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Utah Landlord Education: Aspects of a Strong Lease Agreement

Posted by james@uaahq.org on December 29th, 2015


One of the most important things you’ll need to do when you want to be a successful landlord or property manager is to have a professional rental agreement. It should not be something you find online or write yourself. It should be written by local attorneys and approved by your local apartment association. In Utah, that’s our rental agreement. The Utah Residential Rental Agreement is what we recommend here, and we’ll talk about some of the key ingredients.


Authorized Occupants

Explain the parties and authorized occupants in the rental agreement. The people signing the lease cannot move in anyone they want. You need to specify how long someone can stay without your consent before they become an unauthorized occupant. After five nights, for example, you might require them to be added to lease.

Rent and Fees

Any fees you’ll charge in addition to the rent need to be disclosed. You might have a service of notice fee or a month to month fee. That encourages renters to sign a new lease instead of going month to month. It can be hard to re-rent your property in slower winter months. There are a number of other fees that you can consider and your lease will lead you on that.

Be careful about clarifying the refundable portion of a deposit and the nonrefundable fee. For example, if you take a $1,000 deposit from a renter, $800 might be refundable and $200 won’t be. The courts consider all those deposits refundable, so if it’s a fee, call it a fee and not a deposit.

Entry Requirements

Your rental agreement needs a section on entry. This explains when you can enter and how much notice you need to give. The state of Utah has specific laws that say a 24 hour notice is required unless changed by contract. Therefore, you can include in the rental contract the right to enter if there is an emergency or suspected criminal activity. You can also stipulate that you will enter the property if you want to show the place to a potential buyer or to take care of repairs when the tenant is not home.  

Security Deposit

A good rental agreement also specifies the terms that need to be met in order to get the security deposit back. Many landlords in Utah love one of the components of our residential agreement. It says that security deposits can be used for damage. If there is damage to the property caused by the tenant, you can take that money immediately and the tenant must replenish the security deposit.

We recommend the Residential Rental Agreement and as a member of the association, you can get it for free online or on paper. Contact us at the Utah Apartment Association if you need any help, or attend one of our educational training sessions.
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