Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saving pdf tenancy agreements and forms

The Landlord-Law tenancy agreements are all in pdf format. This has always been the case, for a number of reasons. Most people can access and use pdfs whatever sort of computer they have via the free Adobe Reader (which you can download from www.adobe.co.uk); they are easy (relatively) for me to create; and I can protect the template via the Adobe security system.

However a few landlords have complained that they cannot save the information in the fields. This is of course quite true, but it is nothing to do with me it is down to how the Adobe software works. If you complete a form with form fields using the free reader, when you close or save the document, the information on the 'fields' will be lost. You therefore have to be very careful to ensure that you have printed out sufficient copies of your document before closing.

If you have the Adobe Acrobat software this is not a problem. Acrobat saves the information in the fields, so you can open the document up again later, either to amend the information or print it out again. If you have Adobe Acrobat Pro as I have, you can even change other peoples forms (so long as they have not protected them). However this software is pretty expensive at about £3-400 plus, and most small landlords will not want to pay this. Indeed many of them will be quite happy with just printing the form out, and will not want to store it electronically. After all it is the paper copy with the tenants' signature on, which you will need in court.

However if you do want to save the wording, there is an answer. You need to 'print' the form, using special software. This software creates a new pdf document exactly the same as the document on the screen, so it will include all the information you have typed into the 'fields'. You won’t be able to change anything on this new document though, the fields won’t be there, just the wording you put in them. This could be very useful – for example if you want to email a tenancy agreement over to a tenant.

Adobe has this feature with its own Acrobat software – it used to be called the distiller although it may be called something else now (I am out of touch with what they do). I used to use it all the time (for sending court forms over to clients for them to sign), but then after I had some work done on my computer earlier this year it suddenly started producing a load of squares instead of text. I spoke to my computer people, who did not know how to fix it, but the computer man suggested that instead I use this free software called CutePDF Writer. It worked a treat and I have used it ever since.

So if you are a user of forms with form fields (preferably from the Landlord-Law website!) and want to save a copy of what you have done, but do not want to splash out on the Acrobat program, I would suggest you give it a try.

(Needless to say however, I make no warranties regarding it, and if it trashes your machine I am not liable!! But then I would say that, I am a lawyer.)

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2 comments:

Judas said...

Hi Tessa,

I am working with a friend of mine for UK Landlords. It will be great if together we can make a list of pdfs available on one page, which will help the landlords. You can create a page on your website and I will forward you all the important pdf urls. In this way the landlords will be able to see all the pdfs together. Also we can have help section there. I am bit of a techy guy.

Tessa said...

Note sure entirely what you mean here. The pdfs I was talking about are on my web-site service (such as my tenancy agreements), but you need to be a Landlord-Law member to access them. They are not open to the general public.

As a solicitor I would always caution landlords from downloading and using free documents from the internet. They may be all right, then again they may not. If you are not an expert in the field, how can you tell the difference?