Looking for a Free Lease Agreement?

by : Kevin Kiene

Well, you're not alone -- not by a long shot. Every day, thousands of value-minded and pressed-for-time landlords and property managers scour the back roads and alleyways of the information superhighway, looking for a free basic rental agreement that they can quickly print out, fill in, and hand over to their new tenants along with the keys to the rental unit.

If you search long enough, you'll probably be able to find a free or cheap generic lease online. But before you fill it out, take a minute to really mull over the possible consequences. Remember the old adage that says, 'You get what you pay for'? Well, if you settle for a generic free lease agreement, you might just get more than you bargained for -- much, much more.

A lease is a legal contract that sets forth the terms of the agreement between you and your tenant. Basically, you're relying on this document to establish the guidelines that will define your entire relationship with your tenant.

The free lease agreements that are a dime a dozen online don't cover much more than the contact information for the landlord and tenants. If you're lucky, you might find one that has a space for the rent amount and due date. In short, these 'free' leases typically leave a lot to be desired.

Over the last several decades, the courts have become increasingly friendly to the cause of tenants' rights. Many of the landlords who are hauled in front of a judge by a disgruntled tenant -- or who file a claim to collect back rent from a deadbeat renter -- are winding up out of luck. When in doubt, more and more courts are automatically siding with the tenant.

When you rely on a lease that is vague, brief, or incomplete, you are putting your property, your investment, and your entire business at risk. In legal terms, a contract that's skimpy or insufficient isn't worth the paper that it's written on.

The kind of generic free lease agreements that you can find online are typically chock-full of grey areas, omissions, contradictions, and even outright errors. In other words, they're not exactly the kind of thing that's going to sway the judge in your favor if you wind up in court. If it's not specifically spelled out in the lease, chances are good that the judge will end up siding with your tenant.

Let's face it -- to stay profitable, landlords and property managers have to constantly be on the lookout for ways to save money. That means holding out for sales at home improvement stores, opting for the mid-grade paint and fixtures, and keeping an eye out for reputable contractors that won't charge an arm and a leg.

What it shouldn't mean, however, is skimping on your lease agreement. There are a lot of smart ways for you to save money, but this isn't one of them. Think of it as an investment -- the money you spend now on a comprehensive, legally binding lease agreement could save you thousands of dollars down the road.