When you are performing tenant screening on applicants for a rental home or apartment, you will have to deal with plenty of documents and paperwork. Because of the legal and tax implications of being a landlord, you will need to retain much of this paperwork for many years. Keeping your records from tenant screening organized can help you to find what you need without wasting your time. Keep these organizational tips in mind for organizing your tenant records.
Each applicant will submit a variety of paperwork to you as part of the process to become a tenant. You will collect documents even before the tenants move in, including applications, credit reports and references. You may wish to keep a specific file for applications that are rejected and have those separate from the tenants you accept. Maintaining the paperwork on rejected applicants can be done as a way to protect yourself against claims of discrimination. When you accept a tenant, you may wish to keep their application, credit report and references in an active folder with other information that you collect during the rental period.
Documents for Each Unit and Tenant
When you accept a tenant, it is in your best interest to maintain an active file on them. This file should include their references, credit report and original application. The signed lease should also go in the file. While they are living in your apartment or rental house, add any written or emailed correspondence, requests for entry and requests for repair. Move in and move out letters should be included in a tenant file. When a tenant stays long enough for a lease renewal, include the updated signed lease. If you choose to raise the rent, include that documentation as well. If you take photos of the unit before the move in process, place those in the file. Move out photos taken after the tenant has vacated the property should also be included, especially if you do not return the tenant’s security deposit due to damage.
Receipts and Tax Documents
As the owner of property that is a rental unit, you are able to make tax deductions on repairs that you perform. You should maintain a file for each property or unit for tax purposes. The unit-based file should include receipts related to any repair or replacement work that has been performed on the unit. This includes receipts for painting, new carpeting, cleaning and replacement of appliances. You will also need to keep receipts for professional services such as electrical work, heating and air conditioning maintenance and repairs and pest control. Keep all paperwork related to tax deductions for at least seven years in case of an audit.