When your lease is silent or unclear

There are a lot of reasons landlords give tenants standard leases.

Sometimes it’s just faster and easier to use an existing or standard lease.

Standard leases help get a tenant in the space quickly, but they can also have drawbacks.

Even when a lease is customized to meet the needs of both landlord and tenant, unclear language or unforeseen circumstances can derail a smooth rental experience.

Before Signing a Lease

Many part-time landlords face these situations.

It is difficult to foresee in advance all the possible scenarios that may arise.

It is important to use a checklist of important issues relating to your property so you can make sure all those issues are addressed in the lease.

If you are using a standard lease, read through it to make sure that you understand what it is saying.

Don't use language if you don't understand what it means.  

Make sure you are familiar with your state's landlord-tenant laws.

There may be laws that are automatically added into every lease.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website contains links to current state laws.

For example, Florida's laws can be found at the following location: http://portal.hud.gov/hudportal/HUD?src=/states/florida/renting/tenantrights

After Signing a Lease

You may need to amend your lease if you discover issues that need to be addressed.

You may need to define words in the lease or assign responsibility for maintenance of the property.

 If the change requires your tenant to do something that is not already required by the lease, the tenant must sign off on the change.  

The document that the tenant signs will then become a part of the lease.

If you and your tenant do not agree on the meaning of the lease or if the lease is silent, it is best to try to find a solution that is satisfactory to both of you.

 For example, If the dispute relates to repairs, you and the tenant could agree to split the cost of repairs or you could agree to rely on a decision of a third party as to who caused the damage.

Reaching an agreement allows you to preserve your landlord-tenant relationship, keep your rental income and avoid the time and expense of court.

If you believe that a lawsuit is your only recourse, then consider how a court would interpret the lease.

How Leases are Interpreted

In order to address these types of issues, it is important to understand how leases are interpreted by courts.

Some of the techniques courts use to interpret leases include:

  • The four corners of the document - What does the paperwork actually say regarding the disputed provision? Courts look at the whole document for answers, not only in the section that contains the disputed provision. Any specific details take precedence over any general language.
  • The intent of the parties - When the document itself doesn't offer sufficient information, the court may be able to look outside the document for such information as the parties' previous actions and other written communications between the parties.

Equally important is the need to maintain a good relationship with your tenant.

Tenants should feel like they are partners in the process of maintaining the property. Their involvement and interest in their home help landlords save time and money.

 

Posted on Dec 01, 2014

Related

Most Important Landlord Tenant Laws in Texas

When it comes to having a tenant for the first time, it can be pretty daunting because you are going to be the corresponding landlord and a new relationship will emerge, which will need time to grow... More


The Landlord Tenant Board: What it is and When it is Needed

Many times, there are issues between a landlord and a tenant that need to be resolved but are failed to do so, because both parties have gone too far with their actions, and have retaliated in the... More


The Landlord Tenant Laws in California

The landlord and tenant laws in California are literally the same as they are in any other state. These laws, rules and regulations are put into practice because they uphold an order, a discipline,... More


Understanding the Landlord Tenant Laws in Illinois

People are aware that there are different rulings in each state with reference to the landlord/tenant laws. The state of Illinois also has a set of laws. These rules and regulations are basically... More


How to Create a Residential Lease Agreement

Where there is a landlord, there will also be a tenant, and it is no surprise that these two parties can only work together once there is some sort of agreement, contract or a binding deal in place.... More


The Best Sites for Rental and Lease Agreement Templates

Many landlords find it difficult to write and draft a lease agreement. Since every State has its own general template, it can also be difficult to make sure your lease agreement meets all the criteria... More


The Landlord Tenant Act: What Landlords Need to Know

All landlords know that before they can formally become a landlord there are a lot of things they need to understand. Landlords and tenants cannot act as such without any legal bodies involved. That... More


Landlord Obligations: The Responsibilities of a Landlord

Becoming a landlord is a major deal and no one can simply get up and think, “well, yes I think I should be a landlord and rent out my flat.” If you are thinking that you would like to be a landlord,... More


The Best Landlord Associations for Landlords to Join

If you’re a landlord and want to manage your business in a better way, you should endeavor to get in touch with those industry experts who have the experience and the skills to help you do it. This is... More


The Best Landlord Forums

Landlords and aspiring landlords, do not become as such, without guidance and advice. There is a lot that goes into being a landlord nowadays; in fact, there is so much to learn that it often confuses... More