Apartment Rental - Rules & Regulations
October 16, 2016 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Mr. Kitty and I are drafting our apartment rules & regulations. Help me think of things I'm missing!

Mr. Kitty and I are writing up some rules for renting our apartments. We have a basic outline right now (no making changes to the apartment, put out trash, our pet policy, keep heat at a minimum temperature to prevent pipes freezing, etc ).

I need help putting together a list of my "unknown unknowns."

We already have when rent is due/additional fees for late rent/returned checks listed in our Lease, so I am not looking for standard rental agreement things like that, but more day to day living rules.

For example - an obvious rule that I TOTALLY missed in my first pass was "no smoking indoors." I am a nonsmoker and it didn't even occur to me to have a rule about that before i started perusing on-line rules for other apartment buildings.

Rental & Landlord Mefites - what rules should i put into writing for my brand new, completely renovated apartments?
posted by Suffocating Kitty to Home & Garden (32 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Can they put down heavy furniture and drag it around on your floors without issue?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 3:00 PM on October 16, 2016

Best answer: If they have hardwood floors, maybe require people to use felt pads under furniture legs? Better yet, provide them.
posted by lollusc at 3:00 PM on October 16, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Depending on location - you may want to address snow removal. Who is responsible, making sure entrances and exits are cleared in a timely fashion.
posted by pintapicasso at 3:02 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: People will try to leave dogs outside, tethered or on an enclosed patio.

People will not know that they should put something under plants to prevent decking from rotting.

People will not realize they should not park on grass, or put large boxes and old appliances in the trash, or do loud things like use power tools or play music after bed time or early on a weekend morning.
posted by amtho at 3:10 PM on October 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I think you need to figure out where you stand on AirBNB sublets, too.
posted by amtho at 3:11 PM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: And this is why I LOVE Metafilter. All of these were not in my list and absolutely should be. Keep the suggestions coming!
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 3:13 PM on October 16, 2016

1. Specific quiet hours are useful if it's a shared building.
2. I personally would say no smoking on the property at all. It would be very irritating for tenants to purposefully move into a no-smoking building, and then have neighbors smoking outside their windows.
3. Also, lots of landlords prohibit waterbeds.
4. Address any parking issues.
posted by ktkt at 3:14 PM on October 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Things to address / specify:
Access to the roof
Parking rules
Garbage / recycling procedures
Rules for subletters / Air BnB
Smoking marijuana on the property
Illegal activities on the property
Damage deposit (maybe with photos beforehand)
What to do about vermin (for instance I have a cat and lived in the same building as my tenants, so I specified no rodent poison as I didn't want my cat eating a poisoned mouse)
Any rules about locking exterior or shared doors, or adding locks to bedrooms
Smoke detectors & fire extinguishers (in some buildings you can be fined if you remove these)
Time limits for use of shared outdoor space (like a nighttime noise rule)
posted by spockpuppy at 3:27 PM on October 16, 2016

I've lived in two different places now that not only didn't allow smoking, but didn't allow candles and/or incense. That could be specified if needed.

May also want to specify the no smoking of *any* substance; some people interpret 'no smoking' as just applying to tobacco products, instead of other substances like pot. Even if pot is illegal where you live, people will smoke it.
posted by spinifex23 at 3:28 PM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd rather pay a painting/damage deposit as a renter and be able to do what I want within reason. I'm a good tenant, but I do like to hang framed art, and with a baby on the way, a certain amount of holes in the wall to secure furniture for safety is absolutely necessary. If they are going to charge me later to spackle a few little holes and reprint the walls, that's fine. But I would not sign a lease which didn't let me live like a sane, normal person.
posted by ficbot at 3:42 PM on October 16, 2016 [16 favorites]

Definitely check your local laws before writing the final contract - I'd pay a lawyer to do this. There are places where, for instance, you can't say the tenant is responsible for snow removal. These kinds of things are often city-specific, though sometimes you'll get a weird state law (for example, specifically forbidding several classes of landlord from banning the display of American flags even if all other flags are disallowed.)
posted by SMPA at 3:48 PM on October 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

  • Portable grills: are tenants allowed to barbeque?
  • Recycling: I would emphasize that all boxes must be broken down to maximize space in the recycling container, and so that the lid can stay closed.
  • Package receiving: if UPS/Federal Express are not allowed to deliver packages to the leasing office, I would make sure residents are aware of that.
  • Laundry room: all laundry must be promptly removed, the lint trap should be cleaned after every use, and if these are HE washers/dryers, tenants should use HE detergent to prevent over-sudsing.

