Can I Draft My Own Lease?

Yes.  But you probably shouldn’t.  A lease is a contract and as such, if you sign it, you’re going to be held to it, assuming it is a valid lease or contract.  Drafting your own lease may seem like a tempting way to save money on an attorney up front, but if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing, you could face problems down the road.

A common mistake among first-time lease drafters is in drafting renewal terms.  Often, I see landlords using “automatic” renewals on crop, pasture, commercial and recreational leases.  Automatic renewals in and of themselves are not necessarily a bad idea, but you need to know how to stop a lease from automatically renewing.  How much time do you need to give your tenant before the automatic renewal happens? What kind of notice of non-renewal is sufficient?  Answers to these questions can mean the difference in being stuck with a problem tenant for another year and a successful non-renewal with a new tenant.

Security deposits are another lease-specific clause that landlords can get into trouble if choosing to draft their own lease.  Security deposits in Colorado must be returned within one month, or other period as the lease may provide.  However, the statute goes on to say that while it can be longer than one month, the period for return cannot exceed 60 days.  Landlords who rely on a lease term stating that they have 61 or more days to return a security deposit face lawsuits for return of the security deposit in addition to court costs for themselves and their tenant as well as triple the amount of the security deposit in damages.  Understanding the regulations on security deposits can save you thousands of dollars.  For more on security deposits, Click Here.

Landlords who are presented with a sale opportunity during a current lease term may find themselves out of luck if they fail to provide for such an occasion in their lease. Your lease should specify that if for any reason the property is sold, that the tenant agrees to absolve you of any liability incurred after that sale.  The lease will also help spell out the obligations of the tenant to the new owner in order to protect that owner’s prospective interest in the property and the continued obligation of rent.

All in all, having an attorney help draft a customized lease that you can use for years to come is the right business decision for your residential, commercial, agricultural or recreational lease.  Denver Attorney Nate Gilbert helps landlords draft, execute, enforce, and negotiate leases and lease terms in Colorado and Kansas and can help you get off on the right foot and avoid costly legal troubles down the road.