The Documents to Govern Your Occupants
Landlords, property managers, and building owners have a myriad of things to consider when they offer their property for rent to tenants. It starts with a rental agreement as this document is the most essential form that must be completed and signed so as to protect you, your property, and your business.
But there are many other forms and documents that should also be utilized during the rental process and this goes for anything, from an apartment or condo to a rental property even a garage or storage space.
If you can rent it to other people who will then be responsible for paying you for the privilege of retaining some occupancy of that property, then you must have the proper forms filled out and signed in full. However, not every landlord knows just what is really necessary and what might not be so critical for the purposes of protecting yourself completely when you plan to rent your property. While that passive income can be very attractive if you fail to commit your occupants to abide by your ground rules, you could be biting off more than you want to chew.
What's So Important about a Rental Agreement?
Any property that you plan to rent must be done with a fully executed rental agreement. It's a way to bind you and your tenants to each other and assigns them specific responsibilities that include, first and foremost, paying the rent on time.
The rental agreement also explicitly states what the rental amount will be each month, when it's due, what the late fees will be should the rent be tardy, and the methods for submitting payment. As far as the finances portion of the agreement is concerned, you must also delineate how much of a security deposit must be submitted at the time the tenants plan to take occupancy.
There are other matters that must also be clearly outlined in the lease, such as the number of occupants who plan to rent the property at any given time. All of those tenants must sign the lease so they are all bound to the stipulations and requirements outlined in the document. Should one of those individuals violate the terms of the rental agreement in any way, it's then up to you to render the lease null and void and you may then initiate legal action such as eviction, if necessary.
That step may be severe based on the type of violation that's been committed, but without a rental agreement in place, it can be much harder for you to take any steps at all to make sure you get paid what you are owed and to protect the condition of the unit.
A rental agreement is also vital for outlining any restrictions that are in place as to how many tenants are allowed in the unit or if pets are allowed. In some cases, you can request that your tenants pay a separate security deposit for any pets that live in the property. There is also language within that stipulates what you are responsible for with respect to repairs and what rules the tenants must abide in acceptable maintenance of the property.
So What Do You Need Beyond the Rental Agreement?
In addition to the rental agreement, there are some other documents that will be very helpful in protecting you and your property when you plan to rent it out to others.
One of the more crucial documents that you should use is a move-in checklist. This helps you to document the state of the property prior to a tenant moving in. Aside from typical levels of wear and tear, your property is expected to be in that same condition when the tenant gives up occupancy. Excessive damage found in the unit allows for you to take the money in the security deposit and apply it to fix that damage.
But this can be tough to do without first making a move-in checklist with your new tenant, identifying any preexisting damage that is in or on the property and having the tenant sign the document to show that you both agree on the level of disrepair that might be evident at the time. If the two of you don't sign that checklist, there's no real secure method of determining how much damage is new and how much of it was there when the tenant moved in.
It's also a good way to put your tenant at ease that you won't attempt to take their security deposit by claiming damage that wasn't their responsibility.
This one is absolutely essential, probably just as much as the rental agreement. Having prospective clients fill out an application helps you weed out the good from the bad. This is vital to that all-important screening process that every landlord should conduct. You certainly aren't going to let just anyone rent your property, you want assurances that the person who resides in the unit is trustworthy and they will pay the rent on time.
The application is imperative for running credit and background checks on anyone who wishes to live in the property. If you don't conduct this screening process, you are just asking for trouble.
Emergency Contact Form
This information can also be included on the rental agreement if you don't want to create a separate form for this purpose. Be sure to have your tenant provide the contact information for one or more individuals in case of emergency. This is important because you have someone to contact should there be a medical or some other kind of emergency involving the tenant. In case you need to reach someone for help, this form should have those names and phone numbers.
These names can also be helpful should your tenant suddenly disappear without paying you the rent that you are still owed. This way you can try to track the tenant down and try to find them through the contacts they provide.