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Essential Landlord-Tenant Documentation

As a landlord, it is important to ensure you have the right documentation in place. This is important because you need to make sure you are protecting yourself as well as your tenant. Of these essential documents that we will mention in this article, you may or may not need to have all of them in place for each of your tenants. Your experience with your tenant can really depend on which of these documents you will need. However, at the very least, you will need to have a lease agreement in place which is signed by both you and the tenant.

Lease Agreement

A lease agreement is one of the most important documents in your landlord and tenant relationship. It is the agreement that sets the tone for the entire relationship and outlines what the tenant is responsible for as well as what the landlord is responsible for. You should take a lot of care when crafting this agreement because it is a legally binding agreement and one that will clearly set the boundaries and tone.


You do not ever want to let someone move into a rental property of yours without having a lease agreement in place. If this happens, then you have no legal footing to stand on if you ever do need to take action. This is an agreement that will not only protect you and the property, but also the tenant. It really defines the relationship so everyone has a positive result in the end and so everyone remains happy throughout the course of the lease.

A lease agreement should be drafted and then given to the tenant. Make sure that all of the information is correct and then have the document signed by both the landlord and the tenant; otherwise, it will not be a lease agreement that has been legally agreed upon by both parties and will also not be a binding agreement. This can be a very lengthy agreement, so make sure you spend some time on this and follow a checklist.

Move-In and Move-Out Inspection Forms

As part of the process for both moving in and moving out of the property, make sure that you and the tenant complete a move-in and move-out inspection form. This document is in place to ensure both of you are protected from excess costs for repair.

Upon move-in, you should walk through the property with the tenant and allow them to notate anything that is already damaged. The reason you want to do this is so that you do not charge the current tenant for any damage that the previous tenant caused. If this is done prior to move-in and you want to fix these issues, you can do so, but you will need to let the tenant walk through the property for another move-in inspection prior to them moving in. At the same time, when it is time for them to move out of the property, you should again walk through the property with the tenant and complete the move-out inspection. Compare the notes from the move-in inspection to ensure that you are not noting any prior damage on the inspection form.

Once you know the extent of any damage, you can assess costs. Of course, anything that would be considered normal wear and tear should not be included in the repair costs that you charge the tenant that is moving out of the property. You should be sure to distinguish between these when you are estimating the cost of any damage to the property upon move-out.

Notice to Enter the Property

From time to time, you may need to give notice to your current tenant of when you need to enter the property. This can happen for a variety of reasons including:

  • when you need to come in to complete a maintenance job,
  • you are doing a regular inspection,
  • you need to show the property to another potential tenant, or
  • there is some other logical reason to enter the property.

As a landlord, you cannot enter the property on your own, even though you are the owner of the property. Since you have leased the property to a tenant, you no longer have the right to come and go as you please. If you do need to enter the property, you must provide proper notice to your current tenant to let them know when and why you will be entering the property. Even though the reasons for entering may vary depending on what the current situation is, the form that you use can be very standard and you can make small changes to the form as needed to make it unique for that situation.

As long as you have a template ready to go at any time, you should not have any trouble making these forms in real time to provide to your tenant. On the form, you should include a few key things such as when you plan on entering the property and why you plan to enter. You must have a valid reason for entering the property and give notice to your tenant at least 24 hours in advance of you entering the property.

Other Notices to Tenants

A notice to enter the property is not the only type of notice you may have to give your tenant. Some other types of notices include a notice to clean up the property, a notice of other violation, or even a late rent notice. These types of notices, just like the notice to enter the property, can be very standard in nature and you can build them out to be very specific for the type of notice that it is.

Just taking the time to create a standard notice template will give you everything you need to create these notices quickly and efficiently.

The importance of these notices, especially if they are to indicate that the tenant has violated one of the terms of the lease agreement, is that they serve as written warnings. You should make sure that you keep all of these notices in one file as well as record when you provided the notice to the tenant. This will allow you to use these warnings in court if you are ever in that situation. Not only will it give a reminder to the tenant of something they should be doing, but it will also serve as a formal warning if needed.

Notice to Increase Rent

If you have a tenant in place for more than a year, you will typically want to raise the rent along with the market increase. This is not something that you can just do, however. If your tenant has been in place with a lease agreement for longer than one year and the lease indicates that the rental amount will not change during the initial lease term, you will not be able to change the rental price. If there is nothing in the rental agreement that indicates that the price cannot be changed, you do have the right to raise the rent.

You should be careful before you take any action to read through the lease to really see what it says and what you can do as the landlord in terms of the rental amount. If you can raise the rental amount and you would like to do so, you will need to provide your tenant with a notice to increase the rental amount. This form will outline the new rental rates as well as when they will officially go into effect in the lease. In some states, you are required to provide a notice to your tenant to set the amount of time before you actually increase the rent to the new rate. This is not always true in every state, so you should make sure that you check this with your local laws to ensure you are abiding by them and providing your tenant with enough time to prepare for the increase. Many landlords do this when a lease is expiring to notify their current tenant of the increased rate should they wish to renew the rent. Other landlords may do this if a tenant is on a month-to-month lease and they wish to make the increase. Remember, you cannot make the change in the middle of a lease unless the lease indicates that you can do so.

New Tenancy Form

When you have approved of a new tenant for your property, you should provide them with a form that indicates your permission to move in to the property. This form has become a bit less formal over time and could simply be an approval notice in response to an application for the rental property that has been submitted by the tenant.


In this form, you need to indicate that, as the owner of the property, you are giving your permission for the tenant to enter and reside in the residence upon completion of the lease agreement with them. You will essentially give them this notice to let them know that the intent is for them to move in once all other required steps are completed. The tenant can use this form to provide notice to their current landlord as well as to provide notice to other agencies such as a bank or even their current job if they need to request a verification of employment or income history as a requirement before they move in. It is also something they can use as verification that they will be moving if they need to provide that to any other agencies during the time before a lease agreement is in place. As a rule of thumb, this should be provided to them as soon as you can provide it.

Notice to Evict

No landlord wants to face the idea that they may have to evict their tenant. However, it is something that can happen from time to time. It is best to be prepared for this possibility with the right notice on hand. In most states, you cannot simply evict someone from a property without taking the proper legal steps. One of these requirements is serving your tenant with your notice to evict.


An eviction notice will indicate that you do plan on evicting the tenant based on a lease violation, whether that is nonpayment of the rent or another violation. This is where the other types of notices, mentioned before as a notice to provide a written warning, can come into play. You can list when warnings were given and indicate that if the tenant does not rectify the situation by a specific date, you will move forward with filing for eviction and taking them to court. Of course, since every state is different, you should take a look at what is required in your state and follow the steps as they are given to you. You will likely need to still provide this notice, but the remaining steps will depend on what the local law dictates. This is usually the first step, so it is good to have it ready when needed.

Conclusion

No matter what state you or your rental property is located in, these forms are essential for ensuring that you can protect your property, your tenant, and yourself. In the long run, you will have a lot more success as a landlord when you have these documents in place and ready to go as needed. Some forms will need to have more time spent on them than others, but that does not mean that one is more important than another. Make sure you have these ready and can alter them as needed for your specific tenants and situations.

LegalNature can help you with all your legal form needs. Let us help you get started today. Click here to create your landlord and tenant forms now.

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