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What is a Residential Lease Agreement?
A residential lease agreement is an important part of renting a piece of property to live in. It is the agreement that the landlord and the new tenant will make to ensure that everything that is done on the property is legal and agreed upon by both parties. Ideally, the landlord should write up the lease agreements so that it is ready for any new tenants that are applying to live on the premise. Even though the document can have some lee-way when it is created, in the state of Georgia, there are certain fundamental sections of the agreement that will need to be present in the document.
Georgia Residential Lease Agreement Elements
The sections that follow are necessary elements to a residential lease. Each section includes information that pertains specifically to lease agreements in Georgia. All rental properties are unique and it is important for the landlord to tailor their residential lease to the unit or property being rented. This guide lists various circumstances for landlords to consider as they are drafting a residential lease agreement. Landlords need to include the components listed here to be legally compliant in the state of Georgia.
Lease Introduction and Parties
When a residential lease agreement is written up in the state of Georgia, the first thing that should be seen on the document is the names of both of the party members who will be taking part in the agreement. The names that will need to be listed in this section will be the full, legal name, which may include at least a middle initial or name. This is going to be required for the landlord as well as the tenant, so if there is more than one tenant moving in, make sure that both names are included in the document.
Underneath the names, the next part of the document will be the address of the property that is being rented. It will include the full street address and any apartment number or additional information that may apply. Some rental leases will include the county that the property is located in as well. In this section, the phone number for both of the parties should be included.
Terms of the Agreement and Occupancy Limits
The next section of the lease agreement for a residential property in Georgia should include the terms of the arrangement. Any of the terms that the tenant and the landlord agreed upon need to be listed, and if the tenant is asking for a specific type of unit, it needs to be written out in the agreement. Also, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that are on the property needs to be placed in this part of the agreement as well.
This section will also need to give some of the details of the unit, which could include appliances that are in the space, and whether or not certain appliances are permitted in the unit. This could mean things like a washer, a dryer, or a dishwasher, so if there are rules about them being installed, they need to be listed here. Also, any furniture that is left in the unit by the landlord needs to be written down here as well.
Some homes are only designed to house a certain amount of people, so if that is the case, this information should be found in this section of the agreement. Some landlords may request an additional fee for more people sleeping in the unit, or but an individual who stays in the unit for less than two months is likely to be considered a guest.
Rent and Utilities
When it comes to the terms of the lease, this section will also include things like the amount of rent that is due each month and the day that it should be paid. Also, mention the location where the tenant should drop off the rent each month should be listed here as well, especially if it is not on the same property as the unit that they are renting.
Any late fees that may apply as well as returned check fees should be listed as well. If the lease automatically renews when it expires, the landlord should make sure that the tenant is aware of this, but in the state of Georgia, there is a chance that there could be more of a process that needs to be followed for the renewal process. Tenants that are late with their rent quite often, so the property manager may request that they turn in their rent each month with a money order or a bank check instead of a personal check.
One of the main concerns that many tenants may have is the parking situation at the unit’s location. Many tenants will want to make sure that they are going to have an easy time finding a location to park, especially if they get home late at night. With that being said, parking can consist of a parking lot where everyone can park or individual spaces that are assigned to the tenants. Make sure that any parking rules and regulations that must be followed are listed here.
Utilities are something that can add a lot of money to the cost of a rental, so if the tenant does not need to pay one of the utilities or a few, they need to know about it. Any of these bills that will be covered by the landlord should be listed here as well as the ones that the tenant should be responsible for. Ideally, the landlord should include contact information for the major utility companies in the area so that they can easily put the utilities in their name.
Security Deposit and Additional Fees
Another one of the major considerations that a new tenant will be wondering about when they opt for a new residential lease agreement is the amount of money that will be required to move in. The security deposit is typically not more than a single month’s rent, but in the state of Georgia, there is not going to be an upper limit that is set by the state. Whatever is agreed upon between the two parties is what should be given to the landlord or the management company when the initial payment is due.
The deposit is then held by the landlord until the terms of the lease expire. If the lease is not renewed, this deposit is designed to be used to make any repairs that need to be done when the tenant vacates the premise. If there is nothing that needs to be repaired because of the tenant, then the security deposit that is given at the beginning of the rental period should be returned within so many days. Typically, the landlord will have a 30-day period to return the deposit to the tenant by mailing it to their new address.
Another fee that some tenants may be responsible for paying is a partial month. If a unit is empty and ready to be lived in, the landlord may allow the tenant to move in earlier that the first of the month. If this is the case, the landlord is going to request a partial rent payment for the time. When this occurs, the official lease will not start until the first of the month in most situations; this time is just additional time that the tenant can use the unit.
