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Must Have Legal 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 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 documents a landlord needs, and of course, we have our document and resource pages where you can find further documentation.

1. Lease Agreement

Residential 

The most important 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.

Related: What you Need to Know about Investing in Commercial Real Estate

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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 of 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 report 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 properties condition that you might have missed. 

It is also well worth adding photo evidence to this document will help avoid disputes over property condition 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. Landlord Non-renewal Notice

Another must have document for landlords. This notice is used when the landlord and/or tenant has 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 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 emergency situations, 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.

Related: How Does the Eviction Process Work

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8. LLC Documentation

Forming an LLC is a way to add an additional 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.

Read: Should your Form an LLC for your Rentals

Get your LLC documents

Form an LLC

Form your own LLC with the help of Rocket Lawyer.

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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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Conclusion

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 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. Find out more about Rocket Lawyer.

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Ben Luxon

"Ben is an author and real estate enthusiast. His interest in all things entrepreneurial has led him to work with real estate professionals all over the world, distilling their knowledge into articles and Ebooks. His love of travelling has taken him to over 10 countries in the last year, where he has sampled the craft beer of them all."

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