Residential leases FAQs
Residential Leases are suitable for properties that are legal to rent as housing, such as houses, apartments, mobile homes, condos, townhomes, duplexes, basement apartments, or a single room in a home or cabin. To be considered legal housing in most areas, the property must be safe, structurally sound, have safe wiring, meet HUD lead-based paint requirements, have adequate ventilated sleeping areas, have functional bathrooms, and more. If you are not sure that your property is legal to rent in your area, contact the local housing authority to learn more about what is considered habitable.
If you are renting property in an area where it is difficult to find renters, you may benefit from considering tenants with less-than-perfect credit histories. If your rental is in a high-demand area, you can afford to be choosier. While it may not be wise to rent to someone with bad credit and a past eviction, you may want to consider an applicant with marginal credit. Details that may be okay to overlook include: No credit history with a good income; long-term debts, such as student loans or medical bills, if they are in good standing; a new job, if the rest of their job history is consistent; or a person who has a good rental history but can't pay the whole deposit at once.
Yes, you may limit how many people can live in a unit as long as it is not considered discriminatory towards families. In most areas, the guideline is two people per bedroom. Some housing agencies recommend a certain number of square feet per person rather than by bedroom. Some housing codes also define what may be considered a bedroom. Ask a lawyer or contact your local code enforcement agency to see what the rules are for your area.
Fair Housing Laws may require you to allow service animals. Service animals are not considered "pets" so they are not restricted by standard pet policies. You can ask for proof that the animal is "prescribed" by a medical professional or by a mental health care provider for emotional support animals. You cannot, of course, ask about the tenant's disability or diagnosis specifically. You also cannot charge extra pet rent or a pet deposit like you might for a pet. You may not have to provide accommodations if you have few rental units, are renting a single home without a broker, or are renting a hotel room. You'll want to make sure you comply with the laws. Contact a lawyer or your local fair housing office if you have questions.
The first thing to do is to find out exactly what the marijuana laws are in your state. Similar to prohibiting cigarette smoking and vaping, you can also restrict tenants from smoking marijuana by including those restrictions in the original lease. If you do allow smoking, you may want to include information in the lease about designated smoking areas, so that the smoke doesn't bother other tenants. Before you make any decisions, you may also want to contact your insurance company to see what types of smoking-related damage they might cover.