An important document that every Albuquerque landlord must have is a well-crafted lease agreement. A lease agreement provides tenants and landlords with a legally enforceable contract.
Regardless of the lease or rental agreement, there are certain terms that must be included when writing an NM lease agreement.
Here are some of the most important items that your Albuquerque lease or rental agreement needs to cover:
1. Names of All Tenants
Your lease or rental agreement should name all adults living in the rental unit regardless of whether they are married or not. You should also have them sign the document in order to have them legally responsible for all lease terms.
By doing this, you’ll be able to legally hold them accountable for all terms under the lease. For instance, you would be able to terminate their tenancy should any of them breach a lease term.
2. Limits on Occupancy
After listing all the tenants’ names in your lease, next you must set occupancy limits. Your Albuquerque lease agreement should state that the rental unit should only be occupied by parties to the lease. This also includes their children.
This helps ensure that your property is occupied by qualified tenants. That is, those who have passed your tenant screening process. It also gives you the right to evict a renter who keeps an unauthorized tenant.
3. Rules on Security Deposits in NM
Conflicts pertaining security deposits are common between landlords and tenants. To avoid legal hassle and confusion, your lease should be clear on the issue.
To help address the issue of security deposits, your lease or rental agreement should be clear on the following things.
- The security deposit amount. According to New Mexico security deposit laws, the security deposit amount depends on the lease term. For a tenancy that’s less than a year, you can collect one month’s rent as security deposit. For a tenancy that’s more than one year, you have two options: one, collect a one month’s rent as a security deposit; or two, collect more than a month’s rent but keep the tenants’ security deposit in an interest-bearing account.
- When and how you must return the tenants’ security deposit. Under NM rental laws, you have 30 days to return a renter’s security deposit from the day they move out. The security deposit returned may either be whole or a portion.
- Reasons you can withhold their security deposit. In the state of New Mexico, you may withhold a renter’s security deposit for several reasons. They include unpaid utilities, unpaid rent, property damage, and lease violations.
- Your agreement should also state if there are any legal non-refundable fees. For example, those for pets and cleaning.
4. Rent Rules and Fees
Sometimes landlords get into trouble by not listing all fees, charges, deposits, and rent in the lease agreement. To avoid issues, your agreement should list everything regarding rent. For instance, the rent amount, due date, and acceptable methods of payment.
Lastly, you should specify whether or not there will be penalties for late payments and bounced checks. In terms of late fees, you should consider the following things:
- Will you charge a percentage of the rent amount as a late fee? If so, how much?
- Will you charge a daily fee? If so, how much?
- Will you charge a flat fee regardless of how many days the rent is late? If so, how much?
5. Terms of the Tenancy
For clarity’s sake, your Albuquerque rental document should specify whether it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. A rental agreement is short-term and usually runs from month to month. A fixed term lease, on the other hand, is longer and lasts twelve months.
Your choice should depend on how much flexibility you wish to have. A rental agreement gives you a chance to renegotiate the terms of the agreement from month to month. A lease agreement, on the other hand, gives you much-needed security.
It goes without saying that the vast majority of landlords prefer fixed-period leases.
6. Responsibilities Regarding Repairs and Maintenance
Your lease or rental agreement should state rules regarding responsibilities between you and your tenants. Your agreement should include:
- Restrictions on renter repairs and alterations. For example, installing a burglar system, adding a built-in dishwasher or painting walls.
- A requirement that the tenant alerts you to defective or dangerous conditions in the rental property.
- The tenant’s duty to keep the unit sanitary and clean and to pay for damages exceeding normal “wear and tear”. The following are examples of property damage exceeding normal wear and tear that the renter is liable for.
- Carpet soaked with pet urine
- Damaged or missing door handles/locks
- A hole in the middle of the door
- Broken toilet seat
- A smashed bathroom mirror
You, on the other hand, are responsible for property damage resulting from normal wear and tear. The following are examples of normal wear and tear.
- Loose door handles
- Dirty grout
- The color of carpet or hardwood fading due to sunlight exposure
- A couple of scrapes or dings on a wood floor
- A couple of small stains on a carpet
In terms of property maintenance, your NM lease agreement should clearly specify who is responsible for what. For instance, who is responsible for maintaining the yard? Have you provided a gardener? Is there an HOA that maintains it? Or is the tenant responsible for maintaining it?
7. Entry to Rental Property
As a landlord, you have a legal right to enter a rental unit. This right is however guaranteed so long as you don’t breach the tenant’s privacy rights. The Albuquerque landlord-tenant laws, state that you can enter a rental unit as long you provide prior notice and the tenant consents. The notice should be given at least twenty-four hours in advance. Here’s more on the landlord entry laws.
Having a well-drafted rental or lease agreement is critical to your success as an Albuquerque landlord or property investor. When drafting one, make sure you include the aforementioned items to avoid issues with your tenant in the future. If you lack the know-how of drafting one, don’t hesitate to contact Corner Post today for help!
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