Documentation is one of the most important words in property management. Good record keeping saves the day when it comes to winning a tenant dispute, or tracking and analyzing the profitability of your rental property.
Proper documentation begins when you first advertise a vacancy, and continues long after a tenant leaves. The first step is to set up a tenant file:
The tenant file should include a copy of the advertisement that prompted the tenant to apply. This may be important in order to show that you did not discriminate in your ads, nor did you make promises or representations to your tenant not included in the lease agreement.
Notes taken from the original phone conversation with the tenant should come next. It is best if these notes are on some type of intake form used for every applicant inquiry, and if all the information noted on the form relates directly to those prequalifying questions.
Unless prohibited by your tenancy laws, keep a copy of the tenant’s photo ID which was provided prior to the original property tour.
The completed, signed rental application should be included in the file, along with all supporting documentation that was not returned to the tenant.
All disclosures or leasing documents provided to the tenant prior to leasing must be in the file.
A copy of receipts provided to the tenant for money submitted should be included.
Next, include the signed lease agreement, along with any attachments, like a smoke-free addendum.
The move in condition report used in the initial inspection should be placed in the file.
Track all other tenant communications during the tenancy, especially repair requests. (Note: Make a copy of all repair requests and place in a master file to record the overall costs and repair history for the building.)
Save any checklists used during routine property inspections.
Include the move-out condition report, along with any photos or videos.
Complete a final accounting, noting security deposit deductions, if any. Include receipts for repairs, and record any outstanding balance owed by the tenant.
Be sure your documentation contain dates for future reference.
Because much of this information is private, it is important to store tenant files in a secure location and limit access only to authorized employees.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post in not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.