Being a landlord is difficult.
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.
An important aspect of this process revolves around our “New Tenant Information” packet. I’ll walk through this packet in-depth in this post.
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What’s In It?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How Do We Use It?
- 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.
- 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.
- Approval/Denial – For each applicant, we provide them notification either of their approval or their denial (along with the denial reason).
- 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?