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12 Essential Rental Documents Landlords Should Have
May 29, 2024

12 Essential Rental Documents Landlords Should Have

33 realty
12 Essential Rental Documents Landlords Should Have

What documents should a landlord have? Even a standard residential lease is going to involve multiple documents, ranging from a rental application to a lease agreement. Knowing what they are will help you be prepared.

You likely did your due diligence before buying a property to be sure it was a good investment. Once you own it, you need to have all the requisite renting documents.

Having trouble managing all of this? Let our property management company give you a hand!

1. Lease Agreement

Not every rental application turns into a lease agreement. When it does, however, there are differences between residential and commercial lease agreements.

Residential Property

The lease agreement is the most crucial renting document you will ever have. This is the document that states the specific legal terms involved with renting to your tenant. If the lease isn't good, you might be susceptible to costly lawsuits. You might also find it next to impossible to evict tenants. Even if they are refusing to pay rent, you have no legal paperwork dictating that the tenant needs to pay rent. A well-crafted lease provides clear terms, rules, and obligations for both tenants and landlords.

Commercial Property

A lease agreement will be slightly different for a commercial property. The right commercial-specific lease document can protect every party involved. It will likely have a lot of information a conventional residential lease would have, but it might also include the designated purpose of the property in terms of function; permitted building uses; options for payment and lease renewal; and responsibilities for taxes, maintenance, and insurance.

2. Tenant Screening Documents

landlord form

Prospective tenants might look like rental income to you, but you need to do credit and background checks. Retain this information in your tenant file in case issues come up later. Make a comprehensive list of different pre-screening questions you can ask possible tenants. Doing so means you can be consistent in what you ask all applicants. Call any references they list and have a list of questions for them so you can be consistent there, too.

3. Rental Inspection Report

After someone submits a rental application and secures a lease agreement, you'll probably want a security deposit for the rental property in question. A tenant is likely to worry about never getting that back. Walk through the unit with them so you can collectively document the property condition prior to their tenancy. Photo evidence can be very powerful in the event of a dispute over the conditions of the property.

4. Move-In and Move-Out Checklists

It's very common for the standard residential lease of any rental property to require a security deposit. Two checklists should happen with that. One is the move-in checklist indicating the condition of the property before the tenant moves anything in, and the move-out checklist compares the condition when they move out. This combination should provide accountability and responsibility for both the tenant and the landlord.

5. Maintenance and Repair Records

As a landlord, you'll be responsible for repairing things in the home. Track all of this with the rest of the rental documents. Keep your invoices. Take very detailed notes about any work done, and include the date and costs. These records are your proof that the upgrades and repairs were done. You'll also benefit come tax time since you can deduct the costs and expenses involved with maintenance and repairs.

6. Emergency Contacts

One landlord you might neglect to fill out is one you hope you never have to use. That's getting a list of emergency contacts from a tenant. This list needs to include email addresses and phone numbers. If a renter has an emergency or is injured in their home, you need to know who to call. You can also possibly use this information to locate a tenant should they leave without giving you notice and still owe rent.

7. Lease Non-Renewal Notice

what documents should a landlord have

This one is a must for landlords. If you decide to end the rental contract, then you want the tenant to leave when their lease expires. Of course, you need to inform them of this. This is the document where you exercise your landlord's right to not renew their lease. It's also a non-confrontational way of looking for new tenants. Find out what your state's laws say about how much advance notice you must give the tenant.

8. Lease Renewal Letter

If you would like to offer your current tenant the opportunity to renew or extend their lease, then a lease renewal letter is how you would do it. That way, they can stay longer on your property. Your letter should include the notice's date, the expiration date of their current lease, how long the lease renewal is good for, the proposed rent, the date by which the tenant would need to let you know, and how they might contact you about it.

9. Notice to Enter

You'll need to enter the tenant's space on your property at times. That can happen for inspections and maintenance. Most jurisdictions mandate 24 hours of notice to the tenant before you enter. Even if this isn't required, it's a common industry courtesy that tenants have come to expect. You aren't required to provide a notice to enter an emergency situation. These can include floods and fires.

10. Eviction Notice

Most landlords loathe the idea of ever evicting a tenant. Yet, there are times when you have little choice. If the tenant has breached the lease's legal terms, then you might need to free yourself of them. An eviction notice is a document you need to notify them of their eviction. Reasons for eviction can range from nonpayment of rent to violating other conditions of their lease, including property damage or being repeatedly inconsiderate of neighbors.

11. Past Due Rent Notice

rental documents

One of the most important rental forms you'll ever need is a past due rent notice. It's also known as a late rent notice or notice to pay rent. This written letter comes from you, the landlord, and informs the tenant of overdue rent so you can request immediate payment. This isn't as formal as an actual eviction notice, but it's often a crucial part of the process of eviction and one of the most important land.

12. All Communications with Tenants

Track your landlord tenant relationship by keeping copies of all correspondence you have with them. Start with the minute they apply, and don't stop until they move out. This should include texts, emails, and dated notes you take from face-to-face conversations and telephone calls. Detailed notes can protect you in many ways anytime a matter becomes contested between you and the tenants you are communicating with.


Rental documents you need for your property start with the rental application and need to include the formal lease agreement. Our team at 33 Realty is ready to help you and answer all your questions.You need these to protect yourself in terms of legal liability but also to protect your property and wealth. If you need help with any of this, then please contact us as soon as you can.

Written by:
Mark Kurgan

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