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Residential Leases

Signing a lease is a serious commitment. A lease is a legal contract and should not be signed until completely read and understood.

Takoma Park Standard Lease Agreement

If you own rental housing property in Takoma Park, the use of the use of the City’s standard residential lease agreement is strongly encouraged.

Before Signing a Lease

If there is any information in a lease that is unclear, prospective tenants should clarify the meaning with the landlord before signing the lease. Ask if there are other “rules” of the rental facility, which can often be separate from the lease. Changes or additions to a lease should be initialed by both the tenant and the landlord on the lease or addendum. Once a lease is signed, it becomes a binding contract.

Inspect the rental unit before signing the lease. If repairs need to take place prior to occupying the rental unit, a written list of these repairs and the date they will be completed should be included as a lease addendum, dated and signed by the tenant and landlord.

If a security deposit is submitted to the landlord, a receipt should be obtained that indicates the payment is for the “security deposit.” Tenants should not submit a deposit or sign a lease until they are absolutely sure that the rental unit meets their expectations. Deposits and money submitted for the first month’s rent are often difficult to get back if the rental unit has been held off the market from the date the deposit is submitted.

Before a landlord signs a lease, they have the right to obtain a credit report on a prospective tenant. This is one of the most important rights a landlord has and can help in tenant selection. In accordance with federal, state and county fair housing laws, landlords must consider all applicants equally. The rental application should include authorization for the landlord to obtain a copy of a prospective tenant’s credit report and rental history.

Lease Requirements

All leases for rental facilities in Takoma Park must comply with specific requirements outlined in the City’s Landlord-Tenant Relations Law. These include the following:

  • Be offered for an initial term of at least one year, to be accepted at the option of the tenant, unless reasonable cause exists for offering another lease term. The lease must also include a provision stating the landlord’s responsibility to offer in writing, two months prior to the end of the lease, a renewal of the initial one year lease, unless the landlord or the tenant terminates the lease in accordance with a proper written notice to vacate.
  • Acknowledge the landlord’s responsibility to maintain the rental facility in accordance with the City’s Property Maintenance Code.
  • Have a provision requiring written receipts for all cash or money orders paid in person. Tenants who want a receipt for payments paid by mail should include a self-addressed stamped envelope with their payments.
  • Have a provision requiring that all security deposits be handled according to State law.
  • Permit the tenant to terminate the lease with at least one-month’s written notice to the landlord prior to the rent due date due to an involuntary change of employment which requires the tenant to re-locate outside of the Washington D.C. area, death of a major wage earner, unemployment, or for any other reasonable cause beyond the tenant’s control.
  • Identify all rent due and owing through the lease termination date must be paid by the tenant.
  • Inform the tenant of the City of Takoma Park’s Rent Stabilization law if the rental facility is subject to rent stabilization.
  • Stipulate that the rent may be increased only once in a 12 month period and the tenant must receive a two month written notice prior to the rent due date.
  • Inform that the transfer of utility costs to the tenant without implementing a corresponding reduction in the rent is unlawful.
  • Stipulate Entry and Notice to Vacate requirements and Air Conditioning limitations.
  • Have a provision entitling the tenant to unimpaired use and enjoyment of the premises.
The lease cannot include provisions that:
  •  Authorize the landlord to take possession of the rental unit or the tenant’s personal property without a judicial order from the court.
  • Charge a late fee of more than 5% of the monthly rent or allow for late fees to be charged for rental payments received within ten days of the rent due date.
  • Waive the landlord’s liability for damages resulting from the landlord’s negligence or violation of an applicable law.
  • Fail to comply with state, county and city ordinances or regulations pertaining to lead paint requirements, window air conditioners and monthly fee limitations, or contains any provision that is not authorized by the Takoma Park Landlord-Tenant Relations Law.
  • Require a tenant to give more than a one-month written notice of their intent to vacate the rental unit.

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