Landlord and Tenant: Lease Terms

I just got back from county court where the county has finally updated the 1970's carpet and wood panels on the walls and judge's bench. Thank goodness the pipes on the second floor burst and flooded the courtroom. Otherwise the updates never would have been made. But that is not what this post is about.

Lease Agreement "Maximum Occupancy" Clause
While I was in court this morning the judge had to deal with several landlord/tenant law disputes arising out of lease agreement ambiguities. One of the disputes involved a lease agreement legal form where the landlord did not include a "maximum occupancy" clause in the agreement. Apparently the tenant had leased a 1000 sq ft, two bedroom home and had thirteen people (four adults and nine children) living in the home. Without a "maximum occupancy" clause the judge did not allow the landlord to evict the tenant unless the landlord could show the additional people were damaging the house. He couldn't.

A standard "Maximum Occupancy" Clause should look something like this:

"MULTIPLE AND MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY: It is expressly understood that this Lease is between the Owners and each signatory individually and severally. In the event of default by any one signatory, each and every remaining signatory shall be responsible for timely payment of rent and all other provisions of this Lease. The signatories and their minor children shall be the sole occupants of the Premises."

Lease Agreement "Lawn Maintenance" Clause
Another dispute arose out of a rental agreement that failed to state whether the landlord or tenant was responsible for lawn maintenance. That case was also resolved in favor of the tenant. The reason: the landlord drafted the contract and standard contract law says that contracts are to be construed against the drafter. The landlord was the drafter.

A final dispute arose when the landlord tried to enter the rental home and the tenant stuck a gun in his face. The judge evicted the tenant, issued a restraining order against both parties and told the parties to file criminal complaints against each other (unlawful entry against the landlord and assault against the tenant).

An interesting day in court to say the least.
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