Copying and Pasting a Lease – A surefire way for Idaho landlords to lose money and end up in court!
In my years of practice in Idaho landlord-tenant law, I have seen so many bad leases. It’s the main reason I decided to focus my practice exclusively on helping landlords. I hated seeing my landlord-clients’ properties and bank accounts damaged when they used a poorly-drafted lease.
The main reason so many leases end up in court is that wonderful tool that we all use to draft and edit documents – copy and paste! How did we live without it? I can’t imagine what it must have been like to draft a new document from scratch on a typewriter every time you needed one. I suppose that’s why offices used to have such large secretarial pools, à la “Mad Men.”
I’ve found two ways that my landlord clients have used copy & paste to their great regret. First, each time they rent their property, they just copy & paste their previous lease into a new lease for their new tenants. They keep doing this over and over for many years, and they never check to see if the law has changed, or if information from past tenants is surviving through later versions of the lease.
Second, landlords find form leases on the web, or they ask for leases from friends, and then they just plug in their tenants’ information. Again, this is such a bad idea. They have no idea where these leases come from or whether they are based on current law. Typically, my landlord clients never notice any problem with their leases until they are faced with a bad tenant.
I recently helped a landlord evict her tenant for failure to pay rent (the tenant also painted every wall a different color and we suspected she was using drugs). My client had copied & pasted from an old lease that she had signed years ago when she was a renter. Of course, she did not notice that the lease was based on California law and that it kept referring to paragraphs that didn’t exist!
We eventually evicted this tenant, but only after much back & forth with the tenant and the judge as to the enforceability of the lease. This cost my client much more in attorney fees than she would have ever paid if she had hired an attorney to review her lease before she had her tenant sign it.
Don’t fall into the copy & paste trap! You should at least have a lawyer review the lease you want to use before your tenant signs it. Contact Us today and we’ll be happy to help – as always, for a reasonable, up-front fee!
– Amanda Breen, Attorney at Law
Amanda Breen Law, PLLC, PO Box 3898, 371 Walnut Ave. N., Ketchum, Idaho 83340
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