Lease Drafting and Review


For landlords who have leases or tenant-at-will agreements that are poorly written, or landlords who don't use written agreements at all, danger lurks.  Similarly, for landlords who are ill-informed about the law or who knowingly chose to flout it, harsh consequences can and often do result.  By far and away, the best medicine for countering the risk imposed by property ownership is to have a professionally-drafted lease prepared by an experienced lawyer.

The irony is that most landlords rarely look at a lease after it is executed.  Indeed, the lease only becomes an issue when it is either set to expire or when a dispute with the tenant arises.  It if is the latter, the landlord will need to have his or her fingers crossed that the lease in question appropriately addresses the problem.  If the matter spills over into court, the terms of the lease will be paramount in deciding who comes out on top.  This is why it is so critically important to have a lease that is both comprehensive and clear.  If the lease is either short-sighted or ambiguous, the chances are good that a landlord could suffer.  Worse yet, if a landlord doesn't use a written agreement all, as is the case with many residential tenancies, a landlord takes an even greater gamble.  By not reducing terms of the agreement to writing, a landlord has automatically relegated himself or herself to a credibility contest with the tenant, or in other words, a classic he-said-she-said scenario results.  No landlord wants to be in this position.

Aside from having a well-drafted lease, it is crucial that a landlord have knowledgeable counsel to advise on the law.  In fact, a landlord's failure to strictly abide by the law governing residential tenancies can have serious ramifications.  In Massachusetts, for example, a landlord must pay the tenant triple damages and attorney's fees and costs if the landlord neglects for any reason to place the tenant's security deposit in a separate, interest-bearing account.  In this area of the law, a landlord would be wise to heed the latin expression "ignorantia legis neminem excusat," meaning ignorance of law excuses no one. 

D. Baker Law Group, P.C. performs the vital function of advising clients on commercial and residential landlord-tenant matters.  Attorney Baker drafts commercial and residential leases (and tenant-at-will agreements), and where necessary, reviews and improves leases previously drafted by others.  In addition, for residential tenancies in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, we offer a "landlord package" which contains all of the most up-to-date notices and disclosures along with easy-to-read instructions on how to use them. 


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