Online legal forms are
easy to find,
easy to access,
From a prenuptial to a power-of-attorney, sales and closing documents to landlord leases, virtually any form you have heard of, and many you have not, are available online.
But will online forms work for you?
The answer is “yes”, if you know how to use them. First, you should understand the laws behind the forms.
Tenant rentals are regulated by the states, meaning the specific state where the property is located.
Generally, there is continuity in the laws between one state and the next. For example, every state allows similar protections for tenants and similar rights for landlords, like the right to evict a problem tenant. However, some states have there own unique variations in landlord-tenant laws.
These variations are crucial to include in your documents. Provisions in a lease that violate the law are at the very least unenforceable. At worst, these illegal provisions make the entire lease unenforceable.
Federal laws may also apply in your situation.
These can include things like fair housing and discrimination. It is not always clear whether the federal law applies in any specific situation.
In addition, cities and counties can also pass laws governing your rental – zoning ordinances and building codes are common examples.
Online legal forms that are written for a specific state and by someone with knowledge of the applicable laws are a cost-saving tool, but you still need to consult with a lawyer. It is usually much cheaper to have your form reviewed than it is to have someone draft it from scratch.
Here’s a checklist to make your online forms work for you.
1) Start with a current, state-specific form from a reputable provider. Avoid forms posted on the Internet, forms given to you by individuals, especially if from a different state, and forms marked “standard”, found in stores.
2) Describe your specific circumstances to a landlord-tenant attorney (licensed in the same state) and have your document reviewed.
3) Make the changes the lawyer recommends, but 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 form.
4) Find a way to receive updates regarding changes in the law. The lawyer may provide this service via email or newsletters, or you may be able to sign up for a subscription update service from your online forms provider. You can also purchase updated forms periodically to compare to the old ones.
It’s easy to educate yourself on legal terms, but use a Legal Dictionary, not a standard one to understand words that might be unfamiliar. AAOA sponsor US Legal Forms offers a low cost ‘ask-an-attorney’ help line, and a drafting service for specialty clauses. However, they cannot offer you individual legal advice.
Our paid members receive 10% US Legal Forms. Take a tour of our Forms page. Many are free!
Check out our series How to Draft a Solid Lease Agreement.
American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services related to your commercial housing investment, including real estate forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at www.joinaaoa.org.
To subscribe to our blog, click here.