A lease is a legal contract. If properly written and signed, a lease agreement becomes a binding document that can be enforced against the party when the agreement is violated. However, just like any other contract, a lease document must be prepared in accordance with the existing laws.
As a tenant, it is easy to feel like the landlord has exclusive powers to decide the terms of the lease contract. However, it is important to understand that tenants have rights too. Here are three provisions that the landlord cannot include in the lease agreement:
1. Passing responsibility for repairs to the tenant
As tempting as this might be, the landlord cannot require the tenant to undertake the general maintenance and upkeep of the property. Why? Because the property owner is responsible for ensuring that the rental unit is fit for human habitation.
Of course, the story changes if the tenant causes some damages. The landlord cannot be responsible for a repair that is occasioned by the tenant’s improper use of the rented property. For instance, the landlord may deduct the cost of repairing a broken window from the security deposit upon notifying the tenant. However, damages resulting from ordinary “wear and tear” cannot be passed on to the tenant.
2. Denying some tenants certain privileges
It is important that you treat all tenants equally. This means that you cannot prohibit certain tenants from privileges that other tenants have access to. For instance, you cannot bar some tenants from accessing common laundry facilities, pools, parking or exercise rooms. Doing so amounts to discrimination, and this can set you up for a lawsuit under the federal Fair Housing Act.
3. Denying a tenant the right to seek legal recourse
You cannot have this clause in the lease agreement in any form, shape or way. If you violate any landlord-tenant law, be rest assured that your tenant will have the right to sue for damages regardless of whether they signed some agreement indicating that they should not.
A lease contract can go a long way in ensuring a cordial landlord-tenant relationship. However, the agreement must be valid. These are some of the provisions that you cannot include in the lease agreement.