This page lists all the documents you will ever need signing up new tenants. There is a link to find materials for sale, and then under that is a download button for members. Contact us about full access membership.
I. Customized Lease Documents
1. The Residential Rental Agreement: a fully editable lease document that you will add your name to, make some adjustments for fees and percentages, add your brand and be up and running in minutes. You would pay an attorney several thousand dollars to get this document and you still wouldn’t have all the writer’s experience and all the money-making ideas.
2. Instructions to Adapt the Residential Rental Agreement to Your Company: instructions to Adapt the Residential Rental Agreement to Your Company Another document to help you fill in the right information so your final agreement says exactly what you want. This document identifies 22 blanks to fill in so you don’t miss anything in the agreement to adapt it to your model.
3. Residential Rental Agreement with Instructor’s Notes: a full document filled in with instructor training notes after every paragraph (14 pages long) addressing each issue in detail.
Be sure every tenant signs a pet exhibit so every detail is covered on every lease. If they have a pet you want them to tell you breed, weight, color and name so they don’t sneak in a different one. You also want to remind them of the six things they need to do after move-out to get their deposit back. If they don’t have a pet you need to remind them of the costs, penalties and process you’ll go through if you discover a pet. Let them know there are serious penalties if they try to hide one from you.
You should articulate exactly what maintenance issues the tenant is responsible for in writing. This document addresses the nuisance items you are trying to prevent like after hours maintenance, missed appointments, flipping GFI switches, resetting garbage disposals, changing out all light bulbs and other nickel-dime nuisance maintenance items. We’ve learned the precise balance between pushing off habitability issues to them (which you must not do) and holding them responsible for nuisance maintenance calls.
Owners frequently ask, “how do you prevent/manage tenant’s request to complete unnecessary repairs and running up the owner’s tab?” This document will help answer that question.
In our model the tenant signs a move-in inspection and this checklist. We want them to testify that the window locks work as do the door locks; the smoke detectors are working (they never check them); and how many keys and garage door openers they received. This has items on it we’ve missed up over the years and don’t want to miss them again. We do 40 move-ins per month and we’ll get it wrong if we don’t have this checklist. It keeps growing as we continue to learn and it will evolve as you evolve. This also serves as a report to the owner of any deferred maintenance that needs attention and documents both urgent and not so urgent needs.
Some tenants like visuals (an easy reminder) so here’s a chart of who is responsible for what. It’s all in the lease but is often not read. This is something they can tape to their refrigerator to remind them of what they can call you for and what they need to take care of themselves. We like it simple and this makes it simple.
Pay close attention to this as it is the topic of debates and litigation. Make sure you’re on the right side of this and disclose, train, warn and follow up. This document is both a training piece and a CYA regarding the claims of mold, what they have to do and how you’ll respond if they feel there is more than the normal moisture in the property.
This is a 3-page educational piece developed over the years to protect the owner from claims of mold and claims of health issues. Give it to your residents to prepare them to deal with issues of mold. It prevents them from claiming mold the last month they are there or because they want a way out of the lease without paying the early termination fees. You want to be able to tell the judge “we did everything we could to prepare the resident to address these issues before they moved in.” It puts the burden on them to report mold. Not 2 years after it’s discovered but within 2 days.
There needs to be an enforceable document that lets the tenant know they are approved and lists the terms of the lease and who to contact. This identifies the start date, move-in date, rent, deposits, fees, utility companies and other critical data for their occupancy. It puts their deposit at risk and identifies what happens if they change their mind. If you get the lease signed immediately, you probably don’t need this. We don’t get the lease signed until 3-4 days before move-in so we use this to “lock them in” without having to sign the lease immediately. We purposely delay executing the lease because we’ve had some tenants request the lease in advance and back out over something they don’t like (fees, charges, etc). For us it is a 2-step process. The Official Notice of Approval commits them and gets the first month’s rent. Then, close to the move-in date when they are less likely to back out, we execute the lease.
Houses built before 1978 often used lead paint which has been discovered to be toxic and a serious health hazard. Federal law requires that you have the owner and tenant sign this to disclose the presence of (or lack of) this poison in the home. The owner signs this document to reveal any knowledge they have regarding any lead paint in their home. Copy the original the owner signs and have every tenant sign a copy before you move them in. Use the same original over and over. Just have the tenant sign a copy and keep it with other important tenant documents.
This two-sided document is CYA by introducing (and counting) the number of smoke detectors in the property and addressing renters insurance. You want to document that there are smoke detectors and remind them you provide them but they have charged batteries in them. It also reminds them the owner’s insurance doesn’t cover their personal belongings. We don’t require renters insurance but we do inform them of the need to get coverage. They sign this at move in, documenting the discussion so they can’t blame you if something happens to their contents.
