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Documents for landlords

Running a rental comes with a little bit of paperwork. First, you need to determine whether or not a property is a good investment by running the numbers and doing your due diligence.

Once, you’ve bought the property you need to make sure you have all the renting documents a landlord could need.

Finally, you need to ensure that you keep all your accounts properly up to date and managed (which is where Landlord Studio comes in).

In this article, we outline the key landlord documents, and of course, we have our renting document and resource pages where you can find further documentation.

1. Lease Agreement

Residential

The most important renting document in a landlord’s arsenal is their lease agreement. The lease stipulates the legal terms of renting to a tenant. Without a good lease, landlords leave themselves open to expensive lawsuits amongst other things. It also makes it nigh on impossible to evict a tenant (even if they aren’t paying their rent) as there is no legal document stipulating that the tenant actually is required to.

A well-written lease will clarify all the terms of the rental agreement and will include rules, regulations, and obligations of both landlord and tenant.

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Commercial

If you’ve decided to rent out a commercial property the lease agreement is slightly different and it is a good idea to get a commercial-specific lease that protects both parties involved.

A commercial lease agreement generally includes some of the same information listed in a standard residential lease, as well as:

  • What the property will be used for;
  • Permitted uses within the building;
  • Tax, insurance, and maintenance responsibilities;
  • Payment and lease renewal options.
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2. Co-signer Agreement

Some tenants, especially younger tenants may not have much evidence of a credit score or rental history and, as such, it can be difficult to determine whether or not they are going to be good tenants and be able or responsible enough to pay their rent on time and in full.

You may though, want to still rent to these tenants. In this scenario it is a good idea to get a co-signer on the lease (normally a parent or carer) who will take legal responsibility for the lease agreement should the tenant for any reason not pay rent.

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3. Rental Inspection Report

To avoid the frustrating scenario of arguing with a tenant about the damage done during the tenancy a thorough walk-through is a good idea. This rental inspection report acts as a checklist and reports to help you carefully document the condition of the property from the beginning of the tenancy.

It is well worth going through this report with the tenant so they can make any notes on the property’s condition that you might have missed.

It is also well worth adding photo evidence to this landlord document will help avoid disputes over property conditions when the tenant moves out as well as act as legal proof should a dispute arise.

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4. Sub-Leasing

Occasionally a tenant will need to sublet a property. This could be for any number of reasons, they are going abroad for an extended period, for example.

As a landlord, you don’t have to allow this, but if you do decide to allow tenants to sublet, you’ll want to create a sublease document that will clarify who is going to live (or work) in the property and who will be responsible for the rent.

Read: Should you Allow your Tenant to Sublet

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5. Lease Non-Renewal Notice

Another must-have rental document for landlords. This notice is used when the landlord and/or tenant have decided to end the rental contract. It is the legal equivalent of telling a tenant to leave as soon as the lease expires.

This document allows you to exercise your right to not renew a lease, and it also gives you a non-confrontational way to find new tenants if you need to. When issuing a notice of non-renewal, it is important to understand your state’s laws about the amount of advance notice required. If you have questions, ask a lawyer.

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6. Notice to Enter

There will be times when you will need to enter the property. For example, you need to do a periodic property inspection, you want to gain access for maintenance purposes, or you need to do a routine gas or electrical safety inspection.

Many states require landlords to give tenants at least a 24-hour notice of entry with a landlord’s notice to enter the document. Even if your state doesn’t require it, it’s a courtesy to consider. It should be noted, however, that this notice is not required in emergencies, such as a fire or flood.

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7. Eviction Notice

Nobody wants to evict a tenant however, on occasion it is necessary. In the case where your tenant has breached the legal terms of your lease, you may need to get rid of them. The first step you need to take is to use this document to notify the tenant of an eviction.

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8. LLC Documentation

Forming an LLC is a way to add a layer of protection or your rentals alongside your insurance. Whilst, not a legal requirement for landlords it can be a good idea, especially for those people with multiple rentals to protect from liability claims.

