Don’t you ever just wish there was one lease that accommodated all rentals everywhere? Same.
Of course, most leases do share the essentials: Start/end dates, rent amount, when it’s due, late payment rules, and signatures. But landlord-tenant laws vary from state-to-state, so it’s important to know your respective state lease laws to save yourself a whole lot of money down the line.
If you’re just starting to familiarize yourself with state rental laws, the internet can offer a wide variety of resources. However, it’s important to be aware that for as much research as you can do on the internet, it’s still…the internet.
And anybody could say anything and claim it’s true. For example, I could tell you that I am writing this blog post from the Caymen Islands and you could believe me.
And then we would both be delusional.
But that’s not to say you can’t get started learning more about state lease laws right now from the Caymen Islands—or, you know, your couch. Which is almost the same thing.
What should I avoid when researching leases on the internet?
Look, sometimes in life, the best things are free. A beautiful sunset, making someone smile, free samples at the store (remember when!), etc., etc.
But, generic lease templates on the internet are not one of them.
Generic lease forms are just that—generic. It’s likely they don’t accommodate each and every state law. And while it may be free now, you’ll pay for it later on if you get yourself into an eviction situation.
What are state-specific leases?
State-specific leases are exactly what they sound like: leases and rental agreements that address and accommodate all the respective responsibilities of landlords and tenants for that individual state. And, the consequences for both parties of breaking that rental agreement.
Not every state’s rental laws are the same, which is why it’s important to have a thorough understanding of how your state requires you to structure leases. If you’re ever going to purchase a lease from the internet, it should be a state-specific lease (and still run by a lawyer).
For example, landlord-tenant laws in states like Florida, landlords are required to provide 30 days written notice via certified mail about how much of the security deposit will be kept and why. If you were to not send the notice via certified mail within the 30-day period, you would forfeit your right to claim the deposit.
Where can I learn more about state lease laws?
If you’re just getting started (or want a refresher) there are several ways you can begin educating yourself on state-specific lease laws, thanks to the internet.
Start by looking for your state laws on leases and rental agreements. You should also research and read the Fair Housing Act to ensure you’re in compliance with federal housing regulations.
You can also use sites like BiggerPockets and MeetUp to network with landlords and real estate professionals in your area who can provide you with knowledge and insight into your state’s landlord-tenant laws and lease requirements.
Should I have a lawyer review my lease?
Oh, reader, I thought you’d never hypothetically ask. Yes! Yes! One thousand times, yes!
We recommend ALWAYS having a lawyer-reviewed lease. If your primary concern is the cost, and you’re analyzing your operating costs looking for ways to save money THE LEASE IS NOT ONE OF THEM. There are plenty of other ways to streamline rental business operations to save a few bucks:
- Retaining tenants with a mobile renting app that lets them easily pay rent and submit repairs to you
- Filling units quickly using free listing sites and free marketing pages to cross-post your listing and share across your network
- Keeping your property regularly maintained with inspections so you’re not caught off-guard with large maintenance costs after a tenant moves out
- Streamlining operation costs with flat-priced property management software so you can manage your operations and grow your business without paying more
A lease should always be reviewed by a lawyer familiar with state lease laws specific to where your rental property is located. Your lease shields you from financial and legal disputes if you find yourself in court or trying to evict a tenant. Any landlord who has dealt with an eviction will tell you: the cost of a legally binding lease is worth every penny when compared to the cost of an eviction.
Note: This content is not intended to substitute, replace, or be construed as professional legal advice. It is for referential purposes only and not meant to replace the advice of your legal counsel, legal representation, and or lawyer. You are responsible for ensuring your lease is compliant with your respective situation. Please consult your professional legal representation or lawyer to be sure your lease is compliant with any state and/or federal laws.