Keeping your lease agreements up to date

Geoff Roberts
Geoff Roberts | 3 min. read

Published on August 2, 2010

If there’s one type of document in property management that simply has to reviewed (and updated) on a regular basis, it’s your lease agreements.

This  is, after all, the document that will ultimately determine your rights and protect your best interests when it comes to issues both big and small.  Because you’re dealing with a host of rules and regulations on the federal, state, and local levels, it’s imperative that you not only adjust your lease as necessary when laws change, but also that you’re in compliance and protected on all three fronts.

If you’re not proficient in legalese, chances are reviewing your lease (and, moreover, identifying those elements that need to be changed) is a daunting endeavor at best. Following are some tips and best practices for keeping your lease up-to-date and your best interests protected on an ongoing basis.

Hiring Legal Counsel
Yes, this can be a somewhat expensive option. However, consider the fact that a water-tight lease can potentially spare you legal costs of a far more unpleasant variety in the future and additionally saves you a ton of time (as compared to reviewing and revising a lease on your own). Suddenly, the cost of hiring a legal professional to review your lease becomes a far more appealing option. If you do choose to take this route and don’t already have a trusted lawyer in your contact base, talk with real estate and property management professionals for references to proven lawyers that specialize in such matters.

Professional or Association Meetings and Seminars
Taking part in professional groups and associations on both a local and national level can benefit your business in any number of ways. Particularly in the case of associations, it’s their job to keep close tabs on all of the legislative and legal issues that affect your profession. Most associations offer updates on such issues in addition to regular meetings and seminars designed specifically to guide you on issues such as leases, contracts, and other legal concerns. While professional groups in your area may or may not have meetings and seminars specific to this topic, such gatherings offer the perfect forum to exchange information on issues like this and to learn about any developments that may affect you.

Just as important as an up-to-date knowledge of laws and regulations is your own experience. Let’s say, for example, you’ve had consistent issues with tenants’ pets on your property. You currently have a pet policy in your lease, but know from hard-won experience that your life would be made easier by just disallowing them altogether. In such scenarios, take your own best advice and alter your lease to make it reflect a more manageable, optimal situation for yourself. One word of caution, though: Even in situations like this, you still want to ensure that such changes are not in violation of standing federal, state, or local laws by utilizing one of the aforementioned resources.

In the end, the most important thing is that you make a commitment to yourself to review and update your lease on a regular basis. Perhaps you want to schedule a lease review into your calendar as a recurring task the first week of every year. Whatever you do, don’t let it fall to the wayside. Always be alert to changing regulations that may affect you and potential problems that become apparent from your own experience with tenants your tenants.

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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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