When it comes to owning and managing rental properties, there are several important rental forms that all landlords and property managers need. Whether you’re looking for prospective renters, handling property maintenance, or collecting rent payments, several important documents are involved in each process. In today’s article, we’ll discuss why keeping records is crucial, important rental forms, and how to properly store business documents.
Contents of This Article:
Why It’s Important for Landlords to Keep Records
Running a rental business or rental property management in Baltimore requires several important documents and records. Whether it’s rent payments, maintenance requests, security deposits, or lease renewals, you’ll likely need a form to document the transaction.
Keeping documents carefully organized is a huge part of running a business smoothly. Here’s why landlords need to keep detailed, accurate records.
- Legal Compliance- Landlords have legal obligations and responsibilities for their tenants. So, keeping records helps ensure compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations related to rental properties. These records can serve as evidence in case of disputes, complaints, or legal proceedings.
- Financial Management- Maintaining thorough records is crucial for effective financial management. After all, landlords need to keep track of rental income, expenses, and other financial transactions related to their properties. As such, accurate records allow for proper bookkeeping, budgeting, and tax filing.
- Lease Enforcement- Lease agreements outline the terms and conditions of the tenancy, including the rent amount, lease duration, and responsibilities for both parties. Keeping copies of the lease agreement helps ensure property enforcement of lease terms and provides clarity in case of disputes or disagreements.
Important Rental Forms for Tenants and Landlords
Landlords and tenants have important rental forms that help establish clear communication, protect their rights, and ensure a smooth rental process. That said, here are some essential rental forms for both parties.
- Rental Application
- Lease Agreement and Renewal Paperwork
- Move-In/Move-Out Checklist
- Rent and Security Deposit Receipts
- Notice to Enter
- Late Rent Notice
- Notice to Quit or Pay and Eviction Notices
The first and one of the most important rental forms that all landlords and tenants need is the rental application. When a tenant is interested in a rental property, they’ll fill out an application and give it to a landlord or property manager. Most rental applications include important personal information, rental history, employment details, and references. In turn, it helps landlords evaluate the sustainability of the tenant for the property. Additionally, it gives tenants an idea of what requirements and expectations are for living in the rental.
Lease Agreement and Renewal Paperwork
Another important rental form is the lease agreement. The lease is a legally binding agreement between the tenant and the landlord. It outlines the terms and conditions of the tenancy, including the rent amount, lease duration, security deposit, maintenance responsibilities, and rules and expectations of the property. Additionally, it helps protect the rights of landlords and tenants, as it clearly defines the duties and obligations of both parties.
Lease renewals can help landlords save time and money, allowing the current tenant to remain in the unit. Sending a lease renewal helps keep all parties on the same page regarding whether a tenant is moving or if there’s an increase in rent and any other applicable changes.
Tenant move-in and move-out checklists are crucial for each rental property. When moving into a new rental, tenants should complete a move-in checklist to document the property’s condition at the start of the tenancy. This can give tenants peace of mind about the property and assures they won’t be charged for previous damages. Then, at the end of the tenancy, tenants should fill out a move-out checklist to ensure the property is in the same condition as when they moved in, aside from normal wear and tear.
Rent and Security Deposit Receipts
It’s important to have receipts for the security deposit and each rental payment.
These forms serve as proof of payment and can be helpful for personal financial records or potential landlord-tenant disputes. So, each time a tenant pays rent or a security deposit fee, you’ll want to provide them with a receipt and keep one for yourself. Additionally, if you plan on keeping part or all of your tenant’s security deposit, sending an itemized list of deductions and keeping that file on record is crucial.
Notice to Enter
You’ll want to notify your tenants if you need to enter the property for any reason besides an emergency. Usually, 24 hours is a reasonable minimum for advance notice into a tenant’s unit. However, each state has its own laws regarding a landlord’s access to the property. Additionally, you’ll want to give a reason for entering, whether it’s for repairs, inspections, or showings. An informative notice to enter form ensures compliance with local laws regarding entering a rental unit.
Late Rent Notice
If tenants fail to pay rent on time, landlords can send a late notice. A late rent notice should inform the tenant of the overdue rent amount and any associated fees. Additionally, it tells them how they can pay and what will happen if the payment isn’t complete after a certain period of time. That said, adding as much information as possible to your late rent notice is important to ensure the tenant understands the situation. So, make sure to include when the rent was due, the full amount, late fees, when they need to pay, and what will happen if they don’t.
Notice to Quit or Pay and Eviction Notices
If a tenant violates the lease agreement or refuses to pay rent, you’ll want to send a notice to pay or quit. This form alerts the tenant about the violation and the next steps, usually giving them a chance to pay. Then, if a tenant doesn’t respond to a notice to quit or pay form, an eviction may be necessary. As such, landlords must provide tenants with the appropriate eviction notice as local laws require. The notice should state the reasons for eviction and the timeframe for the tenant to respond or leave the property.
How to Properly Store Important Rental Documents
Properly storing important rental documents is crucial for landlords and tenants. After all, it ensures that essential paperwork is organized, easily accessible, and protected from damage or loss.
There are a few different ways to store important business records–digitally and physically. However, you’ll want to start by categorizing and organizing everything first. Create folders or separate sections for each tenant or type of rental document to help you local specific documents when needed.
If you’re utilizing physical storage, you’ll want to invest in a file cabinet or filing system to store physical copies of documents. Additionally, proper labeling of the type of document, relevant dates, or property details is another important point to consider.
However, if you’re storing files digitally, you’ll want to utilize cloud storage services to store digital copies of your rental documents. Some digital platforms landlords can use to manage properties and store documents include Buildium, Appfolio, Rentec Direct, and more.
Benefits of Property Management Software for Safe Storage
Property management software is a great way to store and manage important rental forms. There are several benefits to saving and storing documents digitally, along with, or instead of, physical storage. Here’s why.
- Automated Document Generation- Some property management software solutions offer document generation features. These features allow landlords or property managers to create templates for lease agreements, rental applications, or notices.
- Accessibility- Property management software allows you to access documents anytime, anywhere, with an internet connection. This is useful for landlords or property managers who need to access documents on the go or from different locations.
- Organization and Searchability- Property management software allows you to organize documents easily using folders, tags, or categories. This makes it easy to locate specific documents quickly using search functions or filters.
- Safety and Security- Most property management software offers security features like user authentication and role-based access control. These measures help protect sensitive rental documents and prevent unauthorized access to important files.
- Cloud Backup- Losing important rental forms can harm a rental business. Luckily, most property management software lets you store documents on a cloud-based platform. That way, you can look back at the history of a specific tenant or property at any time.
Ensure the Right Rental Forms With Property Management
Having the right rental forms is a must when you own rental properties. Some of the most important rental forms include applications, lease agreements, payment receipts, inspection checklists, and various notices.
Documenting your transparent and thorough communication with tenants can help avoid misunderstandings and disputes. However, drafting, signing, and keeping track of important rental forms can be time-consuming, especially for busy rental owners. As such, many successful landlords hire third-party property management to help them manage properties and keep track of business records.
Bay Property Management Group offers comprehensive rental management services in Baltimore, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC. So, whether you need help finding tenants, screening prospective renters, collecting payments, or completing maintenance requests, contact BMG today.