A common and unfortunate reoccurring theme that we come across at Berlin Patten Ebling involves residential landlords using form lease agreements that they find on Google. The common misconception is that they are saving both time and money in legal fees by using these form agreements. While that misconception may occasionally be true, we often find that cutting corners in the beginning can lead to a heap of trouble in the long run.
As some of our clients have learned the hard way, a poorly drafted lease agreement can result in unnecessary and costly eviction proceedings that could have been avoided had the landlord taken the time and spent the money in getting representation in the preparation of their lease agreement.
For example, legislative updates to the Landlord Tenant Act happen all the time and it is difficult for the untrained eye to verify if the particular form their Google search yielded has the most up to date legislation incorporated therein. The following is a list of the most common issues we see in form residential lease agreements:
- Ambiguous language regarding rent terms with respect to due date, late fee provisions, etc.;
- Failure to include the state required statutory language regarding security deposits which can result in hefty penalties;
- Condition of the premises upon the commencement of the lease term not being properly documented and or described;
- Type, amount and verification of insurance requirements being met by tenant;
- Failing to require the landlord to be named as additional insured;
- Maintenance and repair obligations not being properly defined in the lease;
- Notice and cure periods being unnecessarily ambiguous;
- Terms of renewal options not setting forth any certain notice requirement;
- Prohibition on subletting; and
- Lease option provisions failing to clearly provide the terms and conditions of the option.
Given the complexity involved in drafting and preparing residential lease agreements, we find that the long term savings far outweigh the upfront cost of engaging your local real estate attorney. As always, should you have any questions regarding the foregoing, we urge you to consult with your local real estate attorney.
Berlin Patten Ebling, PLLC
Article Authored by Will McComb, Esq. firstname.lastname@example.org
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