In general, I like to tell landlords that the local apartment association is the best way to go. Sure, it’s not free, but it’s also been approved by the legal community in your area. It is not a generic form that may contain language that cannot be enforced. For example, the rent control laws are different from Oakland to San Francisco, and we are both Bay Area cities.
Having said that, there are quite a few places that offer free forms to download. The first place to check would be your local apartment association. They will have all the forms you need and they will be legally correct for your location. Most of these forms are for sale and help keep you organized, but there are often some free forms available.
It is possible to cross most of the associations and select some good shapes. Our experience is that apartment associations will have the best landlord protection lease available and, given the nature of the landlord-tenant relationship, your money will be well spent. We also suggest that any tenant notices you may need when a problem cannot simply be talked about are also in the proper form. The wrong form can cost you another month, because if the exact procedure is not followed, you often have to start the process from scratch.
free form hunting
I used Google and searched for free landlord forms and then went to associations. There were other options, but I felt professional organizations would have the best ways.
Some examples of my search.
1. The SE Wisconsin Apartment Association had two usable forms for keeping records of smoke detectors. They also had free tenant notification forms, but they were incorrect for California.
2. Coastal Credit Corp offered free applications for tenants and rental or lease agreements
3. The Metro Denver Apartment Association has sample forms. You could get a good idea of what the form problems are and create your own.
4. Your Property Path has a score of free generic forms, from rental leases, parking and storage leases to other useful forms, all free
You can view sample forms and checklists; you can’t copy them without permission, but you can certainly create your own, being careful not to plagiarize or break copyright laws.
So it’s possible with a little work to get a pretty comprehensive book of forms that are ready to use and easily customizable. We like this approach as a lesson rather than a recommendation to use forms not approved by the legal community and the apartment association in your area.
Howard Bell for yourpropertypath.com