Clearly state the fines they pay if utilities are off at move out or have a balance due with the utility company when they leave the property. Give them the utility company name and phone number to help them get service turned on before move in. Also, outline your property visit policy including surprise visits when there is cause to believe there is a problem.
This is a big CYA document. If the HOA does stupid by booting the tenant’s car because the owner hasn’t paid his dues or threatened to evict the tenant you need to be protected from litigation. The owner will ignore the HOA to get it leased and you’ll deal with the battles when the HOA wakes up to the reality that there is a new tenant in the community. You want the tenant giving you a hold harmless agreement when the HOA can’t open the pool or tennis courts because not enough owners have paid their dues. You need to protect yourself against the possibility of being sued for constructive eviction, wrongful dispossessory, loss of quiet enjoyment or harassment by the HOA. Tenants want to blame you for everything no matter whose fault it really is. Protect yourself.
When three guys want to move in together make sure you get them on a separate document outlining your requirements for roommates. Remind them that you’ll only take one rent check (not three) and that you’ll only cut one check back to them after move-out. Make sure you disclose that you’ll go after the one with great credit no matter who trashed the property. Let them know up front that you’ll never drop anyone off the lease whether they still live there or not. Roommates love each other when they move in but like other community efforts they go astray more often than you think.
The last thing you want is to suggest to a tenant that the hot tub will stay hot or keep working. Disclose your lack of knowledge with hot tub maintenance and your general unfamiliarity with how they work. Put the entire burden on them and warn them about the dangers of it getting to hot and someone getting burned. You may even require they get renter’s insurance with you (and the owner) as additional insured. See our document on the owner sign up documents for the other side of the hot tub issue.
Often only one tenant will be able to attend the move-in inspection or will not be around to sign the lease. For many reasons you need to get comfortable completing a POA. One tenant can sign for the other tenant if you have a POA. We use them often. You just email this document to them, they fill it out (or you fill it out in advance), they print, execute, get a notary and you’re up and running. This is a very common document and you’ll find lots of uses for it. This is not the practice of law so don’t let your broker or attorney talk you out of it. It’s just filling in the blank like you do on every lease or sales contract. It’s a standard operating document for property managers.
When the owner leaves behind their lawn furniture, pool table, lawn tractor, counter top microwave you need a form to list everything and language that has the tenant promising to leave it behind when they leave. They won’t, but you need to make a stab at it to impress your owner. There is little you can do to protect the owner from this stuff growing legs and walking away but the owner wants you to make an effort. This document fulfills that duty to the owner.
Occasionally the house is not clean enough, repairs have not been completed, carpets didn’t get clean enough or the handy man (or owner) didn’t clean up his mess. Some tenants want to hold your feet to the fire for five years and remind you what a bad job you did at move-in. This document takes all the air out of them by saying “you shouldn’t take this property now. Let’s retry this inspection in a couple of days so we can get this right.” Many can’t wait and will press to take it “as is”. This document says “you’re recommending they not take it today, but wait, and let us make it right.” Sometimes they must have possession today, and will agree to ‘not hold it against you.’ This is “the moving van is in the street and I’ll take it anyway” document to cover the manager. This document is a result of getting beat up many times when we let people take a property that is not ready.
When you know the tenant is military, or works for a military support company, and qualifies for a military out clause in their lease, you want to make sure they don’t take advantage of that federal out privilege. They have requirements to fulfill and just saying “I’m being transferred and you can’t hold me to the lease” doesn’t cut it. This document lays out the rules for military release of tenancy without your giving up your rights.
When there is a cosigner you need a document for them to sign promising to pay what the tenant left owing when they move out. This is their personal guarantee for the tenant’s obligations on the lease. We have made lots of mistakes with this idea over the years and now have it down pat. We get co-signors on about 20% of our leases and it works like a charm. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Let our mistakes make it easier for you.
When a tenant previews a property and sees a security system it is reasonable that they expect it to be up and running when they move in, and that it is included in the rent. You need to dispel that expectation and protect yourself from the liabilities of what happens if it fails. This is a CYA document letting the tenant know that it is their responsibility to deal with the monitoring system and the cost belongs to them. You are not making any representations as to its reliability, its functionality or its cost. You know nothing, see nothing and they agree to hold you harmless if the system does not function properly.
We often get more than one month’s rent as a security deposit. Depending on their credit we will agree to take installments on some of that deposit. We did it badly for many years and struggled with getting judges to enforce our documents. We finally went to our attorney and paid to get it right. Now we are able to enforce this document and evict for failure to pay as agreed. It’s not 100% but we are successful 85% of the time. Taking installments on the deposit probably needs the owner’s approval depending on your model.
II. Qualifying Guideline Documents
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