My First Rental Property-Questions

10 Replies

Hello everyone,

I just purchased my first rental, made it through the screening process, have a move in date set for a qualified tenant, and am wondering about what kind of documentation I should be preparing, and in what order? My plan is to put together a PDF folder, with every PDF document that I will need for every time a tenant moves in, listed in order, including things like a minimum qualifications list, rental application, denial form, acceptance form, and so on, all the way through the lease, and handing over the keys. There will be two sections, the move in, and the move out section. I am not worried maintenance forms and such, they will be in a separate folder.

I have no idea as to what things will need to be on this list, or in what order, and was hoping that others had some sort of similar system, and can share a list of all the documents I should start putting together. Do they all need to be purchased from a state website that provides legal forms? Either way, I am sure I can find the docs online, if I know what I'm looking for. I want to make this as legal, and professional as possible, as I want to heavily scale next year, and want to build a strong foundation and system now, to make that easier down the road!

Any and all help is greatly appreciated!!!! 

Thank You,


@Kole Kingslien

Wisconsin legal blank will have every document you will need.

I start with the tenant welcome form, It gives them all the information they need for that specific building. Then we go over the base lease, It is pretty in depth.   I then go over the 2 page special provisions document as well, there is an area in that doc to hand write some additional provisions. There are also some pet forms if applicable.. 

Like I said these are all available on Wisconsin legal blank. 

Congrats on your first Purchase!

I have a move-in packet;  It is presented in folder with our business card.  All forms are printed with our company's logo and contact info.  Packet consists of: 

2 copies of our rental agreement,

SD and first month's rental receipt.  We prorate the second month, so this first receipt also states when the the second month's rent is due and the amount.  It states "The third month's rent, and thereafter, is due on the first for $XXX."

brochure on renter's insurance

maintenance request forms

move-out notification form

Form with code to common laundry room

"how to get your security deposit back" form that details how the apartment should be cleaned upon move-out and our charges for common damages

Move-in/move-out checklist.  We have the move-in condition filled out, tenant is allowed to make comments (they never do), then we both sign.  Tenants gets a copy mailed to them.  (move-in photos have already been taken)

We also put a magnet with our logo and contact info on the metal cover to the electric box.

Having this packet allows us to sit down and go over a number of things with the tenant at the lease signing. We set our expectations for rent to be paid on time, property to be maintained, that we will have yearly rent increases (but that we try to keep them reasonable), and that we want residents to be good neighbors. 

Even if you are using a pre-made lease, I strongly advise you to re-type the form into your computer.  That way you can add your company's logo and contact info.  You can type in the tenant's name on the forms.  It looks so much more professional.  It conveys to the tenant that you know your business.  I believe this heads off many problems down the road.

I was an accidental landlord and used a rental agreement I found or bought online. My word of wisdom - - Be sure you have specific provisions about renters insurance and get copies of the tenants policy for you folder....I can copy and send you what language I used (may vary from state to state) but I am turning over my property now (first time in 6 years - woot) and am filing a renters insurance claim due to pet destruction (never renting to anyone with a cat again). Good luck! 

For the documents, I have faith that you will be able to do your research and find all the documents you need to run your business successfully. 

I like your idea of creating PDF files, but nothing beats having a couple copies of all the documents you need in an expanding folder or Pendaflex. I keep two pendaflex's, one at my personal residence near my desk and the other is always in the trunk of my car. All documents are available to me at ALL times.

Good luck

every state will be different and laws change all the time, check with state and local regs, ccos etc, like in Phillys landlord has to be licensed, and give tenants copies of inspections etc, some areas its just a lead base paint brochure, many brochures you can download or buy cheap or free, make a master list of what should be in each packet to check off, be careful in changing wording legalize like may to must...., be do personalize to each situation as it applies, say sfh doesnt have common areas, most states offer landlord tenant laws and sample leases free, hud does, be careful about just downloading anywhere as may or maynot meet laws, or you could hire a local attorney to look over what you right up, either way be very careful what you ask on screenings, and keep all,ALL records even those turned down, make your data base and have a back up disk, I used to just print out a only few forms ahead because laws change and printed names in leases are easier to read, dont go by someones advise or their lease etc, make sure your is as legal as you can, it is a legal contract   dont ask questions like married?or children?, just keep things neutral, occupants, non smoking now has to specify tobacco or other old leases didnt, know service animal regs, and if not important now you will most likely be asked, best advice is document document, I like a short videoed walk through, esp if you can do with tenant, give them a copy so they remember condition too, make it sound like a ribbon cutting but really cwa and hand them everything there, some have forms for direct deposit from bank for rent checks, some have a few preaddressed envelopes, make copies of everything , keep backups, and originals, dedicate a file cabinet if you need too, yes even for disks in their own file, it wont take up that much space and you will be batter to have than not, sounds silly but document inquiries even, (wasnt John Doe asking about a rental last month?last month he made 40k now he says 65k?), each property should have own file folders, there are punches that you can use with fasteners to keep orderly, I prefer digital and paper copy, computers fail, hard drives crash, papers get lost, Wisconsin isnt as paperwork heavy as some, you will also want a rent log of each property you can make up a master for that, with security info with it too, when we went digital(ages ago) I was the one to first teach our realestate office computers, and still see them fail so keep meticulous notes, it will actually be easier not harder