Tools of the Trade – Lease Agreements and Other Forms
This article is Part 4 in a multi-part series revolving around the Tools of the Trade that any landlord needs to be aware of and probably use. In this series, I will cover the following topics and probably throw in a few others along the way:
The required forms will vary from state to state; this can include such documentation such as proximity to any known military munitions depots or ranges, lead paint disclosures, or methamphetamine use disclosures. The absence of any of this documentation, whether intentional or neglect can invalidate your lease agreement with your tenant.
Seems a little scary, huh? Not really, at least once you know where to look for proper information. There are many resources available to you that can provide some, if not all of the forms that you will need for your situation and state at either no cost or low cost. Please keep in mind that not all lease agreements are equal. Stick to a source that is well known as that will help to ensure the documents were created by a knowledgeable attorney and not some fly-by-night landlord that put a lease agreement together 30 minutes prior to meeting with their tenant.
Your goal is to attempt to cover as many situations as possible through wording of the agreement all while making it easy to understand by everyone involved. Remember, you will need to be able to answer any questions about the lease agreement that your tenant has, so you must be able to understand it yourself! You also do not want to be in a situation where your lease agreement states the dates that your tenant will be occupying the property but does not outline the amount of rent, when it is due, or doesn’t address late payments.
So where can you a lease agreement?
Since I am located in California I stick with C.A.R. LR, the California Association of Realtors Residential Lease. This form can be a little pricey, at $116.50 for a 20-pack, it gives me some piece of mind knowing that it has been reviewed by attorneys and has stood up in court over the years. In addition to this lease agreement, you might also need form FLD, a lead paint disclosure if the property was built prior to 1978. The Lead Paint disclosure will cost you $55.90 for 25. Again, a little on the pricey side, but in my opinion it is well worth the cost.
A much cheaper approach would be to use products from Nolo. Now I have not personally used their Lease Agreement myself, I have reviewed the contents and it seems to cover everything the C.A.R. Forms do, but for $34.99 or about 1/5th of the price. Nolo offers all of the state specific details that you will need, plus it allows for easy modification or addition of anything specific that you might need. If I didn’t have more C.A.R. forms left, I would definitely be using Nolo!
Lastly, you might find yourself walking the isles of your local office supply store and stumble upon a residential lease. Sure, at $10.95 the price sure seems great, but they are VERY generic. They tend to cover the basics and come with some decent documentation on how to fill it out, but there isn’t room for flexibility. Stay away unless you are flat broke and can’t spare the $34.95 for the Nolo product!Questions? Comments? Contact DIY Property Manager!