House Renter’s Predicament: How Long Should My Lease Be?
House Rental Lease Agreements 101
During the late 1990s and early 2000s, homeowners by the score took advantage of the real estate industry’s low prices, low interest rates, and low oversight to buy second homes for vacation or investment purposes. After the fall of the market in the mid-2000s, many of these homeowners suddenly found themselves in hot water, trying to maintain two mortgages. This has resulted in an upswing of homes being put back on the market, this time as rentals.
Renting a home is really not that different from renting an apartment, but a home rental typically attracts a different type of renter from that of an apartment. Home rentals, due mostly to their sheer size and family-friendly nature, tend to draw the attention of families more so than individual renters. When children are involved, it’s not uncommon for a family to want to secure their rental for several years. For some landlords, this can prove to be a dilemma, leading to the eventual question – how long should you expect a home lease to be?
Year-to-Year or Multi-Year Lease
Apartments almost always carry either month-to-month leases or annual lease agreements. This might seem like a short duration, but it is done for a reason. At the end of the lease period, the landlord has the ability to renew the lease or not to renew it. They can also decide to raise or to lower the rent based on the market trends.
In most cases, home rentals follow this same standard. The majority of home rental agreements are based on one-year agreement terms. Landlords, whether they are renting out homes or apartments, simply don’t want to find themselves tied down with nightmare tenants for any longer than they have to. So they will usually offer year-to-year leases in an effort to keep their risks as low as possible.
It is a very rare landlord indeed who will even entertain the thought of extending their rental agreement beyond a 12-month term. It’s rare, but not impossible.
Renting a Home With Children
For many families, renting a home may be the best solution they have for providing their children with stability. For this reason, these types of renters will often try to negotiate multi-year leases. These families don’t want to have to worry about taking their kids out of school or away from the friends they’ve made. They want to enjoy living in their communities without worry that they might have to look for another place to live in a few months’ time.
In such cases, a landlord might offer a 12-month lease upfront with the potential for a multi-year lease upon renewal. This is so they can have a year to learn more about their renter’s habits. This allows the landlord to get to know their renter before they take the leap in offering a lease longer than a year.
What to Expect in a House Lease
Lease agreements for houses are almost identical to those drafted up for apartments, but depending on the landlord, the inclusions can be minimal or extensive. That said, along with the rent amount and duration, most house rental agreements tend to include the following:
- general conduct requirements
- parking restrictions
- pet allowances
- proper use of outdoor (or common) space
- property alteration restrictions
- garbage removal
- maintenance requirements
- utility responsibilities
- guest restrictions
Move Out Conditions and Expectations
It’s important to understand that every lease is different, just as each landlord and renter is different. You never really know what the landlord is going to be willing to do for you until you ask. Depending on your negotiation skills, you may be able to secure a multi-year lease that benefits both your family and your landlord, so it’s always worth asking about.
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