Every landlord should have a good set of forms to use for issuing notices to tenants. The best place to get them is usually a landlord trade association. A few of the more prominent associations include the Manufactured Housing Communities of Oregon (MHCO), Multi-Family NW, and the Rental Housing Alliance - Oregon. The legal publishing company of Stevens-Ness also provides a good selection of some basic landlord forms.
However, a form is only as good as the person filling it out. If a form is filled out incorrectly, a landlord risks losing an eviction case to a tenant. This means that not only will the tenant be allowed to stay on the rental premises, but you would also likely be held responsible for the tenant’s attorney fees and court costs. These fees and costs can run several thousand dollars or more. And you have to start over with evicting the tenant.
The best way to ensure a legally enforceable form is to have a knowledgeable landlord attorney spend 5 minutes reviewing it before you serve it on the tenant. It all goes back to the old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If an attorney reviews your form before you use it, you immediately and significantly reduce the chances that you will lose an eviction case.
After you or your manager become comfortable filling out your forms, it is not as necessary to involve your attorney. Basic forms – if filled out correctly – typically present no problems later. However, it is always wise to have your attorney review eviction notices, particularly for-cause notices. For-cause notices are typically the ones most challenged by tenants and their attorneys.
The basic forms every landlord should have start with tenancy application and move-in forms. With proper training, these forms are easily filled out and used during the tenant application process. Landlords should also have a good rental agreement form. While basic forms from a trade association are fine for some landlords, others prefer custom made agreements with specific provisions particular to their rental properties. An attorney should be consulted when preparing specific rental agreements.
Landlords will also need eviction notice forms. These typically include: (1) 72-hour rent nonpayment forms, (2) 30-day or 60-day no cause notice forms, (3) 30-day for cause eviction forms, and (4) 24-hour eviction notice forms. There are other eviction forms, but these are the most used.
A final caveat on forms is that you should never purchase forms online or elsewhere that are not specifically tailored for Oregon law. Such forms are typically missing provisions that are either required by Oregon law or are beneficial to landlords under Oregon law.