A rental agreement is a binding legal document that lays out all the responsibilities for a rental tenant and a property owner. It’s like the Bible of your renting relationship: It makes sure everyone understands the rules of working together as well as the consequences of breaking those rules.

Writing a strong, comprehensive rental agreement is key to setting the tone for the entire tenant/owner relationship. By leaving out something critical or misphrasing a key passage, you can be setting yourself up for a world of hurt. Of course in the rental agreement, you’ll want to address basic issues like the security deposit and how much can be refunded, monthly rent and when it’s due and so on. But there are a few issues you might forget to add to your rental agreement.

First, make sure you name every adult who lives at the property. This helps clarify who is ultimately responsible for the rent. If one adult moves out, the other will be legally responsible for picking up the slack and making sure the rent is still paid in full and on time. It also helps you keep tabs on exactly who’s living there. You’ll also want to stipulate how many adults and children can live on the property.

Next, you have to address pets. More than half of all Americans own pets, so the issue is going to come up. Are pets welcome on the property at all? Maybe you’ll allow fish, but not dogs or cats. Or maybe you want to limit what breeds the tenants can own, like forbidding pit bulls. Is there an additional monthly charge for pets? A damage deposit? What happens if you catch the tenants with pets without your permission? Whatever you decide to do is all well and good, but you have to make sure everyone’s clear on the rules.

Finally, make sure you include clear outlines of what maintenance you, the property owner, will take care of, and what’s in the hands of your tenants. Who will mow the lawn? Trim the trees? What appliances will you repair and what will the tenants need to take care of? Again, any way you want to allot these responsibilities is fine, but everyone has to be on the same page.

The best way to make sure your rental agreement is water-tight and clear is to work with an experienced Indianapolis property manager like Polaris Property Management. Call Dan Baldini and let us take care of all your rental agreement questions.