Key Provisions For Your Lease Agreement


My dad owned rental property for several years. At first, things started off pretty well. He had little maintenance and good tenants. He always did what he could to provide a comfortable home for his tenants and felt that he had a respectful working relationship with the people who rented from him.

One day, a stove went out in one of his units. He immediately replaced it. While he was installing the new stove, the tenant made a strange comment to him. She said, “I finally got one on you.” He was confused and asked her to explain. She told him that all these months she had been paying him rent but he never had to pay for anything, so she finally “got one on him”.

Unfortunately, that was a reality check for my dad. At that moment, he realized that sometimes his tenants did not see the relationship as he did. The harsh truth with rental property is eventually someone will try to beat you, even when it’s not a competition.

Property owners must prepare for the chance that they will have to call upon the judicial system to collect monies owed to them. The process of collecting on a detainer or breach of contract (in this case, the lease) action starts when you draft the lease. Certain key provisions need to be in your lease agreement to give you the best chance of success.

My office and a significant amount of my landlord-tenant practice is located in Madison County, Tennessee. Madison County follows Tennessee’s version of the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act (URLTA for short). URLTA was designed to level the playing field between property owners and tenants, causing consequences for property owners who do things like locking a tenant out of property for failure to pay rent, getting rid of personal property without notice to tenants, etc. It also places certain obligations on both the tenants and property owners.

Here are some key provisions for your lease agreement to keep you compliant with URLTA and prepare you in the event you have to take your case to Court.

Remember, a little lawyering on the front end can save you some headache on the back end.