  • posted by invisible ink at 3:48 PM on October 16, 2016

    Kind of repeating SMPA, but -- here, you can put anything you like in a lease, but the provincial landlord-tenant laws override anything and everything in a lease. You can try and say "no pets," for example, but it's meaningless; you can't evict somebody for having a pet, because of the local rules about renting and their (relatively new) pet-friendliness.

    There are probably resources for landlords in your jurisdiction that would help you ferret out what will and what will not be enforced.

    And, repeating ficbot a bit, a laundry list of rules from a landlord that I know are not in compliance with the local landlord-tenant laws is a bit of a 'this person knows nothing of the law and will try to make trouble even though I am in compliance with local laws. They have their own ideas about what the law is and will not understand 'Yes, but as a tenant, my rights are X, which supersedes anything I have signed.' Move on to the next listing...' Nighttime noise would be up to local city by-laws about that, I think; there may be exceptions for certain kinds of housing. Ontarioans are, last I looked, allowed to hang pictures; there is a 'reasonable wear and tear' rule that covers that. But I think nowadays you can say 'no smoking' here, and have that enforced. (Trying to evict over usage of candles and incense would go nowhere under normal circumstances, though.)

    One thing you might want to worry about: how many appliances does the apartment come with? Here you can say 'includes fridge, built-in microwave, and stove,' and you must maintain those -- but if you happen to have an old washer and dryer in the basement that tenants may use, but which you would not be interested in replacing/repairing if they break, well, the lease specifies three appliances; you do not have to maintain the washer and dryer.

    All highly specific to jurisdictions -- the one about being allowed to display a country flag but not others is a total novelty to me, for example. The stuff about how much you might be able to charge for late payment is something that will probably vary, too -- here, if a tenant bounces a cheque, the landlord's remedy is to instigate eviction proceedings and the tenant can nullify that if s/he pays up by X date; you can't charge there, but I think there is a rule specifying the maximum amount you can charge for a bounced cheque.

    And then there is a clause about 'quiet enjoyment of the property' which makes noisy neighbours the landlord's problem to deal with... The minutiae just goes on and on. When I rented, I pretty much always got a boilerplate lease from a local office supply store; both parties understand that the provincial landlord-tenant laws encompass so much that if it is in the lease and not kosher per the province, ignore; if it is not in the lease, it is still covered by the province, so trying to DIY is often wasted time. A quick consult with lawyer is not a bad idea if you have the means, as where you live might be very different from here.

    The landlords who get the best results, in my experience, are those who (setting aside vetting the tenants thoroughly for a moment) provide the means to mitigate problems -- the part about providing felt pads for furniture is a great idea. Hand out 9V batteries twice a year (you might even be required to do this). Make it easy for tenants, and operate on a 'broken windows' idea. If it is your job to deal with recycling bins, and you leave them to overflow, tenants are going to stop caring about squishing down their boxes since the landlord clearly can't be bothered. I once had a friend who had a probably homeless person in the lobby with explosive diarrhea; management took over 24h to remove the reeking mess. You can imagine how enthusiastic the tenants were about keeping common areas clean.
    posted by kmennie at 4:41 PM on October 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

    The only nonstandard things that we have are that we have to change the filter on the HVAC unit, and there's a line about how if you leave your junk all over the porches, the landlord can take away your right to use the porch (basically "this is why you can't have nice things").
    posted by goodbyewaffles at 4:52 PM on October 16, 2016

    Grills, definitely; I had tenants whose grill melted vinyl siding. People are stupid and do not care about other people's property. Say what they should do more than list what they shouldn't, i.e., Park Here instead of Don't park here, here, and maybe there. I used to specify No guns because my son lived with me and I wanted to be safer. That might not be legal in all states. Require that smoke alarms be kept in working order and take batteries to your tenants annually. Have a key policy and define who will have a key and what will happen if they get locked out. Define who pays for service calls. One time, a tenant accidentally shut ff the furnace with the emergency cutoff switch. Then they called furnace repair because the furnace would not come on.

