When you accept an applicant as a tenant you will both sign a lease. This is a legally binding agreement that puts into writing that you have both agreed to the terms. While you can often find a standardized lease for your state, experience will teach you many things as you continue on in the rental business and you may want to add certain things to that lease to handle situations before they actually come about. This will help you protect both your property and yourself if anything goes wrong.
You cannot override a local or federal law in a lease, but you can add to them. In other words, you can add a 'no pet' clause into the lease, but this cannot override the federal laws prohibiting the discrimination against applicants with disabilities. You cannot deny a tenant that uses a service animal simply because the animal would need to come with them, but you can tell a tenant who simply has a pet that the animal will not be allowed in the property.
You'll want to detail out responsibilities on both sides for both the landlord and tenants. While there are many places in a lease that you might want to edit or add to, don't overlook the necessity to prepare for the worst. If a tenant vacates or wishes to vacate before the end of their lease, they should know exactly what that entails. Make sure to check your local laws to see if there are any minimum or maximum numbers of days that one party must give notice to the other and do not try to override the law or it likely will not hold up in court.
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