What Tenants Need to Know About the House Rules

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on November 30, 2010 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs, Landlord Paperwork and Forms | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

tenant screening, background check, credit check tenantMany landlords we hear from believe that a thorough, well-written and lawyer-approved lease should contain all the rules and regulations a tenant needs to follow. And that’s partly true. But there’s a difference between the terms of a lease and the everyday policies you want your tenants to follow.

As a rule, leases are where the legalese lives: the legal description of the property, legal names of the parties involved, legal termininology, and the landlord’s legal recourse when terms are not followed. The “house rules” are generally more relaxed in language, are more flexible (i.e., they can change at any time with notice to all residents) and are simply intended to help everyone get along better and live in harmony. They are generally not legally-enforceable documents.

A signature on your list of policies or house rules is just as important as the signature on the lease. You want to be clear that your tenant understands the rules and agrees to abide by them. Review them together at the time of the lease signing, and be sure to ask if any item needs clarification.

10 Items to Include in Your Rental Property Rules

  1. Noise: Emphasize that consideration for other tenants is required, and that while your rental unit is well-constructed, it is not to be considered sound proof. Noises that disrupt others’ quiet enjoyment are not allowed. Include quiet hours, if desired.
  2. Window Treatments: Here you’ll include whether or not blinds or drapes are included with the rental unit and what care they require. If no treatments are provided, you may want to specify what color and type of coverings are allowed—and what are not allowed (like aluminum foil).
  3. Keys: Any key replacement fee should be included here, as well as emergency lock-out fees if a tenant forgets his or her keys after hours.
  4. Inclement Weather Procedures: Inform tenants of your requests during times of high winds, low temperatures, or high rain, as well as thermostat settings when the rental unit is occupied for specified lengths of time.
  5. Trash and Recycling: Tenants need to know what can be recycled and where it goes, along with non-recyclable trash.
  6. Parking: Where tenants are allowed to park, how many vehicles each unit is allowed to keep onsite, where not to park, and whether or not non-running vehicles are allowed are some of the rules you’ll want to spell out here.
  7. Common Areas: Are tenants allowed to leave property in common areas like hallways, sidewalks and patios? Who is responsible for clearing snow and ice from walkways? Spell these things out here.
  8. Storage: Indicate where tenant storage is located, how they can access it, and any limitations (flammables, vehicles, dangerous chemicals, etc).
  9. Guests: Include things like where guests may park their vehicles and tenants’ responsibilities for their guests.
  10. Bicycle Parking: As bicycle commuting becomes more popular, many tenants will want to know where they can park their bikes. If you don’t want them chained to fences or balcony railings, specify where bike parking is allowed. Better yet, create special areas for bikes that are convenient and secure for cycling tenants.

Presenting a friendly list of house rules lets all tenants know what is expected of them and their fellow tenants. After all, who (besides fraternity kids, perhaps) wants to live in a place where there are no rules?

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