    Spend time calling references and talking to potential tenants. Much better to weed out jerks than try to manage jerk behavior. Local legal aid may have a tenant's' right brochure that can be informative for you.

    Take pictures of the unit before move-in. Review with tenants. Discuss that they will leave it in similar condition. Be fair about the final condition. Document where the electric panel, water shutoff, and other stuff is.
    posted by theora55 at 4:57 PM on October 16, 2016

    Definitely "no candles" and "don't disable the smoke detector."

    Not just no smoking indoors, but no smoking in common areas, on patios, in front of the building. Smoke wafts in through an open window pretty quickly.

    No waterbeds? They aren't really a thing anymore but I've seen that on leases.

    Pets not allowed unattended in common areas or outside.

    I agree with kmennie about "broken window theory." I am much more amenable to complying with rules when it seems like the landlord gives a shit about the property. I'll take better care of the washer and dryer when the coin boxes are emptied regularly. Etc. I love the idea of handing out 9v batteries for the smoke detector.

    This isn't really "rules," but you might want to also hand out a
    "tips sheet." Explanation of how to separate recyclables. How to best care for surfaces and appliances (especially if you have anything like a ceramic induction stovetop). What can and can not be used to clean the floor.
    posted by radioamy at 5:19 PM on October 16, 2016

    On a procedural note, you can make a list of "Rules and Regulations", and then write in the lease that the tenant agrees to follow the Rules and Regulations.

    Bonus points for having the Rules & Regs on one page, in list form, something that can be taped to the inside of a cabinet door for easy reference. When people see more than two pages, their eyes glaze over. Add some useful phone numbers, so it won't seem as draconian.
    posted by metaseeker at 5:29 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

    Depending on what types of pipe you have, "no Drano". This is secondhand but in my last apartment, our upstairs neighbor apparently repeatedly Drano'ed their bathtub drain and my roommate's ceiling caved in.

    Things my current lease specifies that stood out to me as "huh, wouldn't have thought of that":
    -75% of flooring must be covered with rugs in rooms other than kitchen/bathroom. I have wood flooring, so I'm guessing this is both about floor protection and noise reduction for downstairs neighbors
    -key replacement fee
    -no signs in windows, curtains must have white backing to create a uniform appearance
    -notify property management immediately if I see signs of bedbugs
    posted by capricorn at 6:01 PM on October 16, 2016

    Both my parents and I (we're all ex-LLs now) allowed tenants to customize paint with the proviso that they had to return it to its original state before move-out. This is, needless to say, a double-edged sword, especially if, to use a non-hypothetical example, the tenant paints the apartment royal purple and flaming scarlet. But it can make tenants happier.

    Is there a garage? Multiple garages? You will want to specify use if so.

    My lease included a warning about removing CO detectors.

    Ditto mentions of snow removal, as well as grounds maintenance (do you have a gardener? Will you do it yourself? Will a tenant handle this for a rent reduction?).

    I would suggest requiring that everyone who lives in the apartment be on the lease.
    posted by thomas j wise at 6:14 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

    Oh man I hope you let people know way in advance if you mandate floor coverings for hardwood. I am allergic to dust mites and I can't have carpet or rugs, so that's a dealbreaker for me. I would be pissed as a tenant if I got all the way to the lease signing and then found out I was expected to have rugs.
    posted by radioamy at 6:18 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

    You should grab a copy of a sample lease from your state. You ought to be able to find one online pretty easily. It'll have most of the basics.

