LegalZoom: The Landlord’s Money-Saving Cheatsheet
Renting out property has long been an excellent way of making money. While the pandemic created a lot of trouble for landlords and tenants, with life going back to normal, landlords are once again in a position to succeed. For many landlords, however, there is one area which is both confusing and frustrating. That is, when it comes to legal matters. Since renting is a legal agreement, legal services are a consistent requirement.
The good news is that legal services no longer have to be unaffordable. LegalZoom in 2022 is providing landlords with a way of getting legal help without having to speak to an actual lawyer. Their services include documents that every landlord needs, with the ability to customize templates to fit specific purposes.
Here’s how it works.
What is LegalZoom?
LegalZoom is a company that aims to democratize access to legal services. Traditionally, while everyone requires legal services at certain times in their lives, getting help has been incredibly expensive. An hour of a lawyer’s time can cost hundreds of dollars.
LegalZoom allows you to avoid such fees by providing technology that does the work for you. Instead of paying a lawyer hundreds of dollars for a consultation, you pay for specific documents. You can even get bundles that include a number of legal documents.
How Does LegalZoom Help Landlords?
Every rental agreement needs to be legally sound. You can write your own lease, but by doing so you leave room for loopholes and may make mistakes. You may end up on the wrong end of a dispute simply because you were not clear about what your tenants can and cannot do.
LegalZoom helps landlords by providing a lease maker that uses an algorithm to create a watertight lease. You input your specific requirements, as well as the state where your rental property is, and LegalZoom does the rest. You get a specified lease that covers all the necessary ground according to the laws of your state.
If you don’t like the sound of relying on technology to do the job entirely, you can get legal advice for a small monthly fee from an actual attorney.
How Much Does This Cost?
Whereas an hour with a lawyer will cost you hundreds of dollars, you can get a LegalZoom lease made for just $29. This price provides you a personalized lease with any necessary state-specific disclosure forms. You also get forms to help manage your rentals and can make changes to your lease for a week. Their more expensive package, at $49, allows you to make changes to your lease for six months.
If you do want an attorney to look over your documents, you can get legal advice for just $9.99 a month. In other words, even if you get a human attorney involved, you will still be paying significantly less than you would for the cheapest independent lawyer.
What Are The Downsides?
Since you're primarily relying on technology to create your lease, there are disadvantages compared to actually sitting with a lawyer. The algorithm may not be able to help you with clauses that are very specific to your rental property. You may also struggle to input certain requirements because you're not sure about the phrasing.
That said, because you get to revise your lease with the help of the software, you can avoid any major issues. If something does not look right or sound right, you can find a way to reword it.
Another downside is that you don’t get the benefit of advice regarding specific issues to look out for when it comes to tenants in your area. Attorneys have dealt with many landlords and will know what kind of issues come up often. Of course, the usefulness of this advice depends on the attorney and it is unlikely to be worth the hundreds of dollars you would spend on a consultation.
Does LegalZoom Provide Other Services?
The main service LegalZoom provides to landlords is in creating leases. Aside from leases, they excel at creating wills, power of attorney documents, and estate planning. These are all services that most people need at some point in their lives, but millions of Americans go without them.
What LegalZoom and similar services are doing is showing that legal documents do not have to be expensive. Most people do not require anything complex from their leases, wills, and other documents. They simply need their requirements written down with the proper legalese so as to avoid confusion and potential loopholes.
The reality is that lawyers should not be charging hundreds of dollars to provide services that a computer can do. The only reason people continue using attorneys for these services is that law can be intimidating. They assume that only certain people know what they're doing, because they spent years studying, when in most cases, the lawyer consulted won’t write the documents themselves but will have an assistant (or computer) do the job.
LegalZoom can save you money that you would have spent on attorneys, while ensuring that your tenants cannot find ways around paying you or taking responsibility for property damage. It is a money-saving cheatsheet that gives you access to the tools every landlord should have readily available.