What tenant records do I need to keep?

I want to be super-organized with my tenant files. What’s the best way to do this?

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You’re smart to think about keeping good tenant records. This will help you avoid problems should disputes develop later, for example, regarding your handling of repairs or security deposits.

Basically, you’ll want to keep a good trail (paper and electronic) for each tenant, including the following documents:

After a tenant moves in, add these documents to the individual’s file:

  • your written requests for entry
  • rent increase notices
  • records of repair requests, and details of how and when they were handled
  • safety and maintenance updates and inspection reports, and
  • emails and correspondence.

There are several property management software programs that allow you to keep track of every aspect of your business, from the tracking of rents to the follow-up on repair requests. Especially if you own many rental properties, these programs are well worth the cost, or you can set up your own database for each tenant with spaces for the following information:

  • address or unit number
  • move-in date
  • home phone number
  • name, address, and phone number of employer
  • credit information, including up-to-date ­information as to where tenant banks
  • monthly rent amount and rent due date
  • amount and purpose of deposits plus any ­information your state requires on location of deposit and interest payments
  • vehicle make, model, color, year, and license plate number
  • emergency contacts, and
  • whatever else is important to you.

Finally, don’t forget to keep good records of your rental income and expenses for filing taxes when you’re a landlord.

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