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Updating Your Leasing Contracts

Consider this your calm before the storm. While your office may be quiet for now, rent season will soon be upon us. During those busy months, it can be difficult to keep track of the details of your various rental agreements. By updating your leasing contracts now, you prevent chaos down the line. Start off with a clean slate with each of your tenants this year by ensuring your leasing contracts are up to date.

Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management recommends starting out by clarifying your language. Leases can get overwhelmed with legalese that make little sense to the average tenant. Instead, embrace clear, no nonsense language in your lease. Firmly and clearly outline your expectations and you'll have no trouble communicating the rules down the line. Be sure to clarify your policies on pets, quiet hours, guidelines on where to park, renters insurance obligations and how tenants should handle their garbage disposal. Rules about modifying the rental should also be crystal clear.

Of course, no rule should be set in stone. Before your busy rental season begins, it's important to step back and take your own personal experiences into consideration. If you've had to constantly remind tenants about when trash day is each week, perhaps you need to adjust the way you communicate the message. Or if you find tenants have been sneaking pets into your apartments, maybe you should reconsider your rules surrounding animals. Meeting people halfway will make your life easier.

Rent season also offers you the opportunity to reflect on the last year of business. Consider what your current budget is, whether or not it is working for you and whether it could be increased or decreased. Take an honest look at the cost of security deposits and determine if they are enough to cover the damage done by the average renter. It's possible that you are not deducting enough, or perhaps are deducting too much to cover property damage when a tenant moves out. Also, consider how frequently your tenants are late with their rent payments. If it has been an ongoing problem, consider creating a late fee and including warnings about charges in your lease.

Embracing the calm before you rental storm is always a good idea. Take this time to reflect honestly about what can be improved and you'll reap the rewards this rental season.

- Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management

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