When you choose to invest in a property, you bear the responsibility of knowing everything there is to know about housing laws on a local, state, and federal level. If you rent out your property, you’ll also need to be aware of what a lease entails and when you have the right to terminate a lease. Your lease or rental agreement should contain general core elements as well as specific regulations depending on the state you live in. In the state of Texas, Fort Worth rental management like Specialized Fort Worth property management can ensure that you are current on all rental agreement issues outlined below and that you don’t unknowingly discriminate against prospective tenants or create a reason for a small claims lawsuit. With over 25 years of experience, we can prepare and execute lease documents with precision and according to law while addressing all the rules and regulations that govern a rental agreement. With effective communication and mutual respect, landlords and tenants can make changes as needed and create an agreement that fits both of their circumstances and needs.
What is a Lease?
A lease or rental agreement is a binding contract between two people or parties which states the rights, obligations, and responsibilities of each while the lease is in effect as well as some of the consequences for not fulfilling them. Both landlords and prospective tenants should carefully look over all of the outlined terms and make sure they understand everything clearly before signing the document. If there is a disagreement between the landlord and tenant, city or state officials may step in to clarify and delegate parts of the lease agreement to the correct party.
The Need to Have it in Writing
The Texas Statute of Frauds declares that a rental agreement is only required to be in writing if the contract is intended for longer than a year. In some cases, it is true that an oral agreement is valid in court. However, Fort Worth rental management companies should have a written lease with tenants even if a lease agreement is for shorter than a year. A written lease is a good idea to protect both the landlord and the tenant, and to document rental expectations in order to avoid future misunderstandings.
What to Include in a Lease
Depending on the state you live in, the specific requirements for properties will change, but there are general requirements that Fort Worth rental management include as well. The lease will include the names of each party involved as well as the property’s description and location. Terms of the lease will be clearly stated, including the amount of rent, its due date, security deposit requirements, and pet rules. This legal contract will also outline the process for requesting maintenance and repairs. After both parties sign the lease, there are few situations that can legally void the agreement and they often call for legal involvement.
Leases in Texas
In addition to the general rental agreement standards stated above, the state of Texas can be different in the following ways:
- Disclosures: Fort Worth rental management must include a full disclosure in the agreements explaining who will make repairs and who is authorized to act on behalf of the landlord to make repairs when the landlord is unable to do so.
- Security Deposits: The state of Texas doesn’t control the amount landlords charge for their security deposits, but it does require that deposits be returned within 30 days to the tenant, separate from deductions for cleaning and repairs.
- Small Claims Lawsuits: If tenants want to sue Fort Worth rental management companies for the return of their deposit, they can do so for up to $10,000.
The Importance of Property Condition
When tenants or property owners don’t take care of a building and don’t perform their other responsibilities, both parties listed in the lease contract need to know their legal rights in regard to breaking their lease agreement. Property condition is a huge factor for both sides, as well as promptly taking care of maintenance issues. Rather than allowing your building to fall into disarray, it’s best to hire a professional Fort Worth rental management company who can take preventative measures to make sure that property condition is never a factor in breaking a lease agreement.
Disability Lease Requirements
As a property owner, you should be able to know who is protected under the law, especially when it comes to tenants who have a disability in order to avoid legal problems in Fort Worth. A person is considered disabled and therefore legally protected if:
- They have a written record of a disability
- They experience either a mental or physical disability that limits their ability to perform major life activities
- They are recognized by others as having a disability
Fair Housing Requirements
Being aware of the Fair Housing Act and those who are protected by it could save you from making unintentional discriminatory mistakes in conversation, lease agreements, and more as a property owner. People are protected from being denied housing because of race, color, sex, religion, children, or disability by the Fair Housing Act. This means that your application for housing should not ask questions about these specific subjects. Fort Worth rental management can help you create a non-discriminatory application for prospective tenants.
Reasonable Changes to Property
In special circumstances, especially in the case of a disability, tenants can ask for reasonable changes to the property to accommodate their specific needs. Reasonable changes are usually paid for by the tenant, and the property is required to be put back to its original condition when the tenant leaves. All reasonable changes and agreements must be stated in the lease and understood completely by both landlord and tenant.
Consider Pet Policies
One mistake to be sure to avoid is not allowing service animals in your rental. Even if you have a no-pet policy, service animals are required by law to be the exception and can cost you a large fine if you don’t allow them or if you charge an additional pet fee for them. Check with your Fort Worth rental management company for a list of the exceptions and regulations with this law so that you are protected legally.
According to the state of Texas, Fort Worth rental management companies and tenants are allowed to terminate a lease in 3 ways. A lease naturally terminates after the agreed lease time has ended, landlords can create a new lease agreement, or tenants can move out of the unit. As with everything else surrounding property renting and management, general rules and regulations have the tendency to become complex. Hiring a team of professionals like Specialized Fort Worth property management will prepare you for the unexpected and protect you from making costly mistakes.
Tenant and Landlord Agree to Terminate Lease
Sometimes leases need to be terminated before their natural ending because of unforeseen events. Texas law states that Fort Worth rental management companies must allow a tenant to terminate a lease early in the case of domestic violence involved an issued protective order and the need to leave for safety reasons. Another reason one might terminate their lease early is for active military duty. A property owner is required to respect a lease cancellation when a tenant gives 30 days notice for this reason. Examples of these early lease cancellation scenarios should be clearly dictated at the time of signing the lease agreement. Other circumstances may be cause for an early lease termination, but the key is to communicate with your tenant or landlord so there are no misunderstandings and everything is agreed upon in an amicable way.
Landlord or Tenant Break Terms of Agreement
In some cases, amicable lease cancellation just doesn’t happen. If an agreement was signed and then responsibilities not met by either or both parties, the lease document is considered void. Examples of this may be the property not being properly maintained as promised by the property owner or the tenant avoiding payment of rent. In either case, action can be taken to terminate the lease. The best way to handle this situation maturely is to:
- Have a good reason why the lease needs to be broken
- Keep accurate records
- Give as much notice as possible
- Be respectful to the other party
Fort Worth property owners can legally give a tenant who is not paying their rent an unconditional quit notice which gives them a limited number of days to move out. We recommend hiring Fort Worth rental management companies to handle an eviction situation because there are eviction policies that need to be carefully followed on both state and local levels. These policies should also be included in the rental agreement.
Fort Worth Rental Management
With all the details involved in a lease document, it’s crucial that property owners seek professional help from rental management companies. Specialized Property Management in Fort Worth, TX has over 30 years experience working with lease agreements and tenants. With our 98% customer satisfaction rating, you can rest assured that we care about what we do and are committed to keeping owners and tenants happy with their rental experience. Avoid mistakes and stay ahead of the property management game by putting our proven processes and expert team to work for you. Visit our website today and see the difference we can make with your lease options and tenant retention.