Have you ever found yourself looking through mountains of paperwork trying to find an important document? Managing paperwork can be a stressful and time-consuming responsibility for landlords.
As a landlord, staying organized is key to success. You’ll want to ensure that your documents are in order and can be easily retrieved when required. In today’s article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about managing important rental documents.
Why is Documentation Important for a Landlord?
As a landlord, keeping a solid record of important documents, such as rental agreements and payment receipts, is critical. The following are the primary reasons to do so:
- Accountability - You are able to easily reference specific portions of the rental agreement.
- Court Evidence - Having a written record can save you in a courtroom. This is especially true when it comes to things like unpaid rent, property damage, or a lease violation.
- Track Financial Performance - You’ll be able to have updated records of things like balance sheets and income-expenses reports.
- Protection Against Lawsuits - In the event of legal battles like disputes over the use of a security deposit, it’s vital to have detailed records.
What Documents Should Landlords Keep on File?
After knowing the benefits of maintaining detailed rental records, the following are the important documents you should be keeping:
A Rental Agreement
This is inarguably the most important document that you should have on file. Once you rent out your property, you’ll always want to have a copy of the lease with you for the duration of the lease term.
Doing this will help you handle any issues that arise during the tenancy. For example, if a tenant violates the lease agreement, you can use the copy you have as a reference to remind them what they are obligated to do. After the term of the lease is over, you can keep a digital copy to have on file.
A Lease Addendum
Any amendments made to the lease must be kept for the entire duration of the agreement. In fact, you should attach the addendum to the original lease for ease and convenience in record-keeping. You may also want to have a digital copy.
Regular inspections are key to running a profitable rental investment business. By regularly inspecting your property, you’ll be able to:
- Identify areas that need repairs or maintenance before they become serious
- Check for health and safety code violations
- Check whether a tenant is violating a term of the lease
- When a tenant moves out, you can also use an inspection report to know whether or not they have left the property in good condition.
You should always have a copy of important notices on file. From nonpayment notices and eviction notices to everything in between. You will also want to keep records of when you sent the notices and what follow-ups you did. These records can prove extremely helpful when you need evidence in court.
Tenant Screening Documents
Successful landlords have one trait in common – they only rent to quality tenants. You want to ensure that you keep a record of your tenant screening processes. For example, you’ll want to keep a list of pre-screening questions to avoid potential discrimination lawsuits.
Examples of pre-screening questions that can be considered discriminatory include the following:
- Are you a Christian?
- How many children do you have?
- Are you married?
- Have you ever been arrested?
- Where are you originally from?
- Are you pregnant?
Pet Policy Agreement
Do you allow tenants to keep a pet? If so, have a documented pet policy on your file. Also, make sure that tenants with pets sign the document. A standard pet policy usually defines the type, breed, and number of pets a tenant can keep.
A move-in checklist is another important document you’ll want on file. It’ll help you keep track of your property’s condition and hold your tenant accountable for any lease violations. Without the checklist, you’ll have no evidence regarding damages other than your word.
Just as you should have a move-in checklist on file, you’ll also want to have a move-out checklist. This checklist will help you highlight your expectations for the property so that they know their responsibilities prior to leaving.
The checklist will be mutually beneficial. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that the tenant will leave the property in a good condition. On your tenant’s part, they will know that they will have the full security deposit back once they fulfill the requirements.
How Should Landlords Organize Paperwork?
Managing paperwork can be anything but simple. This is especially true if you have multiple tenants to manage or have a backlog of documents. If you find yourself in any of these situations, take some time to go through these documents and keep them organized. But how exactly do you keep paperwork well organized?
For ease and convenience, keep a digital copy of everything. Scan all the documents aforementioned and save them on cloud storage or an external hard drive. For documents that you’ll have as hard copies, keep them in a safe and secure location.
Another organization tip is to ensure you’ve cleared your desk at the end of every day. Failure to file things away will create piles of documents over time.
You can also use a property management company. They’ll be able to keep track of your documents and help you oversee the day-to-day responsibilities that come with owning a rental property.
There you have it, everything you need to know regarding the rental documents you need and tips on how to organize them. For expert help, look no further than Gifford Properties & Management. Our reputation is thanks to our professional and honest approach to providing property management services. Get in touch with us today to learn more!