    Apart from that, I would absolutely include a clause in there stating what your policy on AirBnB is. Also, include clear timelines on rent payments.
    posted by yellowcandy at 8:30 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

    Don't forget e-cigs and hookahs on your no smoking rules. Specify a distance from doors and common areas for smokers outside.
    posted by hydrophonic at 8:43 PM on October 16, 2016

    Some things I have thought about:

    Airbnb/short-term rentals
    Pets (total limits, maximum size, allowable breeds, etc)
    Rental insurance
    Snow clearing on balconies (if you don't, you get waterfalls)
    No rugs on balconies (can ruin them)
    Smoking of anything, allowed anywhere/on patios?
    Is there an elevator? Can it be reserved for moving?
    Minimum heat levels
    Odours in general
    Is there assigned or unassigned parking? There might be relevant rules depending on this
    Smoke and CO detectors (which probably you should be putting in and testing 2x a year)
    Leaving stuff in hallways (shoes, strollers, etc)
    Rules about painting/hanging things (a typical rule would be must be repainted white and holes repaired, please let people paint)
    I would not recommend rules about curtains matching unless you intend to provide them
    posted by jeather at 8:45 PM on October 16, 2016

    Both my parents and I (we're all ex-LLs now) allowed tenants to customize paint with the proviso that they had to return it to its original state before move-out.

    I had a landlord who had this rule, but verbally asked that we call him before we return it to white, because if he liked the new colors, he would just keep them and save us the trouble of repainting. I thought that was very friendly. (And, in the end, my art-student housemates and I had made this abstract mural on one of the walls and when he came by he said he LOVED it, and asked that we keep it as it is and he would probably use it as a selling point in the future.)

    Most tenants won't be art students, but you never know when you might get someone with a real eye for design.
    posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 8:46 PM on October 16, 2016

    I love when leases have phone numbers of apt owners/managers or whoever to call for urgent matters. Ex. is there a maintenence person on hand for when the toilet cracks and starts flooding gross water all over the floor?
    posted by book 'em dano at 8:51 PM on October 16, 2016

    BEDBUGS. You need to a) know what your legal requirements are with regard to bedbug remediation and b) communicate that. My dad is the landlord of a two family house and we just discovered one of his tenants is infested and self treated and now we have a couple thousand dollars worth of remediation ahead of us.
    posted by crankylex at 9:08 PM on October 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

    Some behavioral strategies:

    - When people create with their own hands, they tend to value things more. So, I'd try to not just allow, but encourage things like painting and hanging pictures, within reason, and given some guidelines for responsible practices (show them some info about using the proper style hanger for various weights, and how to best mask/cover when painting).

    - Make sure they know that reporting problems will be received graciously and gratefully, and that certain things that may seem minor to a novice apartment/house dweller -- like a tiny tiny water leak or a constant trickling sound from a toilet, or flickering for all the lights in one section of the place, or part of some wood turning color, or the stove being difficult to turn off -- are very serious for you, and you want to know about them. Make sure that channel of communication is open, and be good about listening.
    posted by amtho at 5:16 AM on October 17, 2016 [3 favorites]

    Save yourself! Hire a lawyer or contact/join the Apartment Association of the national home builders association. This is a field fraught with legal dangers and it is simply not worth it to you to leave yourself open to the 100's of pitfalls and liabilities on a federal, state and local level.
    posted by Lornalulu at 7:00 AM on October 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

    In my state mild and mildew addendum are very common.
    posted by vespabelle at 7:14 AM on October 17, 2016

    A thing that one of my landlords included on the lease, as an addendum, was what constituted cause for calling "emergency maintenance." All I remember from it was that if you only had one toilet, a clogged toilet counted as an emergency. I think there was a line about ceiling leaks, too. Oh, and the furnace. Call them immediately if the furnace is out.

    They were really annoyed the one time I waited until morning to report the toilet.
    posted by SMPA at 8:59 AM on October 17, 2016

    Not just bedbugs, but all pests. Who will be responsible for extermination, if the need arises?
    posted by Liesl at 11:17 AM on October 17, 2016

    Cooking Grease. Had a roommate who did a lot of cooking with a LOT of crisco when I was out of town for a while. Cabinets and others surfaces were covered with layer of mixture of grease and dust. Took days to clean.
    posted by Sophont at 8:31 AM on October 19, 2016

    « Older My Bump, My Little Belly Lump   |   I want to tweet my google searches Newer »
    This thread is closed to new comments.