How many times did you parents say, “My house, my rules” when you complained about having to eat your vegetables before they would give you any dessert?  To some extent, the law gives the owners of residential properties the right to make their own rules about what people can and cannot do while on the premises, but there are limits to how much you can micromanage what tenants do in properties that they rent from you.  It is perfectly legal for adults to smoke cigarettes and to keep dogs and cats as pets, but plenty of apartment buildings have “no smoking” and “no pets” rules, and their landlords have the right to make these rules.  Where is the line between fair rules for tenants and draconian rules?  An Alabama eviction lawyer can help you figure out whether the terms of your lease agreement are enforceable.

The Case of the Vegetarian Landlady and the Carnivorous Tenant

This summer, a woman who rents out the basement of her house posted a question on Reddit about how to handle a dispute with her tenant.  The lease agreement stated that the tenant could not bring any non-vegetarian food products into the basement apartment.  One time, the landlady saw the tenant carrying groceries into the apartment and confronted her about her non-vegetarian groceries.  She told the tenant to discard the meat instead of bringing it into the apartment, citing the lease agreement, but the tenant refused, saying that she was unaware of the “no meat” clause.  The community said that the clause in the lease agreement was unfair and probably unenforceable.  What right do landlords have to dictate what their tenants can eat?

Nonstandard Clauses: Practical Advice for Landlords

Most lease agreements are more alike than they are different; the provisions do not differ very much from one lease arrangement to another.  The tenants must pay a specified amount of rent on time.  The tenants must not damage the property or engage in illegal activities on the premises.  The landlords are responsible for conducting maintenance and repairs to the property within a reasonable timeframe.  Anything outside the basic provisions that you find in most lease agreements is a nonstandard clause.  Landlords have the right to set their own rules, but if your lease agreement contains any nonstandard clauses, you should point them out to the tenants verbally before the tenants sign the agreement.  If you have any questions about whether a nonstandard clause in the lease agreement you are about to sign is legal or enforceable, the best thing to do is to ask a lawyer before you sign the agreement.

Let Us Help You Today

Even though you will probably have to wait until after the COVID-19 pandemic subsides to kick out a tenant who continually brings forbidden items into the apartment, it is never too soon to talk to an experienced Alabama eviction lawyer about problems with your tenants.  Contact Cloud Willis & Ellis for help with your case.