|by Mel Metts
What kind of lease do you use? No preprinted lease is perfect, and I’ve
made a number of my own modifications over the years. Here are some that
you should consider.
"Charge a single late fee instead of a daily late
Why? Judges are now limiting awards to a single late charge.
If you’ve been charging $5 per day and the tenant is 30 days late, the
judge may award you $5 instead of the $150 you expected.
"Convert your late fee into additional rent instead
of calling it a late fee.
Why? By converting the late charge into
additional rent, you can sue and collect in court. Do not list
late fees separately on the Five Day Notice or the Complaint and
Summons. Instead, include the additional rent in the total Amount
How to word your lease – ADDITIONAL RENT: Rental amount
shall increase by $xx.xx if not paid by the [first] day of each month.
"Require that all late rental payments shall be paid by
cash, money order or other certified funds.
(1) Prevents the
tenant from buying time by paying with an NSF check. (2) Gives you peace
of mind if a tenant makes payment after receiving a Landlord’s Five
Days’ Notice. (3) If paid in certified funds, tenant cannot provide a
backdated check and claim it was delivered earlier than it was.
"Limit legal expense reimbursements.
places a realistic cap on a claim for legal fees, so you are not writing
a blank check if you end up in a legal action.
How to word your lease
– LEGAL EXPENSES: The losing party shall pay all costs, expenses
and attorney fees, not to exceed [$1,000] incurred or expended by the
prevailing party due to the losing party’s breach of the covenants and
agreements of this Agreement.
"Stop accepting personal checks for rent payments after receiving
two NSF rent checks.
How to word your lease – In the
event that two of tenant's checks are dishonored during any twelve month
period, then tenant shall be required to make all future payments via
money order or cashier's check.
"Your lease should ensure that you have access to the
rental unit upon reasonable notice.
Why? Illinois law does
not address this, so you have no Statutory right to enter without a
lease clause. Note that some municipalities address right-of-entry in
their landlord-tenant ordinances.
How to word your lease – Tenant
shall allow Landlord and his agents free access to the apartment at all
reasonable times, to exhibit, repair or inspect the same, and shall
allow Landlord and his agents to display "For Rent" notices on
"Clarify damages the tenant is obligated to repair,
including broken windows.
How to word your lease – Tenant shall make all necessary repairs to
the premises whenever damage to the same has occurred or repairs are
required, and shall replace all broken glass and fixtures. Tenant is
responsible for any damage to appliances and fixtures, including
refrigerator damage by sharp objects during defrost, and toilet stoppage
caused by flushing other than toilet tissue.
"Evict if tenant’s utilities are disconnected.
Why? To prevent resulting damages from tenants’ use of candles,
space heaters, electric hotplates, etc. as well as frozen pipes.
to word your lease – Tenant shall at all times maintain the temperature at a minimum
of 45 degrees and shall be responsible for all damages resulting from
the failure to do so. Tenants whose utilities are not connected within three
days of lease inception, or are disconnected at any time for
non-payment, are in violation of this lease, and are subject to
"Use a Crime-free Lease
Why? It empowers you to evict if a tenant or guest
is arrested for criminal activity on your property. Some communities,
including the Village of Round Lake Beach, now require the use of an
You can download either form from www.melmetts.com/free_forms.htm
January 25, 2007