Identifying all parties to the lease agreement.
Identifying all parties in the lease agreement is important in any contract. Clearly list the landlord's name and tenants name, along with addresses for both parties. Include email and phone numbers for future contact information in case clarifications are necessary or emergencies. Include also a summary at the beginning that briefly goes over all aspects of the lease agreement.
Defining the asset, that is covered by the rental agreement
This includes the complete address of the rental and the property's condition at the time of the rental agreement. Include the condition of the rental things like the age of the paint job, any dents or scrapes from the previous owner as well as the condition of the property outside. Included with this should be the statement that defines what you as the landlord can do with the deposit (in case the property is damaged).
Include all funds associated with the lease agreement as well as the term of the lease.
Write the day of the month that rent is due, and where it should be sent and in what acceptable forms of currency (cash, check, money order). Make sure you state a late fee if you choose to have one, how much the late fee is and how many days rent can be paid late. Information about the security deposit should be included here as well. This would include the amount of the security deposit, how much extra needs to be paid if the tenant has a pet, and so on.
Write out the consequences for not paying rent or for damaging the property.
This includes the late fees, or damage fees for things such as carpet stains, chips, and dents made to the walls, damage done to paint or to the floors, etc. Also, include consequences for ending the lease agreement early or violating it in any way. State the consequences clearly making sure they are specific like eviction, court action, and reposition of the property. And make sure you follow through with them, sometimes people purposely rent homes from owners thinking that they think they can take advantage of.
Assign responsibilities for the landlord and the renter
Taking time to establish the specific responsibilities of landlord and tenant will save you time and headaches. These responsibilities include things like paying utilities, taking out trash and recycling, and maintaining the property. Make sure to check local laws before you write this, though; in some cases, the landlord has to pay for gas and water but in other cases, the tenant may pay these expenses. Outline who is responsible for making repairs, indoors and outdoors, and keeping appliances working as well. Check the laws here too, in most cases, the landlord is responsible for keeping the property safe and functional. Above all else, though, state that the tenant is responsible for informing the landlord about any problems or safety concerns immediately.
Another thing to do is to outline the specific obligations of the tenant, including that the rental property is strictly for residential purposes. Also, specify, whether or not the tenant can make changes to the property such as the painting the walls, putting holes in the wall for paintings or installing cable or internet on the property. State whether or not pets are allowed on the property and, if they are, how much it will cost extra each month for them to stay there. Also, consider whether or not the tenant can sublet a room or make an addendum to the contract. Add whether or not you will do checkups on the home, and how they will be done. (Usually, when you do checkups you have to give 24 hours notice and state the date and time when you will be visiting the property.)
Follow state laws, and have the lease reviewed by an attorney.
There are laws in every state that deal extensively with rental properties and the responsibilities of the landlord. Write up a standard lease agreement and then you can make edits and changes based on your property and circumstances. Then, take it to an attorney to get professional legal advice so you can adhere to the local laws. Attorneys will make sure you are using the correct language, and make any further suggestions to your lease agreement.
Make sure the contract is clear and both parties understand the terms
One way to do this is to, again, have it reviewed by an attorney so they can check it for spelling and grammar that can be confusing or legally troublesome. You can also use a highlighter after it is printed to highlight the most important parts of the lease agreement such as the deposit amount, when all payments are due, late fees and anything else dealing with money and rights. Do your best to answer any questions the renter might have and make sure to have your future renter clarify what they want if they would like to change a certain part of the contract.