Rental agreements should be drafted to protect both landlords and tenants. However, landlords must be very careful about what clauses are included so they receive the full protection under the law. If you are struggling with creating a reliable lease agreement for a rental property you own, here are some essential elements to include. 

Some wear and tear are normal when living in a home. It is up to landlords to specify what is considered reasonable wear and tear and what requires repair. If these terms are spelled out explicitly, there is less of a chance for a tenant to successfully argue that he or she is not responsible for the state of the home upon move-out. Landlords should also include the type of changes tenants can make to a home (e.g. painting a room, hanging pictures) and the process for making you aware of any new damage that occurs. 

Rent is another important subject that must be discussed at length within the lease. Along with the exact rent amount and when it is due, also provide information on late fees, as late fees act as a deterrent to tenants who might be lax on remitting rent. You should explain other types of fees as well, such as costs for a bounced check and what utilities the tenant is responsible for while living in the home. 

While it seems cut and dry, make sure it is stated in the lease that absolutely no criminal activity should take place on the property. Information on pet ownership in the home, house guests, parking, and other important considerations must also be included. The clearer the document is, the less likely you and your tenant will end up in court down the line.