3 Things to Know About Leases
If you do not know this already, a lease is typically a contract or an agreement by virtue of which one party (you, the landlord) conveys property to another (your tenant) for a specified time, in return for a periodic payment of rent. While it is possible to draw up your own lease, it is always wiser to have an attorney take a look at it before your tenant signs it. Here are 3 things to know about leases in New Jersey.
3 Things to Know About Leases | Written Lease vs. Verbal Agreement
Obviously, a verbal agreement is one which has not been reduced to writing and, except for cases regarding payment of rent which the landlord can generally substantiate by keeping written receipts showing the manner in which payment of rent is made, such leases are virtually unenforceable in a Landlord-Tenant Court.
If he has not insisted upon a written lease, a landlord’s attempts to evict a tenant for other violations – meaning those which the landlord imposes as violations of the tenancy – will encounter serious challenges.
3 Things to Know About Leases | What to Consider When Creating a Lease
It is essential that a landlord draft his lease very carefully because the purpose of that lease is to provide clear protections for the landlord. Absent a lease, a tenant is not obligated to abide by any rules or regulations other than the timely payment of rent, so it is a big mistake for any landlord not to have a lease. Many landlords hold to the erroneous belief that a lease somehow helps the tenant; however, that is absolutely false.
As a landlord, it is important that you make sure your lease includes specific language that prevents such conduct as having pets, if that is a clause you require your tenants to fulfill. You may also prohibit other behaviors such as smoking or the playing of loud music at times that are after normal hours.
You can even set forth clear timetables to govern when the rent is to be collected. Also, if the rent is going to be late, the lease must clearly state when the late period begins. Late charges must be clearly stated in the lease – and they have to be deemed to be additional rent. An additional rent clause must be included in every lease because, without an additional rent clause, you cannot seek to recover those charges in Landlord-Tenant Court as part of the rent. It is very important to set forth your expectations of your tenants in unambiguous and specific language.
3 Things to Know About Leases | What to Do if a Tenant Breaks a Lease
A landlord whose tenant breaks a lease may avail of several remedies. First, the landlord can file a Civil Action against the tenant in which he seeks payment of rent that would have been paid if the tenant had complied with the lease.
The landlord must, however, fulfill his obligation to mitigate the damages. For example, if a tenant breaks a lease with several months remaining in the stated lease term, the landlord cannot simply sue the tenant for the rent that he would have paid. The landlord must first make reasonable efforts to rent the premises, and he must be able to document those efforts.
Once the landlord makes and documents that effort – but his efforts prove unsuccessful – he can seek to have the tenant pay all the monies to which he would have been entitled under the lease, if the lease had not been broken.
Being a property owner with tenants can be both rewarding and frustrating. Contact our office today for a free consultation if you are facing any issues regarding leases in New Jersey.