I always freak out when I find out that my tenants are leaving. Turnovers are a lot of work — painting, changing the locks, squeezing in improvements where I can, refunding security deposits, getting the new tenants moved in…. Oh, and the biggest task of all, actually finding and screening suitable new tenants. A couple of years ago, when the rental market was a lot worse (and I was brand new at this whole landlord gig), I think I had 50 showings before I had a signed lease. (Last year, thanks to a very directed ad, and an improving rental market, I found tenants on the first day, after about 5 showings).
My new tenants gave me their security deposit, and signed the lease tonight, which means I got to take that “FOR RENT” sign out of my yard. The lease itself, I’ve hemmed and hawed over since the beginning. I’m still not sure I’ve got it just right.
WHERE TO GET A LEASE
There are many standard lease forms out there. There are, of course, many online sources to sift through. My local multi-housing organization sells a standard form for a couple of dollars. I also have a book called Every Landlord’s Legal Guide that includes a standard form. My tenant screening service offers a lease. And, of course, my city’s tenant’s rights organization offers their own version of a standard lease, for free. When I first bought my duplex, my boyfriend at the time (who also owned a duplex) was using a lease drawn up by his father, a patent lawyer who had been renting out investment property for years. He claimed it was “bulletproof.”