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Many landlords in San Diego wonder what should be included in a residential lease document. There are many elements that must be included, and you want to make sure you have everything in writing.

Start with the term of the lease. State whether it is a month to month agreement or a longer term. Your lease should have a beginning and ending date. Make sure all occupants over the age of 18 sign the lease agreement. They should sign jointly and severally, meaning if one tenant cannot pay the full amount, you have the right to collect that from the other tenant or tenants. This is an especially important provision in a lease when you are renting to roommates who will all be contributing to the rent.

List where to pay the rent and instructions on how to pay. You must include an address and a telephone number. Include any pet requirements as well. Name the pets and include the breed and weight. It helps to be specific about what is required at the termination of the tenancy. If you will require that the property be treated for fleas when the tenant leaves, put that in the lease. Your lease should always include a provision that a tenant’s pet cannot be a nuisance or disturb the peace and enjoyment of neighbors. This is particularly important with dogs. There is nothing more annoying to neighbors than a continually barking dog.

Include any landscape requirements. Spell out who maintains the landscaping and what will happen if flowers or bushes die during the tenancy. Most leases refer to adequate irrigation. Mention the utilities as well and stipulate who will pay for what. Be specific. If your property is in a community association, make sure to include a provision that the tenant acknowledges receiving a copy of the Rules and Regulations and agrees to follow them. You have to clearly state that any violations by the tenant which results in a fine by the HOA will be the tenant’s responsibility.

In California, standard disclosures in your lease will include Megan’s Law, a mold addendum, lead based paint and satellite dishes. Consider adding addendums if your property has a swimming pool or is on a golf course.

If there are non-built in appliances such as a washer and a dryer or a refrigerator, establish who maintains them. Some owners have their lease state that the washer/dryer and the refrigerator are the property of the owner, left for the use and convenience of tenants but the owner does not intend to repair or replace them. Without this clause, it could be implied that everything in the home is included in the rent when a tenant takes occupancy and will be maintained.

Explain what will happen if the tenant breaks the lease. It should be clearly addressed what the tenant’s responsibilities are in the event of early lease termination. Mention any fees they are responsible for paying such as rental commissions to secure a new tenant.

The bottom line is that everything must be in writing to eliminate any confusion. All tenancies start off with everyone happy, getting along and being in agreement. A well written lease will give you peace of mind when a challenge or difficult situation comes up. The lease will cover it. As a rental property owner, you may want to consider consulting with a professional property manager who specializes in residential leases. This will ensure you are protected.

If you have any questions on leases, please contact us at Walters Home Management.