If You Won’t Enforce It, Then Don’t Include it in Your Single Family Rental Lease.

People new to investing in single family rentals understandably want to protect their property. As a result, they tend to craft a lease that has a long list of rules covering everything from restrictions on pet ownership and property modifications to how many vehicles may be kept there. 

Many of these stipulations are crucial and must be adhered to. Others, however, are unnecessary or too specific and therefore unlikely to be enforced. For example, “Tenant will bring waste bin to the curb by 7 p.m. Tuesday for Wednesday morning pickup.” 

Will you or your property manager really drive by the property every Tuesday evening to check on compliance? The answer for most owners is, “No.” And since there is another rule in your lease about not allowing trash to accumulate on the property, you already have this covered. That being the case, you should not include the “waste bin” rule in your lease.

Focus on Necessary Lease Provisions

Many single family real estate investors figure there is no harm in having a few extraneous provisions in their lease. But, including rules you won’t enforce can have negative consequences including:

  • Unnecessarily increasing the length of the lease. Nobody wants to have to read a long legal document. Your renters will appreciate you keeping the legalese to a minimum.
  • Long leases increase the risk of miscommunication.The more verbiage you have in your lease, the more likely it is that a renter will gloss over an important provision, which can lead to conflict down the road.
  • Unneeded rules dilute the important ones.If you fail to enforce certain provisions, renters may begin to believe you won’t enforce others. For example, if they discover that you are very “flexible” on the waste bin rule, they may believe you won’t mind if they violate the “no painting” rule and do some interior decorating that will be a point of contention.
  • Tell it to the judge.If you have to take a tenant to court, and they can show a sympathetic judge a long list of rules and provisions you never enforced, you could end up on the losing side of the case, even if you have a legitimate claim.

Overall, writing a clear, concise lease that includes only the provisions you intend to enforce helps prevent misunderstanding and ensure that the rules you really need in place to protect your property are followed.