Do you have a rental property in Snohomish County, Washington?

Or plan to have one?

As a landlord, your lease or rental agreement is the most important document. This contract covers all the details of your process.

Landlords have a lot of responsibilities and tasks on their hands. Rent collection and regular maintenance are examples from a long list of them. For this reason, rental agreements may receive less consideration than they should.

However, making sure you have a well-drafted rental agreement is essential:

  • You’ll face fewer disputes
  • There’s a lower risk of financial loss
  • Less stress and uncertainties
  • The interests of both sides receive protection

In this article, we’ll go over the key terms to include in your Snohomish County rental agreement.

 

#1: Clearly define approved occupants

You want to have only qualified tenants living in your rental. Indicating that the property is the residence for those only listed in the lease will ensure that they don’t sublet the rental.

 

#2: Indicate the lease term

A lease term defines the time period when all the terms outlined in the lease are enforced.

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You could have a rental agreement that is monthly, quarterly, or yearly. If you own a vacation rental, the agreement could even be a weekly one.

 

#3: Include a security deposit

How can you protect yourself from sudden expenses and losses as a landlord?

A security deposit is the recommended choice. There are no state laws on the limit of security deposits in Washington.  There are, however, some limitations in the City of Seattle.

In most cases, landlords in Snohomish County charge a deposit worth one or two month’s rent. You are able to make a deduction from the deposit in the following scenarios:

  • Damage amounting to more than normal wear and tear
  • Unpaid rent
  • Other breaches of the rental agreement (specified in the contract)

The Washington State Landord-Tenant Act (RCW 59.18) also provides guidance on proper handling of Security Deposits.

 

#4: Have all the tenants’ names

Make sure that the rental agreement includes all the adults living in the dwelling. They should sign the agreement because then you are able to seek rent from any of the listed persons.

Having all the names on the contract makes things much easier. If, for example, one of them violates the lease terms, you are able to terminate the contract. When they aren’t listed in the agreement, you’ll face more difficulties.

 

#5: Describe the rent collection

You should explain all the details regarding rent collection. This is also important for the residents. It’s in their interest to thoroughly understand the process of paying rent.

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Make sure to include the following information:

  • What kind of payment methods are accepted?
  • What is the amount due at the end of every payment period?
  • When is the rent due?
  • Is there a grace period? If yes, what is the duration?
  • What is the amount of late fees? When does it come into effect?
  • How are bounced checks penalized?
  • Clarification of the payment process.

 

#6: Set repair and maintenance responsibilities

Include the restrictions on repairs and alterations made by the occupants. You should have a policy for changing locks, painting walls, and similar undertakings. Most landlords require permission for such actions.

You should ask the leaseholders to notify you about any situation in the property that could damage the unit. Also, it’s indispensable to require the residents to keep the premises sanitary. Any damages resulting from negligence should be covered by them.

 

#7: Clarify the pet policy

One of the things you should clarify is whether you allow the tenants to have pets. If you permit pets, then you could put further restrictions into place. Many landlords specify the number and type of pets allowed. Depending on the circumstances, you may restrict the size of the pets in the rental property. Additionally, if you charge a pet deposit, fee, or rent, mention it in the agreement as well.

Do you prefer not to have pets?

In this case, you should add an explicit clause that prohibits pets in the rental unit. As with any other terms, it’s always the best policy to clearly spell it out.

 

#8: Describe the subject property

You should include a description of the rental property together with all the details.

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These include:

  • Address
  • The unit number
  • Access to any other structures that come as part of the property

When you have accurate details, there’s less risk of misinterpretation from the renters. Accordingly, you’ll avoid legal disputes. Miscommunication and inadequate information are common reasons for disagreements.

In Washington State, if your lease is longer than 1 year a Legal Description of the property is required  along with a notarized lease agreement.

#9: Establish inspection rights

Do you want to make sure that the rental is in good condition?

Include the term that allows you to inspect the property on a regular basis. Conversely, read the Washington State Landlord Tenant Act (RCW 59.18) rules on the landlord’s entry and inspections. Make sure your policy has solid legal ground.

 

What you can’t include in your Snohomish County rental agreement?

Sometimes landlords erroneously have illegal terms in their rental contract. Make sure that it doesn’t contain any of the following instructions:

  • The tenant has to pay for damages they aren’t responsible for
  • A demand that waives a right under the landlord-tenant laws
  • Your responsibilities as a landlord get legally downplayed
  • The landlord retains personal items in case of late payments

Make sure that all the terms are legal under the Washington State landlord-tenant laws and local ordinances.

 

The bottom line: terms of your Snohomish County rental agreement

A rental contract is the pillar document of any landlord-tenant arrangement in Snohomish County. A properly drafted rental agreement protects the interests of both sides.

Check that your rental agreement contains the following terms:

  • Names of all the adult occupants
  • Occupancy limits
  • Lease term
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Security deposit
  • Rent collection
  • Pet policy

If you think that you’d benefit by hiring a professional property management company, contact us at T-Square Properties today!