I like to think of myself as a responsible adult and a contributing member of society. But as is the case in almost every other aspect of life, we all have to start somewhere, and 20 years (or so) ago I may not have been the most responsible member of society. I mean, come on, I was in my twenties for god’s sake and the idea of being an adult was not exactly what I thought it was.
Which brings me to today’s post. I have broken / been in violation of many leases back in the day, and I can bet that most of you all have too...you just may not have realized it at the time.
Let me explain:
For my first apartment, I did not not have any credit, or money and I certainly didn’t have any rental history. Try getting an apartment with that on your application.
So I did what I needed to do to find a place to live. I moved into a friend’s apartment (violation #1). What’s the harm, she needed a roommate, and I needed a room.
What I didn’t know is that all residents of a rental needs to 1) be put on the lease, and 2) need to be approved by the landlord. Oops...sorry.
Also, we were both smokers, and we smoked in the apartment. (violation #2) Who knew we couldn’t smoke in there? It’s not like we ever actually read the lease, specifically the part about “no smoking in the premises”.
Then there was the lease, where I was ready to move to another area, but my lease wasn’t up for another few months, so I rented it out to another friend. (Huge violation) I mean, the landlord is still getting their rent. No harm, no foul...right? Again, it’s not like I read the part of the lease that states “no sublets”.
I could go on, but I think you get the point.
Now fast forward 20 years and the shoe is on the other foot. I am now the landlord, and I have tenants that are / have been / will be in violation of their leases. I get it...I did it, but now I understand the reasons behind all of those silly rules.
Here is what I have learned from being on both sides of the fence:
First and foremost, know your Landlord - Tenant laws. The Landlord - Tenant Act covers everything from security deposits to waterbeds.
Every state has them, and whether you are a landlord or a tenant, you should know them, or at least have easy access to them. In fact, I’ll make it super easy for you right now. Click here.
Also, I have learned that my lease is a living document, that I can add to and change as I encounter new issues. For example, I had a tenant that put an above ground pool in the back yard. To be fair, they did ask me first, but I was caught a little off guard and answered a bit too quickly. (My fault, not theirs). You can bet that I now have a section about pools in my lease.
The easiest thing that everyone can do, though is read the lease. Tenants need understand what’s in it, and Landlords need to point out what’s in it. I now always send the lease via email at least a day before the keys are handed over so that the tenant has time to read over what they are signing, and I then will go over it when I hand them the keys.
The more informed everyone is, the better. I didn’t mean to violate my past leases, but there I was, breaking the rules I didn’t even know existed. Grown up me is a little wiser, and hopefully you all are too.
By the way...did I forget to mention, that not only am I a landlord, but I am also a Realtor. So if you are in the market for a new home, or a rental property...Call Me Anytime! 386-315-4162 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org