The dangers, when you download a rental contract on the Internet, come in many forms and forms. We`ve seen it all, from leases that have tried to rewrite the Texas Property Code (which you can`t do) to forgetting to cover some of the most basic circumstances you may encounter as an owner. Most of the downloaded leasing contracts we`ve read are well-intentioned, they only miss a few of the finer points and it`s those finer points that lose lawsuits. As we often teach our agents, a complaint is often not to prove that you did what you are being sued for, but rather to establish a profile of yourself as being negligent and ignorant of laws that concern real estate. By proving that you could have done so because of this negligence and lack of knowledge of the law, a lawyer is able to sow the seeds of doubt in your abilities and thus believe to a jury that you did what you are being sued for. Watch all the dramas of justice on TV, and you`ll see exactly what we think. Tenants also have rights. Trying to remove these rights by putting clauses in a lease agreement that will deny them will always end badly. Remember, when you are in front of a jury, you will be seen as the big, bad slumlord and the tenant is the right guy.
Everyone has a story about an owner they thought was mean and mean, and it`s those memories that lawyers are going to play in a lawsuit. It`s a fight uphill to begin with. If you have tried to remove these fundamental rights from a customer, you will lose. Whatever you do, make sure that if you download or write a crack yourself, you will actually get the signature. We have seen more than one case where an investor said he had a lease, but the tenant never really signed it. No signature? You don`t have a lease. We have also seen more than a few « handshake agreements » that are trying to be leases. The Texas law is clear – if it is not written, it is unenforceable. Get it in writing, make sure all parties sign and date and make sure you give copies to tenants. Also make sure you keep copies in a place you can find later if you need them. Saying, « I`ve forgotten where I put it » is not a very legal argument. The Internet can be an incredible source of information, but it can also have its downside.
When you download a rental agreement on the internet, you can submit to lawsuits you don`t know about or create a totally unenforceable rental agreement. We recommend that all homeowners read and familiarize themselves with the Texas Property Code, especially Chapter 92, which deals with rentals. Owning is not as easy as collecting a rental check each month, but if done correctly, it can be an excellent source of income and long-term wealth training. If you`re not sure what you`re doing, it can be expensive, and as this is a very safe area of real estate, the top priority should be proactively compiling your leases. The problem when downloading a rental is also whether you have received an updated rental or not. The Internet is a huge archive, and when they download something that was written in 1999, it won`t well keep the law in its current form in 2016. Laws change over time and the use of something that is obsolete or does not cover the newer laws can certainly put you in hot water. We`ve even seen cases where an owner has downloaded a Tar Residential Lease (which clearly states that it can only be used by members of the True Association – your use can invalidate them if you`re not a member), but they`ve downloaded an older form. Staying informed is part of what we do for our customers, so you need to make sure you do it too.