Residential Rental Agreement and the Law

on 03 May 2016

Do you know if your rental agreement is a restatement of the law or does it supplement the law? It probably does a little of both, and you really ought to know the difference.

For example, in Georgia, many leases include a merger clause. The lease probably does not need the clause as it is clear from statutory law that oral agreements are unenforceable without credible witness. But it still pays to have such a clause, because it helps set expectations for the tenant. In most cases, the tenant is probably unfamiliar with the law, but if the law is restated in the lease, then they may not feel compelled to go to court to discover that their defense is worthless. They can see in the mutual agreement that they have no case.  So restating the law can be a good idea, if you want to avoid dealing with lawsuits. 

Do you have a waiver clause? You do need this clause as it is not given in the statutes. This clause protects you when you act in such a way to appear to be waiving a requirement in the lease due to performance. For example, you do not charge a late fee two months in a row, and then decide to start enforcing the letter of the contract. Without the waiver clause, the tenant might assert an argument that you waived your right to demand it, based upon your demonstrated behavior. They would have a defendable argument.

Another very important clause is the severability clause. This clause protects you such that when one part of the lease is ruled out of compliance with law, the remainder of the lease remains enforceable. Without this clause, it could be ruled that the entire lease is unenforceable.

Know your lease and know the law. It might serve you well someday.

Daniel R. Wilhelm
Managing Broker
3 Options Realty, LLC.
Phone: 678-397-1282  

The author of this Blog is not an attorney. Nothing written should be construed as legal advice. Conclusions conveyed are outcomes based upon practical experience and should not be depended upon to be a common outcome of other similar circumstances.