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Form An LLC

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LLC Operating Agreement

An Operating Agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of each member of the LLC.

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9. Past Due Rent Notice

A Past-Due Rent Notice, also known as A Late Rent Notice or a Notice to Pay Rent is one of the renting documents that many landlords don’t think about until they need one.

It is a written letter from a landlord to a tenant informing the tenant of the overdue rent amount and requesting immediate payment. This is a less formal notice than an eviction notice and generally sent shortly after the rent due date. This is the first step for a landlord to collect overdue rent before they might have to begin the eviction process.

A simple Notice of Late Rent letter will identify the following basic elements:

  • Premises: address and location of rental property
  • Overdue Rent: the amount of money the Tenant currently owes the Landlord
  • Late Fee: the late fee, if any, due in addition to the rent
  • Effective Date: when the Tenant must start paying the new rent amount
  • Tenant: name of the person currently renting the Premises
  • Landlord: name of the person who owns the Premises
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There are pre-existing email templates for rent reminders and Late Rent Notices in the Landlord Studio software. These remove the time-consuming task of checking whether they’ve paid, creating a past due rent notice, and sending it to them. Instead, if the income isn’t logged in the system (which it will automatically be if you use our online rent collection service) by the due date the notice automatically gets created and sent.

Find out more about how Landlord Studio can help save you time and money today →

10. Lease Renewal Letter

A lease renewal letter should be sent to a current tenant if you choose to offer them an extension or renewal of the lease for the property they are currently staying in.

What details to include in your lease renewal letter:

  • The date of the lease renewal notice.
  • The expiry date of the current lease.
  • The length of the lease renewal. Eg. 1 year, 6 months, etc.
  • The rent amount for the new lease agreement.

The date by which you need their response and how they can contact you.

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You can send the renewal offer as a letter, deliver it in person, or send it as an email. Whichever way you choose to deliver it make sure you have a copy for your written records.

11. Room Rental Agreement

When renting out a room in your house you will want to make sure you have e all the relevant landlord and renting documents that you need.

Whilst it’s not always necessary for you to provide a written rental agreement (depending on your location and the length of their stay) it is a very good idea to do so in order to protect both yourself and your tenant. Oral agreements can be incredibly hard to enforce.

Your room rental agreement should clearly outline exactly what your expectations are from your roomer as well as state clearly the important details of the agreement like:

  • Rent amount;
  • Rent due date;
  • How the tenant is to pay rent;
  • Guest policy;
  • Kitchen use;
  • Laundry policy etc.
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12. Rental Application Form

A rental application form allows landlords to screen potential tenants to determine if they are a good fit for a property by asking for a variety of personal information. Rental applications are a vital first step that a landlord must take before following through with a lease agreement.

A valid rental application ensures equality in the screening process, provided that the same form is distributed to all prospective tenants. This is critical in adhering to the Federal Fair Housing Act.
The Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, skin color, nationality, religious preference, gender, age, family status, or disability.

NOTE: In the state of California, landlords are also restricted from asking questions regarding immigration or citizenship status on the rental application.

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Landlord Documents: Final Words

This is a quick list of some of the most important documents you need as a landlord. There are, of course, other documents that you might need in specific scenarios and if you haven’t found what you’re looking for here you can check our renting documents and resource pages.

Even if you’re an experienced landlord of many years’ standing, it’s always a good idea to ask a lawyer if there are any new rental laws that you need to be aware of or existing laws that have changed in your state. By getting the legal advice that you need and making the necessary documents to protect your property, you can ensure that you and your tenants have a good, professional relationship throughout their tenancy.

We have partnered with Rocket Lawyer to help get our landlord’s quality legal documents.

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Ben Luxon

Ben is the editor and lead writer for Landlord Studio. He has worked with real estate professionals all over the world and written educational articles on tech, real estate, and financial growth for sites such as Forbes, TechBullion, and Business Magazine.

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