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Illegal Provisions In a Rental Agreement

When it comes to writing a rental agreement, it is important to ensure that you are not only following the guidelines of the city/state your property is located within, but it is also important to refrain from establishing provisions and rules that may be against a tenants rights, which could easily land you in hot water, or losing out on rental income! This page will highlight important provisions that should be in a lease agreement, but also some provisions that may be skirting the line.

What Provisions are Considered Illegal?
Before covering the provisions that should be clearly stated on your rental agreement we will first cover a list of popular items that might seem like a good idea in theory but are actually clauses that should be avoided at all costs.

Requiring a Tenant to be responsible for repairs

As a landlord, you cannot require a tenant to be responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the property. This includes repairs to essential equipment such as heating, cooling, gas, appliances, electricity, and anything that will directly affect a tenant’s habitability. There are certain circumstances where a tenant may be responsible for a repair, but this normally involves the tenant being the cause for repair.

Making Security Deposits Non-refundable

This one seems like a given, as a security deposit is normally just that, upfront payment with the promise of reimbursement pending any extensive damages. A security deposit is put in place to help ensure that the landlord will have funds to repair any damages caused by the last tenant. While dollar amounts and limits vary from state to state, there is no state where non-refundable deposits are considered legal.

Tenant Discrimination and Privileges

If you own multiple units in a building your best bet to avoid any issues in the future, is to create a consistent rental agreement for all units. Creating rental agreements on the fly is time-consuming and increases the odds of incidentally leaving out an important element of your agreement. This can include anything from ensuring all tenants have a parking space, exercise accessibility, and more. In short, if all tenants have the same rental agreement, you do not have to worry about a discrimination suit.


What Provisions should be included in your rental agreement?

This is a brief list of important provisions to include in a rental agreement to better protect yourself, your property, and any tenant choosing to live in your rental space. If you are currently revising a rental agreement, be sure that it includes these essential guidelines.

  • Clearly state names of all tenants

    • This helps to hold all tenants accountable for rent/repairs for a variety of reasons

  • Occupancy Limits

    • This provides a clear guideline of how many individuals are permitted on the property, this is helpful for “unannounced guests”

  • Clearly States Tenant Term

    • If there is a clear start/stop date listed on the rental agreement, this can simplify any last month hassles

  • Rent

    • Clearly state rent on the agreement

  • Deposits & Fees

    • All deposit amounts and fees should be clearly stated on the rental agreement – this can include how the deposit my be returned and any additional information that is relevant for the tenant

  • Repairs & Maintenance

    • Clearly outline the clauses for how/when a tenant may be responsible for repairs. If it is clearly stated in the rental agreement it will be harder to contest

  • Pet Guidelines

    • If your property allows pets, clearly outline the rules/ stipulations that a tenant must follow to reduce potential fines/eviction


Landlord Consultation Services

If you are a tenant or a landlord dealing with an unlawful situation it is best that you do not try and handle this situation on your own, as the problem can escalate and spiral out of control. In the event of a landlord or tenant dispute, your best bet is to hire a lawyer to mitigate the problem for you directly. For help navigating a landlord / tenant dispute, you can call attorney Bucklin at 781-632-8675 or contact him directly on his website

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