Residential House Lease Agreement/More Info


Residential House Lease Agreement
Additional Information
 
Leasing real property presents some unique risks to the property owner, such as claims by the tenant or the tenant's guests for personal injuries while on the property and claims by tenants for loss of personal property because of a fire, theft or acts of God.  It is important to remember that a lease will not protect a property owner in all cases.  Business Attorney recommends consulting with your insurance agent to make sure that you are adequately insured against these risks.  It is most likely that your personal homeowner's policy does not provide enough protection and that one or more separate policies are appropriate. 

The property owner considering a residential house lease should also understand the local landlord-tenant laws.  Nearly every state now has statutes that mostly serve to protect tenants from unscrupulous landlords.  Those laws often provide minimum standards for habitability, minimum notice before eviction of the tenant, and a joint inspection and inventory of the property at the beginning of the lease.  The Business Attorney Residential House Lease Agreement includes a joint inventory form for the landlord and tenant to complete as part of the lease.  Even if your state does not require a joint inspection, Business Attorney recommends that you use it.  A joint inventory can provide valuable evidence for the landlord who desires to hold some or all of a security deposit at the end of the lease. 

Property owners should also familiarize themselves with the law on handling of security deposits.  Some states put limits on how much security deposit can be collected, usually stated as a multiple of the regular monthly rent.  Also, your state may require that the security deposit be held in an interest bearing account and that the interest be paid over to the tenant at the end of the lease. 

Another very common requirement under local ordinances is for the rental property to have one or more smoke alarms.  Even if not required by law, smoke alarms make good sense from a safety standpoint, and may entitle the landlord to a discount on insurance premiums. 

Many cities have landlord-tenant associations that can help educate you as to the requirements of local law.  As always, consult your attorney for advice on particular parts of the landlord-tenant laws that you should consider. 

Many houses built before 1978 were painted with a lead based paint. Ingesting lead can cause lead poisoning.  The risks of lead poisoning are particularly serious for babies and infants.  Often, small children will eat the lead chips from peeling walls, or inhale dust particles containing lead created when remodeling work is done. 

To help reduce this health risk, Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992.  This law is jointly administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  Pursuant to that law, EPA and HUD have written proposed regulations requiring that anyone selling or leasing a residential property built before 1978 make written disclosure about the risks of lead paint before a sale is completed or a lease of the property is signed.   

In addition to the disclosure in the form required by the regulations, the seller or landlord must provide, and certify that the buyer or tenant has been provided, a copy of the EPA pamphlet, Lead Paint: Protect Your Family.  You may get the latest copy of this pamphlet by calling the Lead Information Center (number below).  These offices should also have a copy of the lead paint disclosure form that must be included with houses built before 1978.  The pamphlet may also be retrieved electronically over the internet from the EPA's website at : http://www.epa.gov/