The Top 7 Legal Documents Every Landlord Must Have/Keep

There are definitely certain documents (both legal and non-legal) that all landlords and property managers must have on hand for situations like new applicants, evictions and more. Listed below are the top seven legal documents every landlord and property manager must have.

1. Rent or lease agreement
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how many new and even experienced landlords don’t have a solid rent or lease agreement contract available. Here are a few basics that must be included on a simple rent contract:

  • The “parties” involved. This lists the names of the “parties” who the contract is between (i.e., the renter and the landlord).
  • Property identification. Describes and lists the address of the property being rented or leased, and the name of the property, if applicable (some landlords name their units or properties, such as “Bayside Estate” or “Sunset Villa”).
  • The lease term. This lists exactly when the contract is valid, from beginning until end. Make sure to list the exact day that the contract starts and, if applicable, the exact date that the contract ends.

2. Property disclosure/disclaimer
It’s a good idea to have these forms on hand, especially when leasing a property or unit/apartment. A property disclosure/disclaimer form lists any and all defects of the unit or property so that both the renter and the landlord or property manager understands and acknowledges the state of the unit or property. This is a great idea so that the landlord can protect him or herself in case the renter tries to sue for property damage or that they didn’t know the state of property/unit when they moved in.

3. Notice to show property
This document should be given to the current renter of a particular property or unit. It simply lets them know that, per their rent or lease contract, it is time to start showing the property to potential applicants. This usually occurs at the end of a rent contract (when the renter’s contract is about to end and they have decided not to renew the rental contract), and is a legal way of letting them know you have the right to show the property to other applicants.

4. Lease or rental renewal agreement
If the tenant has decided to renew their contract, it’s a good idea to always have a lease or rental renewal agreement on hand just for those instances. The form is used to legally extend the terms of the existing contract between the landlord and the tenant. The landlord can also add or change the terms of the contract, as long as the tenant is aware and agrees to the new terms. This form needs to be signed and dated by both parties to be legally binding, as well.

5. Tenant’s waiver of insurance form
In the case that the tenant does not want or have renter’s insurance (to cover their personal belongings in case of fire or other catastrophe), having this form is another good idea. It states that the landlord has explained the importance of such insurance to the tenant and said tenant has declined.

6. Non-renewal notice
Again this is a no-brainer, but another must-have document that landlords need to have on file. This notice is used when the landlord and/or tenant has decided to end the rental contract. Make sure to give enough notice to the tenant, however, if the decision not to renew was the landlord’s decision.

7. Notice to enter
Every landlord and/or property manager needs a “Notice to Enter” form on file; since repairs must sometimes be made on a property or unit, the landlord must have approval from the tenant in order to enter the unit. This form simply lets the tenant know when a landlord has to do repairs or anything else on the grounds of the residence.

POSTED June 23 2015 12:00 PM

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