What is a rental agreement?
A lease or rental agreement establishes the terms by which a landlord grants use of his or her property to a tenant or renter. While Idaho law allows for oral lease and rental agreements for up to one year, it would be foolhardy to enter into any rental agreement in the twenty-first century without written and signed documentation.
A strong rental agreement contains language that minimizes grey areas, protects both parties’ rights, and creates clear expectations that both sides will abide by. A weak or unclear rental agreement will increase the likelihood of misunderstanding, disagreement, and even litigation.
This guide is designed to provide guidance on the creation of rental agreements, specifically in Boise, Idaho. Each section below contains information on a different aspect of a successful Boise rental agreement, with an eye towards creating a clear, effective, legal document.
Who is involved in the rental?
The simplest and most important piece of information you need to lay out in your rental agreement are the legal names of the principals involved in the agreement. What person, organization, or business owns the property, and what adults will be living there? It is important to include the first and last names of all adults who will be living at the property under the terms of the rental, in addition to all relevant contact information. The names of children are not necessary, since they are not legally responsible for the rent or use of the property.
By including the full names of all official renters on your Boise rental agreement, a landlord protects him or herself in a variety of different ways. Once a signature is affixed to the rental agreement, that person cannot claim ignorance of any of the agreement’s contents. If the signed renters are permitting other adults to live in the residence outside of the lease, the landlord can demonstrate that the lease has been broken and take action accordingly.
How much money will change hands, and when?
Of course, when it comes to a Boise rental agreement, it’s important to establish the amount of rent payments, as well as the term of the agreement and how and when payments will take place. If the term (length) of your rental agreement is unclear, it may invalidate other aspects of the document. Make sure your Boise rental agreement includes the start and end date of the term and any provisions for how the term may be shortened or extended.
Your Boise rental agreement must clearly state the amount of the rent as well as what form it can be presented in (cash, personal check, money order, etc.). This section should also establish if there is any “grace period” for rent payment (i.e. how many days from the first of the month a tenant has to pay) and what penalty fees, if any, the tenant is subject to for late payment. If this information is unclear in a Boise rental agreement, it may damage the landlord’s chances of obtaining owed money in court.
The state of Idaho has a clear procedure in place for eviction for nonpayment of rent, which must be followed in the city of Boise. While Idaho does not recognize any legitimate reasons for nonpayment of rent (except unwillingness to install smoke detectors), landlords must still issue a notice to pay before beginning eviction proceedings on a tenant. After the notice to pay has been issued, tenants have three days to pay the rent before the official eviction process begins.
In addition to rent, a Boise rental agreement must also lay out the amount of the tenant’s move-in deposit and how it can be used. The state of Idaho does not place any limits on the amount of a deposit, so the landlord may establish whatever deposit they feel is appropriate. However, the agreement must also include a clear breakdown of how the deposit will be used, if necessary. For example, the rental agreement must state that funds from the deposit will be used to repair damage to the property done by the tenant, fund a house cleaning after move out, or otherwise lay out situations in which the landlord may use deposit funds.
Your Boise rental agreement should also establish how the remaining balance of that deposit will be paid back at the end of the agreement’s term. The state of Idaho does not require landlords to pay tenants any interest on the money they’ve held in deposit, but it does require that the deposit be repaid within 30 days of the property being surrendered back to the landlord.
Responsibilities for maintenance & repairs
State law establishes that it is the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the property in a way that protects the safety and health of tenants. This includes ensuring the building is structurally stable, maintaining electrical and plumbing systems, providing smoke detectors, eliminating insect infestations, guaranteeing the building’s heating system works, and a few other common sense measures.
If a landlord does not fulfill these requirements, tenants have a right to demand maintenance. The state of Idaho, including Boise, has a “Three-Day Rule” for landlords, meaning that corrective action for any health and safety violation must occur within three days of notice, or the tenant has the right to sue the landlord to force compliance.
These responsibilities for the landlord should be laid out in a Boise rental agreement in addition to maintenance expectations on the tenant. A successful agreement lays out language that establishes the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the health of the property by using equipment as designed, preventing manmade damage, and maintaining sanitary conditions. This protects the landlord legally, preventing a situation in which the tenant demands repair or other corrective action for damage the tenant committed themselves.
How and when can the landlord enter?
Under Idaho state law, tenants have a recognized right to privacy. This means landlords cannot show up for unannounced walkthroughs, inspections, or other unscheduled visits. However, landlords should use language in the lease or rental agreement to assert their right to enter the property to perform repairs, respond to emergencies, or show the property to other prospective tenants. This section of the Boise rental agreement should also establish a period of notice that the landlord must give the tenant before coming into the property.
If you account for all these concerns in clear writing, you will have a strong Boise rental agreement that will prevent unnecessary litigation, protect your rights as a property owner, and ensure clear expectations for your tenants. Remember, above all else: keep the language clear and specific. This article is not all inclusive and you should always contact a lawyer when drafting your rental agreement. If you would like assistance in managing your property you can contact us today and we would be glad to assist you.