The Critical Checklist Before Signing Your Lease To Avoid Liability

Avoid Liability When Signing Your Lease
Avoid Liability When Signing Your Lease

Not all renters know that, by state laws, landlords are required to provide certain information about their rental properties to potential renters. All renters, including you, have the legal right to learn about the property’s status and history before signing a lease. The majority of disclosures focus on concerns that may have an impact on occupants’ health and safety.

Make sure these landlord disclosures take place before you sign a lease agreement. They can go a long way in protecting your tenant’s interests during your tenancy.

State Disclosures

State Disclosures
State Disclosures

Each state requires landlords to provide prospective tenants with certain disclosures. Notification regarding the registered sex offender database, ordnance information and location, the existence of mold, pest infestations, the plan to destroy the building, and specifics on the property’s smoking policy are among the state-required disclosures. These state disclosures commonly include:

Landlord’s contact information

Landlords must always provide potential tenants with their full name, phone number, and address, as well as payment instructions. This information must be provided whenever a new lease, including renewals if requested by the tenant, or a new owner or manager of the rental property is established.

Registered sex offenders

All leases must notify renters of the availability of the state’s registered sex offender database, which includes offenders’ names and addresses. Landlords are not obligated to notify prospective renters of any local offenders registered on the database, only that it exists.

Bedbugs and how to report them

Landlords are required to educate renters with broad information on bedbugs, such as what they look like and when they normally emerge, and to highlight the necessity of notifying the landlord in writing of any suspected infestations. If a potential renter requests it, landlords must report any bedbug infections from the previous two years.

Local Disclosures

A landlord may also be required to comply with disclosure laws in the city or county where the rental property is located. Landlords, for example, must comply with additional disclosure laws in many rent-controlled areas. Landlords should check with their city or county to see if local disclosure laws apply.

Information on lead-based paint

Landlords of homes built before 1978 are required by federal law to include a warning statement in leases regarding lead-based paint and its potential dangers. They must also provide tenants with an information leaflet regarding the dangers of lead-based paint. On a national level, this is the sole disclosure that is necessary.

Any death on the property 

Landlords are required to notify any death on the rental property in the previous three years. They are not, however, obligated to reveal the reason for death. They are also not required to inform prospective renters if the previous resident died from AIDS or had HIV.

Drug contamination

Landlords must notify prospective renters if the premises was formerly used as a drug lab and are still polluted with methamphetamine or fentanyl, necessitating cleaning. Tenants must sign a declaration acknowledging receipt of this notification. Tenants have the right to terminate their rental agreement if they were not warned of drug contamination and later discover it.

Shared utilities

Because some rental apartments share gas and electric meters, it is impossible to track individual usage. If this is the case, landlords must inform prospective renters ahead of time that they would be sharing meters with other units. Furthermore, landlords must reveal their method for fairly sharing utility expenses.

Failure to Disclose

Failure to Disclose

Failure to make proper state disclosures constitutes a violation of several federal, state, and local statutes and health codes. For failing to provide proper disclosures in a timely manner, landlords may face fines, penalties, and criminal charges, depending on the impact on the tenant’s health and safety. Renting a house doesn’t have to be so expensive this September with our carefully compiled and constantly updated list of house rental offers.