The rental market in DC is always growing, make it a dynamic opportunity for landlords. However, DC is one of the most protective areas in the country when it comes to tenants. DC laws and regulations make it essential to have a proper lease when renting out your property.
Don’t just go pick up a generic form to use as your lease, because it won’t be enforceable and could even expose you to legal liability. Here are a few items you should include in your tenant lease in the nation’s capital!
The Names of the Tenants
It seems apparent that you would have the names of your tenants listed on the lease agreement. However, you also need to make it clear in your contract that other people are not permitted to live in the unit. Unless their names are specified on your agreement, your tenants should not have subtenants or have family or friends stay for an extended period of time.
Waiver of Notice to Quit
In DC, you can’t evict a tenant—even one that has violated the lease—without a 30-day notice. However, if your tenant isn’t paying rent, you can include a waiver in your lease stating that you can evict sooner. If your contract doesn’t include this waiver, you could have to wait as long as two months before you can proceed with the eviction process.
Always include any prohibited activities in your agreement, including criminal activity or drug activity, which could include the possession, manufacturing, storage, or distribution of an illegal drug.
Other prohibited activities could include loud music after a certain time, restrictions or bans on pets, smoking, and more. If your tenants ignore these items, particularly when it comes to drug or criminal activity, it’s your job to address the issue or else risk complaints from neighbors or even action from the government.
Details on the Security Deposit
You need to be aware of DC’s limits on the security deposit for tenants, as this information will need to be accurately reflected in your lease. For example, the maximum amount you can require for a security deposit is one month’s rent.
In addition, as a landlord, you have 45 days to return the tenant’s security deposit after they move out. Should you need to use part of their security deposit for any repairs, you must present them with an itemized list of deductions.
It’s always imperative to detail who will be handling maintenance issues at the unit and how and when such maintenance will be done. It’s also a good idea to include a clause requiring that tenants report any known maintenance issues to you immediately. By doing so, you can help protect your property from maintenance emergencies!
Rent Control Exemption
If you’re planning on increasing the rent at any point during your tenant’s lease, you need to have a clause exempting the property from rent control in the contract. If you do not, increasing the rent is considered illegal and is disputable by the tenant in court.
Never Cut Corners on Your Lease!
These are just a few of the items you should include in your tenant lease. There are many more items that can protect you as a landlord and make tenants aware of their obligations.
All your hard work to attain the proper licensure and get your unit ready to rent won’t pay off without having a legally-enforceable agreement. A lease doesn’t just dictate a time period your tenant can stay—it outlines the terms of your relationship, and as such, is necessary for renting out your unit.
Need help drafting a lease for your DC rental unit? Our team at FAS Management can help you create an airtight lease to protect your investment property and keep both you and your tenants happy. Contact us today at (202) 337-5080!