Can you create your own rental agreements using online forms?

A quick internet search reveals hundreds of free lease documents, and some are even commercial lease agreements.  Some are really short and simple, with easy fill-in-the-blanks and checkboxes.

The challenge is to determine which commercial property lease form is the right one for this specific transaction. Without proper guidance, only after the lease agreement is signed and in effect will tenant realize what the problems are with the “standard” lease form that was used.

An up-front investment in a customized negotiated commercial lease tailored to this particular lease transaction will show the sophistication and professionalism of the parties involved and set the tone for the relationship. There won’t be any confusion on what the lease says or what it means.  

The lease contract should be a coherent, consistent form that creates a meeting of the minds and a clear understanding of the rights and responsibilities of each of the parties. It’s hard to determine if this standard has been met by a form selected from a seemingly unlimited supply on the internet.  

There is a large amount of free content available, but it can be difficult to determine which one, if any, is the most correct version for the particular transaction underway. Investing in a lease lawyer before signing is a lot less expensive than being stuck in a bad business deal

If the lease agreement is cobbled together from different snippets from free forms, it is probably inconsistent, possibly contradictory, and might not even be enforceable. It’s also possible that the commercial lease agreement is missing important language or terms that the tenant doesn’t have to give up, but an online search won’t discuss the quality of the document, or what might be missing from it.

It’s easy to see what’s there, but a lot harder to see what’s missing, unless there’s a commercial lease lawyer involved, who knows where to look.

Nothing is worse than trying to figure out rights and remedies under a commercial lease contract during a dispute, so a good lease agreement will state what the responsibilities are of each party, and how to enforce the fulfillment of those responsibilities. A properly drafted commercial real estate lease will anticipate common areas of contention and will clearly delineate each party’s rights and responsibilities.

No one should wonder, who is responsible for this or how is it enforced? If the lease agreement doesn’t address the problem, then everyone will have to look to the law, and the lawyers will need to get involved, because they are the ones with legal training to interpret and apply the law.

Online forms are freely available, but it may not be the right one to protect the interests of the parties involved in the transactions.

I hope this information has been helpful.  I’m Jenna Zebrowski, and I’m a real estate lease lawyer, but I’m not your lawyer yet.  This information is provided not as specific counsel, but as general information to help you make an informed decision about your commercial lease.  Remember, hiring a lease lawyer in often much cheaper than getting in a bad business situation.  Give me a call if I can help (817) 841-5762.


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