It’s possible that managing your rental property’s paperwork and lease agreement can seem like an overwhelming chore. Don’t get too frustrated with it, however, because it’s essential to keep up with all of these documents in order to avoid potential legal complications and tenant disputes.
Proper documentation and organized, easily accessible paperwork is necessary. Gathering all of this information starts with your rental agreement. You need to have a strong lease in place, and you need to make sure that your paperwork is easily referenced in both digital and print formats.
Here’s how the appropriate property paperwork and strong rental agreements can protect you and your investment property.
Creating a Strong and Compliant Lease Agreement
The lease agreement is where you and your resident will go if there’s a question, a concern, or a dispute. Any confusion about who is responsible for landscaping, pest control, or pool cleaning should be taken care of by referencing the lease.
Your lease agreement is arguably the most important document you’ll have as a property owner who is renting out a home to tenants. Your rental agreement will protect your legal rights as well as those of your tenants.
You’ll need to be sure your lease is legally enforceable in Florida. Your lease must comply with all state and federal laws, and it must be specific to Florida rental laws. Downloading a lease template you found on the internet that was created by a real estate attorney in New York, Nevada, or California will not help you.
If you’re not sure where to find a lease agreement, ask us. We can provide you with some guidance.
A good lease agreement will be thorough and detailed. It will be transparent, direct, and willing to hold both you and your residents accountable for its terms. Make sure your lease includes:
- Your rent collection policy.
- Whether pets are allowed.
- Who is responsible for landscaping and lawn care.
- Whether statewide rent control applies to your property.
- Lease terms and security deposit amounts. Florida law requires you to stipulate where you’re holding the deposit, and it has to be in a Florida bank.
- Process for reporting maintenance.
- Move-in and move-out procedures.
- Rules and requirements around smoking, parking, guests, etc.
- Disclosures around lead, mold, and other issues.
Your lease should include instructions pertaining to how a tenant should give notice when they decide to move out as well as a list of requirements that address how a tenant can receive a full security deposit refund.
From your rental agreement, you can begin to inventory additional paperwork that you need to ensure you have everything that you should.
Necessary Leasing Paperwork
The leasing paperwork includes more than just the rental agreement. You’ll also want to make sure you file and can easily access:
- Documented screening standards you use to evaluate applications. Provide your rental criteria to every applicant. It should reflect what you’re looking for in terms of credit, income, eviction and rental history, and criminal background.
- All of the rental applications you’ve collected.
- After you’ve completed your screening, you’ll need a form letter or some type of consistent communication that goes out to tenants who are approved and tenants who are denied. There are Fair Credit Reporting Act rules to follow when it comes to denying a tenant, so the proper paperwork is incredibly important, otherwise, you’ll face potential disputes and lawsuits.
- Move-in inspection reports. You need to document the condition of your property when tenants take possession. Keep detailed notes and photographs.
Make sure you have a ledger that records the security deposits and other move-in funds that were collected as well.
Maintenance Paperwork Landlords Need
Now that you’ve inventoried the paperwork you need around the leasing process, think about what you need for the tenancy itself. Some of the most important paperwork will be inspection reports and maintenance records.
Routine maintenance should be reported in writing. That will provide you with a paper trail that reflects the problem and the process. You can track when the request was made and what was done about it. Collect invoices and payment receipts.
Keep track of warranties as well. If your tenants report that the refrigerator has stopped working or the water heater has leaked, you’ll want to access the paperwork you have around those appliances to see if there’s any warranty in place.
Accounting Paperwork and Financial Reports
Accounting and bookkeeping require a lot of paperwork, and because you’ll be filing taxes every year, you’ll want to make sure it’s detailed, accurate, and precise.
Tracking the income and expenses related to your rental property is critical for tax time and allows you to make important decisions about your investment. Financial reports and accounting statements show you how your property is performing.
Electronic forms, reports, and statements are easy to generate, especially if you’re using a software system that supports everything you need to do and track. Make sure you can clearly record your income and expenses, and be willing to analyze this information on a regular basis so you can use it to your advantage.
Tampa Property Management Agreements
Are you working with a professional property manager? That’s good. Don’t forget the property management agreement. You’ll want to keep this in a safe place in case you need to reference it for questions.
If you’re working with a property management company, you’re likely less stressed about your documents, your paperwork, and your rental agreement. You have experts in place who are taking care of all these things for you. You’ll have financial reports generated for you on a monthly basis, showing when rent was paid and what expenses were required for your property.
A property management partnership is a good way to achieve peace of mind that all of the required paperwork is in place and easily accessible.
There’s a lot to keep track of when you’re renting out a property. If the paperwork seems to be too much, work with a property manager. We have dedicated online filing systems and platforms to track all of the documentation you need, starting with your lease agreement.
We can talk more about paperwork and best practices around how to manage the logistics and the documentation around renting out your property. Contact our team at Hoffman Realty.