Online rental forms offer landlords the rare opportunity to save money and at the same time, do an even better job managing their rental property investments. You will want to get the best value for your money by following some of the guidelines suggested below:
- Always start the process with a current, state-specific landlord form from a reputable provider. Avoid using forms that others have posted on the Internet. It is too difficult to know whether such a form has been properly vetted, or if the language in that form has even been challenged in a landlord tenant dispute. Also, avoid forms you may have used for properties located in other states. Generic forms, often found in big box office stores, are not suited for the specific needs of landlords.
- Insert your specific information into the form. The best way to handle the tenant’s information is to pull it directly off the rental application.
Now, read through the entire document, without being interrupted. Make sure you have filled in all the applicable blanks. Also, look for any contradictory information. This will be problematic if you need to enforce provisions of the lease agreement in court. Because the landlord drafts the lease agreement, any problems with the language will be construed in favor of the tenant.
- Show the completed rental form to a landlord attorney. This person should be licensed in the same state as the property. It’s preferable to choose an experienced attorney familiar with city and county law. Asking an attorney to review the rental application, lease, or other landlord form makes good sense, and it is usually far less expensive than having a lawyer draw up the form.
- Make the changes the lawyer recommends. Do not make modifications to that document on a case-by-case basis unless you run it past an attorney each time. Keep a clean copy of your original rental form as a template. Make an extra copy of the lease to provide to the tenant. You’ll want them to have a copy for their own reference.
- Some leasing forms will require a tenant’s signature. Even though rental forms can be written online and negotiated on the phone or by email, it’s still important that you have a valid signature. Signatures should be at the bottom. If certain terms need to be emphasized, have the tenant initial next to that provision in the lease before they sign. It is helpful to print the tenant’s name directly below the signature line, so they understand that you want them to sign their full legal name.
- Remember to update your leasing documents to reflect changes in the law. To accomplish this, speak with your attorney to see if they offer an email alert with changes.