clear, thorough and suitable for all parties involved. If your contract is confusing, contradictory or ambiguous, it could expose you to issues with your tenants, including the possibility for a lawsuit. The lease agreements you present to your tenants can be thoughtfully composed according to your specific objectives and factors that are unique to the property.
What should be in the lease?
Residential lease agreements can be unique to the specific property the tenant will occupy. As the property owner, you have the right to compose agreements that are suitable to you while still being reasonable and appropriate. Some of the specific things you may consider including in your lease agreements include:
- Specification of which party is responsible for outside maintenance and upkeep
- Rent amount, when it is due each month and how the tenant should submit payment
- Clear specification of which party is responsible for repairs and regular upkeep costs
- Terms that outline possibility of subleasing the property or early termination of the lease
- How to contact the landlord to request repairs or report a problem with the property
Landlords also may find it beneficial to include terms in their lease agreements that outline grounds for eviction. While you do own the property, you must respect the rights of tenants, and this includes avoiding unfair eviction or housing discrimination. Establishing a good relationship with tenants from the very beginning with a fair and reasonable lease agreement is a prudent way to protect your interests.
Know your rights
It is important to know and understand your rights as a landlord. Managing and owning rental property can be a complex legal undertaking, and a complete understanding of what you need to do to shield your financial well-being and avoid legal complications is crucial. You can take the first step in this process by carefully evaluating your existing lease agreements or creating a contract that will withstand potential scrutiny and provide clarity for all parties.