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Landlords, Do You Have a New Tenant Packet?

by Tom Sylvester on May 6, 2014 · 9 comments

  

Being a landlord is difficult.

Unlike some other strategies in real estate (ex. wholesaling/flipping), you are responsible for the property and the residents of the property for the long-term.

If you don’t set expectations upfront and manage the relationship with your tenants, it can be a rocky road. Knowing this (and after making several mistakes), I put together a tenant on-boarding process.  This is the process that we follow to advertise, screen and ultimately bring a new tenant into one of our properties.

RelatedTenant Screening is About the Questions You Ask

An important aspect of this process revolves around our “New Tenant Information” packet.  I’ll walk through this packet in-depth in this post.

New Tenant Packet Our New Tenant Information Packet

What’s In It?

Tenant Application

 This is our standard 2 page application that all tenants must fill out.  It includes standard information such as name, current and previous residence, employment, references, etc.

Residential Lease

Our lease is 5 pages.  It contains the lease time-frame, price and a multitude of other information that both us and the tenant must abide by.  It explains what happens in a variety of situations (such as late payment, noise complaints or abandonment).  We tweak this as new situations arise that we have not accounted for, but lately it has stayed pretty consistent.

Lead Disclosure

Houses built before 1978 may contain lead.  We provide this disclosure to all new tenants so they are aware, which is required by federal law.

Lead Safety Booklet

Accompanying the lead disclosure, the tenants also receive this lead safety book.

Security Deposit

We have a separate form for security deposit.  We record the amount received and the amount still owed (if any).  Typically we require full security deposit to hold a property, but there are very limited situations where a person may need to provide it over several payments.

Move In/Move Out Inspection

We use this form when we first lease the property as well as when the lease ends.  We walk through the property and document the condition of the property, along with pictures (if needed).  The tenant signs this when moving in.  When moving out, we walk through the property again and note any changes.  This is the basis for any damage and potential security deposit deductions.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Acknowledgement

We walk through and test each smoke alarm as well as the carbon monoxide detector with the tenant and have them sign agreeing that these devices are installed and are functioning.

Pet Addendum

We allow some pets in our properties for an additional fee.  This document outlines the criteria and agreement for having pets in the property.  By signing, the tenant is agreeing to pay the additional fee and abide by the rules.

Utility Transfer

Tenants are responsible for paying their own utilities.  This document includes contact information for the utility providers as well as meter information and current readings.  We have the tenants call and switch the utilities over to their names at the current readings and agree to pay the utilities.

Automatic Rent Payment

We recommend that our tenants setup automatic rent payments.  If they agree, this form outlines when and how we will deduct the money from their account and their agreement to these terms.

This not only makes it easier for the tenant, but also makes it easier for us and reduces issues with trying to collect rent.

RelatedPayNearMe: An Easier Way for Your Tenants to Pay Rent

How Do We Use It?

  1. Tenant Fills Out Application – They can either download the form off of our website or receive a copy when we show them the property.  We recommend they fill out a copy and bring it to the showing since our properties tent to get rented quick.
  2. Screening – Once we have the applications, we then following our screening process.  If you don’t have a process in place, a great place to start if with The Ultimate Guide to Tenant Screening.
  3. Approval/Denial – For each applicant, we provide them notification either of their approval or their denial (along with the denial reason).
  4. Lease Signing – For approved applicants, we collect the security deposit and go through each of the above documents with them.  We keep a copy and the tenants also get a copy.

It has taken us a lot of time/effort to compile our packet and the process around it, but it has been worth it.  We tend to get better tenants as a result of the process and we reduce the confusion around various situations that arise from being a landlord.  Additionally, on the rare occasion that we have to evict a tenant, we have all of the required paperwork and it makes the eviction process much smoother.

Landlords – What does your process look like for renting to  new tenant?  Is there anything that we are missing that you would recommend?

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Jon May 6, 2014 at 9:03 am

Tom, great article. I like that you have everything in order it things go wrong. This is something I need to set up for my rentals

Jon

Reply

Tom Sylvester May 7, 2014 at 4:59 am

Thanks Jon and highly recommended. We did not always have everything in order, and it has cost us a lot of money over the years…

Reply

Eric May 6, 2014 at 9:13 am

I have a packet too. I use a Walmart, school portfolio thing, it costs about .25 when you buy them during the back to school sales.

I have school district information, utility information, fire department flyers, Association information, leases, some Q&A regarding rent payment and apartment maintenance, etc. It also has move out information and I also put a C/D in there with pictures of the move in condition. I always take ~65 pictures, and use them for the next marketing program, as well as to document the apartment move in condition.

Most is common sense, but it makes me look more professional.

Reply

Tom Sylvester May 7, 2014 at 5:01 am

Very nice Eric. It definitely makes you look more professional. And taking a lot of pictures is key. Helps a lot when they move out and determining potential security deposit deductions (along with the move in/move out sheet).

Reply

Nate May 6, 2014 at 9:53 am

Nice write up Tom!

For the automatic rent payment, is it legal to require that upon signing the lease. I can see how it may reduce the amount of qualified tenants but it would be nice to know that all your tenants paid electronic.

Reply

Tom Sylvester May 7, 2014 at 5:03 am

Nate – I do not believe it is illegal, but I am not an attorney, so I would recommend checking with yours.

We have found over time that most people end up using the automatic rent payment because it makes their lives easier. You could also do something like reduce the rent x% if they do automatic payments.

Automatic payments do make it easier, but if the money is not in the tenants account then you do still have to do the normal process of late fees and trying to collect.

Reply

Jordan Thibodeau May 6, 2014 at 5:22 pm

Great post. That reminds me I need to update my packet.

Tom: Do you use BP’s mysmartmove for tenant screening?

Reply

Tom Sylvester May 7, 2014 at 5:04 am

Thanks Jordan. We do not currently use the BP tool but I should take a look at it.

Reply

Shawn May 20, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Great post Tom. I am getting started myself in rentals. Do you share your tenant packet documents? Would it be possible to obtain copies so I can leverage?

Reply

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