Maintenance, Alteration, and Repair Needs
Before a new tenant moves into the unit that is up for rent, they are most likely going to want to do a walkthrough of the property so that they can see if there is anything that needs to be maintained or repaired before they move in. This could include things like the quality of the appliances in the space or something as simple as new carpet is required in the space. Anything that is required before the tenant moves in should be listed here in this section of the agreement with a definite plan for when the landlord plans to fix the issue. If there are no repairs that need to be completed before the tenant moves in, that needs to be written here as well.
Once the tenant moves in, it is likely that the unit will need to have more repairs done at some point during the new tenant’s time in the space. The process for getting repairs done when they need to be done should also be listed in this section as well. Sometimes the landlord will take care of specific repairs so that they are done in a specific way, but this is not always going to be the case. Any repairs that will fall on the landlord’s shoulders will need to be listed here as well as the steps to follow when the tenant is responsible for the repairs.
Once the request is sent to the landlord, it is going to be their responsibility to do the repairs in a timely fashion so that they do not remain an issue for long. If the landlord prefers to make the repairs by themselves, they can do so, but they will also have the option of asking the tenant to make the repairs. If they do this, the tenant can ask for a deduction of the amount of their next month’s rent.
Another thing to consider is the alterations that will eventually need to take place in the unit. Any alterations that may need to be done should be requested in writing so that the landlord can give their consent to have them done. The main alterations that should be considered include the painting of the walls, changing light fixtures, and changing the appliances that are in the unit to make them more environmentally friendly. Anything that the tenant may want to change over time will fall into this category.
Notice of Entry
Sometimes the landlord may need to have access to the premise for inspections or repairs. When this is required, it is important that they give the tenant a notice that informs them that a member of management will need to have access to the unit. In the state of Georgia, the landlord only needs to provide the tenant with a 24-hour notice.
When the tenant moves in, they will be provided with the keys to the premise as well as a key to the mailbox. If more than one tenant is moving in, multiple sets of keys will be distributed for the tenants to use. Many tenants will choose to place another lock on their door for security purposes, but if this is done, they will need to provide the office with the new lock to the door so that they have access if an emergency occurs. Any additional keys that are made for the unit should be turned in to the management team when the lease term is over and the tenant vacates the property.
Pet and Other Addendums
Pets can be a part of a tenant’s family, so as a landlord, it is important to consider what needs to be done to accommodate them living in the space. Will pets be welcomed into the home or will there be some restrictions that will need to be followed by the tenant who is moving into the unit? It is important that any pet information that pertains to the property is listed in the agreement so that the potential tenant knows whether or not this is a place that they can call home.
In the state of Georgia, when the property does not allow pets at all, or there is some type of rules regarding pets that the tenants must follow, they need to be listed in the agreement. Some landlords will accept cats and dogs, but others may only accept cats on the property. If there is a specific number of pets allowed per unit, it should be written out in the agreement as well as any breeds that may not be permitted on the property. These rules and regulations are often set by the management to help keep the other residents who live on the property safe.
Sometimes, a landlord may request that the tenant gives an additional security deposit for the pets living in the unit. This amount can vary, and it can be a one time fee or an amount that is added onto the rent amount that is due each month. This money will be used to fix any damage that the pet causes, and if there is no damage when the tenant vacates, the money should be returned to the tenant.
In some areas, the landlord will set a time where the noise outdoors needs to be limited. This will help deter loud noises and parties on the property so that the other tenants can go to bed as they please. A tenant is also responsible for their guest’s activities, so any disruptive behavior in the common areas that will affect other tenants will not be permitted. Also, if smoking is not permitted within the building or outside, this will need to be mentioned here as well. If the community has designated smoking areas, make sure that they are listed in the agreement as well so that the tenant knows where smoking is permitted on the property.
If there are additional restrictions that the tenant will need to be aware of before moving into the unit, then they should be listed in this section of the agreement as well. This may include prohibiting things like a washer, a dryer, a waterbed, or similar items.
Legal Restrictions and Rules
In this section, a landlord will want to include any additional information that a new tenant will need to know. This can include anything from where they can park, storing hazardous materials on the property, or other things.
Parking is a thing that all tenants in Georgia will tend to need, so it is important that there are parking rules in effect that let them know where they can park. They should also be made aware of any parking fees that will apply in this section of the lease agreement.
If lead-based paint is possibly on the premise, the tenant will need to be told. This can be a real hazard to a pregnant woman and small children, so they will need to receive a disclosure form before they sign the agreement so that they are aware of the potential dangers of the situation. This is only required for units that were built before the year 1978.
In Georgia, a flood disclosure must also be given to the tenant if the property has had more than three floods in the past five years. Even if they were minor floods, it could be a potential danger to the new tenant and their property, so they will need to be made aware that it could be an issue.
The final section that should be located in any Georgia residential lease agreement is the signature section. This section will not require a lot of thought, but without a signature from both parties, it will not actually be a legally binding document. Once the terms of the lease have been discussed, both parties will need to sign and date the document in this section.
For the laws that govern early termination of lease agreements in Georgia, click here.