Is a template of a lease good enough to use to rent your property, or should you have a lawyer write your lease? This question is answered best by finding out what your risk tolerance is. There are various risks involved in using a template instead of having a lease written for you.
Not The Correct State Law
Leases affect the landlord-tenant relationship and how tenants can be evicted. These aspects are also affected by state law, and provisions in leases are limited by state law. If you are using a template, it might not be according to your state's laws. This is especially a risk when the template provider is either based in another state or is a national provider.
The law is always changing, and so too is the effectiveness of a lease. Every year, specific parts of the law change which can invalidate specific provisions of a lease. If a template has no publishing date, the entire lease could have been invalidated over time. If the template is four years old, it is likely that some part of the lease is outdated.
Certain terms are highly important in contracts such as leases. These terms are typically considered "boilerplate" provisions and are included at the end of a lease. Many templates do contain some boilerplate provisions. However, many of them also contain useless boilerplate terms and lack some of the important ones. The risk here is that you are trusting yourself to know what boilerplate terms are needed and what terms are unnecessary.
Filling In Performance Terms
This is the most critical part of a contract; what you have to do and what the other party has to do. When it comes to a lease, this includes paying the rent and the use of the property. Most people cannot write quality performance provisions or don't think of as many details within the provision as they should. A lot of people would not even include a provision in a lease about the permitted use of the property, they would simply allow the tenant to occupy the property in exchange for rent. The risk here is obvious; you must trust yourself to write the performance terms in enough detail and include everything you need in these terms. To explain the extent of the risk, almost every client I have had in my office requesting a contract review has had poorly written performance provisions.
Risk vs Cost
By this point you might think that you need a lawyer to write your lease, but you want to make sure it is worth the extra cost. To evaluate this, you need to understand what the risks may cost you. By accepting the risks and using a template, you may end up in a situation where you want a tenant out and can't evict them easily under your lease. To get them out, you will have to hire an attorney to find a way to evict them. Instead of paying a small fee for a better lease you end up paying thousands of dollars for litigation. Furthermore, you will have angry tenants that are likely to cause damage to the property until they are forced out.
Having a real estate lawyer help you with your lease is clearly the right choice. You can start the process today and easily get in touch with a real estate attorney. Simply contact me today. I am here to help.