Landlords have a lot of responsibilities, from screening potential tenants to scheduling maintenance and repairs. On top of that, they have to deal with a fair share of paperwork. Whether it’s rental applications, security deposits, vendor invoices, or lease agreements, keeping important documents organized can help you:
- Comply with your local landlord-tenant laws
- Protect your investment in case of legal disputes.
- File your taxes more easily.
- Comply with privacy laws.
- Promote transparency with tenants.
If you don’t know what documents you should keep on file, don’t worry! The experts at Home Choice Property Management have you covered. In this article, we’ll go over the essential documents every landlord should keep on file.
1. Rental Applications
Every tenant interested in your rental should file an application form. This will provide you with basic information about each applicant, from their name and contact information to their employment status and rental history.
During this period, you should request their authorization to conduct a credit report and background check. All this information, along with the screening process, will help you determine whether to qualify or deny an applicant.
You must keep all this information safely on file, including those of rejected applicants. After all, this can serve as proof that you follow fair housing laws when selecting a tenant, in case an applicant contests your decision. The length of time you must keep these documents on file will depend on your local laws.
2. Tenant Screening Documentation
After reviewing their initial application form, you must screen tenants thoroughly. This should include running credit, employment status, rental history, and background checks, as well as contacting references and interviewing the applicants.
All this information should be stored safely during and after the screening process. The same applies to pet screenings and renewal screening checks.
3. Signed Lease Agreement
A lease or rental agreement is a legally binding document that includes essential information such as the terms of the lease, price of rent, and tenant responsibilities regarding property upkeep.
Renting out your home without a lease is never recommended, as it can leave you vulnerable to risks such as property damage, holdover tenants, and evictions. So, before giving over the keys to your rental, you must make sure tenants understand the terms of the lease.
You should keep a signed copy of the lease during the tenancy, in case any issues or misunderstandings ever arise. You should also keep the lease even after the tenant moves out. After all, this document can help keep your investment protected in case of a legal dispute with a former tenant.
4. Pet Policy Agreement
Allowing pets in your rental can be extremely beneficial. After all, many tenants are willing to pay more for comfortable accommodation for their pets. However, pets also come with risks and liabilities.
Luckily, you can keep your investment protected by having a well-rounded pet policy in all your leases. This way, tenants understand their responsibilities regarding their pets and make sure to pay for any pet or cleaning fees. Keeping this pet policy on file can serve as protection in case an issue with a pet ever arises.
5. Property Inspection Reports
Giving your tenants a warm welcome will always be appreciated. A great way to begin a tenancy is conducting a walk-through inspection with your new renters. This will allow both you and your renters to know the current state of the property and identify any future damages more easily.
It’s crucial that you conduct regular property inspections during the tenancy to ensure that tenants are taking good care of your property and that there are no problems that should be addressed promptly. Likewise, you must conduct a move-out inspection after tenants vacate the property.
When you inspect your property, you must take notes and as many photos and videos as you can. Keep them all together on file. This way, it’ll be easier to assess whether a tenant has damaged your property beyond normal wear and tear. Plus, having a copy of all the inspection reports will keep you protected in case of a security deposit dispute.
6. Maintenance and Repair Requests
Regular maintenance is key to keeping your rental property in good condition and keeping your renters happy. The upkeep of your property will help you comply with regulations, as landlords are required to keep their properties in safe and habitable conditions at all times.
A poorly maintained property can give tenants ground to break the lease early and even sue their landlord. That’s why you must keep detailed documentation of your efforts to maintain your property in good condition. This should include vendor and contractor invoices and any other expenses you incur for maintenance tasks.
Landlords should also store documents regarding any maintenance or repair requests they get from their tenants. Even if they make the request via phone call or text message, you should write down the issue, as well as how and when you solved it.
7. Tenants Complaints
During a tenancy, you’ll have to deal with a fair share of tenant complaints, from maintenance issues to noise complaints. Knowing how to address them promptly will significantly improve your relationship with your renters.
It’s crucial that you keep detailed reports of any tenant complaint that arises. Make sure to keep track of all correspondence regarding the issue, whether it’s an email exchange, a series of text messages, or dated notes from a telephone conversation. And make sure to document how and when you addressed the issue, as well as any follow-ups.
Landlords have to deal with their fair share of paperwork, from rental applications to maintenance requests and tenant complaints. Keeping this documentation organized will make your work easier. Now that you know the seven essential documents landlords must have on file, you can ensure you always have them on file!
Need help dealing with the paperwork for your rental? Our team is ready to help with administrative tasks, including drafting a lease, streamlining maintenance requests, and keeping track of important documents. Contact Home Choice Property Management today!