All Residential Leases Are Not Equal

In most states, a residential lease does not have to be in writing, if it is for a year or less term. Nevertheless, it is a very good idea to have it in writing for any term length. But if you do have it in writing, are the terms and conditions sufficient to protect you under state law? In other words, how do you know if you have a “good” lease?

First of all, the perspective matters. What’s good for a tenant is not necessarily, and, almost without exception, cannot be good for the landlord, and vice versa. You can be sure that if a landlord hired an attorney to draft a lease for her, it would look significantly different than one drafted for a tenant client. For this reason, without any doubt, the best lease for you will be the one crafted specifically for you by an attorney familiar with your state’s statutes.

Unfortunately, the cost of legal counsel causes most private landlords to look for other solutions. Many elect to use the generic leases commonly sold at retail office supply stores. Even though such leases have been usually drafted by an attorney, they are designed to avoid conflict with the laws of multiple states, and often times all fifty states. Because of this, these leases must be nonspecific. Bottom line-they are not designed to comply with state statutes, but rather to simply avoid conflicting with them. This is because the landlord-tenant laws of each state can and do vary immensely. So it’s not too difficult to understand why this kind of lease is better than no lease at all, but really not by much.

In many states, Realtors® use a standard form drafted by a committee at the state association of Realtors®. Usually, several attorneys sit on the committee, so Realtors® can be comfortable that the lease is legally competent. This lease is much better than the store bought variety, because it specifically observes state statutes and regulations. Unfortunately, because the committee designing this lease has no allegiance to either party, it crafts the document in such a way that it is fair to both landlords and tenants. The problem with such a lease is that in an effort to be fair, it ironically leaves both sides vulnerable. Surely, a skilled property manager can supplement the lease to benefit their client by adding a few choice special stipulations. But there is a limit to what can be done to undo the “given” by special stipulation. In any case, it is difficult duty to write such special stipulations without shining the light on the issues to such an extent that these acts would pass the scrutiny of an astute tenant prospect, thereby inviting question and debate, which is the last thing a landlord wants at lease signing.

Perhaps the most efficient alternative is to hire a professional property manager to represent you in the deal. But also make sure that this property manager has suffered the expense of producing an attorney reviewed, proprietary lease. Not a lease designed by a committee, which is fair to all parties, but rather one that is written specifically to protect your interests and rights under the law.

Daniel R. Wilhelm, Executive Broker

The author is neither an attorney nor an accountant. Nothing written should be construed as legal advice. Conclusions conveyed are outcomes based upon practical experience and should not be depended upon to be a common outcome of other similar circumstances. Consult with a professional before making tax or legal decisions.

10 Property Management Tips

Are you looking for some useful property management tips? If so, you may want to read the following 10 tips from experts in the field. With these tips, managing property will be a lot easier for you. Read on.

Provide Important Information

Make sure your customers and clients have access to the information about the properties. If you really want to get the listing, you should be able to share all the relevant information in an efficient manner.

Be Punctual

You should be committed as far as making arrangements for a meeting or appointment is concerned. Try your best to get to the meeting point at least a few minutes earlier. This is a good way of leaving great impression on your clients.


You should be well dressed when seeing your clients. This will encourage your clients to treat you well. Moreover, your dress code will tell a lot about you.


You should be honest while providing reports and statistics about your properties. Providing misleading or false information to clients is the best method to destroy your business. What you need to do is find a strategy to deal with the situation and get a solution instead of providing false information.


You should market your property in an effective way. The vender may have unrealistically high hopes, but you should be realistic and shouldn’t agree to the price offers without taking the time to think about everything. After all, you don’t want your property to sit vacant for months just because the price tag was too high.


Advertising your property is of great importance. Make sure the advertisement is available at the right time. Therefore, you should be ready with a draft on time. Aside from this, it’s better that you get approval from the vender prior to uploading the advertisement on your site.


Make sure you take some professional photos of the properties and upload them on your site. Ideally, it’s a good idea to take at least 4 pictures of each property. The pictures should be taken from different angles. Putting a few videos along with photos is also a great idea.

Stay in Touch

You should send updates and reports to the property owners on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, maintaining great relationship with your clients pays. Losing a client is easier than gaining a new one. Therefore, you should stay touch with your clients.


You should know your database. Your prospective clients should receive the same level of respect as do your existing clients. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take a look at your list of clients from time to time.

Background checks

Make sure you do background checks on your tenants. What you need to do is do rigorous background checks on the personal information, tenancy history and employment history of your tenants. This is a great way of making sure you are on the safe side.

In short, you should follow these tips if you want to do your property management in the right way.

Respectful Communication and Teamwork Leads to Success

There is an old saying that resonates in all aspects of life. “Respect is earned.” A very wise former Manager of mine reminded his staff that we must respect our customers at all times. In business, the customer is not our only client. Our co-workers are our internal clients. The customer isn’t always right, but every person deserves to be treated with respect and in adherence with the golden rule: “Treat others the way you’d like to be treated.” There will be times when these adages are not being followed by your customer.


• It is okay to respectfully disagree with a client, however there’s a right way and a wrong way to articulate the organization’s point of view. The resolution to an issue may or may not address the client’s concern form his or her perspective.

• Communicating effectively when the client may perceive a request or a complaint is not addressed the way that the customer would like is of extreme importance. The customer will appreciate the fact that they’ve been heard and that their concerns have been acknowledged.

• Document, document, document. Communication is the key to excellent customer service. Not everyone learns or comprehends the same way. There are times when a conversation is more effective than an e-mail. When you’re speaking with a customer, they can hear the tone in your voice and pick up on nonverbal cues that an e-mail just can’t convey. When information is communicated verbally, follow up reiterating what was said and agreed to in an email. This way, there’s a record verifying the conversation, and everyone is on the same page.

Regardless of the position one holds within an organization, recognizing the importance of each person’s function to the success of the company helps to create a more cohesive work environment. Every employee has an important role, independently and as a team, to adhere to the processes, procedures, and guidelines, to ensure that the company is successful.

• The Owner or CEO of an organization plans, budgets and works so that the company’s vision and success will come to fruition.

• It has been said that the janitors carry and distribute the most important paper in an organization!

• Every level and department in an organization matters. If an area is weak, the company may not succeed to the level that it should.

• Treating everyone with respect creates an environment where ideas, knowledge and experience are freely exchanged and where people support one another. Such a team environment allows the organization to thrive, expand, retain and attract the best people.

The “sundown rule” (answer all e-mails or return all phone calls by the end of the business day) is a good rule to follow. Occasionally, it will be necessary to take time to gather all of the pertinent information to accurately respond to a client’s concern or request. Let them know that! Even if you respond advising them that you will get back to them at a later date, their concern has been acknowledged and they’re aware that you’re working on a resolution or response. When the customer is happy, the business will thrive. Word of mouth endorsements and referrals can be as, or even more effective than paid advertisements.

Team Work: Be excited to work for your company! The more successful each individual is, the more successful your team will be.

• Working as a team, with mutual respect and effective communication, provides an opportunity for each individual to succeed and as a result, the organization will grow.