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11 Critical Documents Every Landlord Should Have

Every landlord should have 11 critical documents. Even if property investing is your hobby, CRA considers it a business with legal responsibilities if you’re charging money for rent. To protect yourself legally, document everything.

At their most basic level, enforceable agreements/contracts contain an offer of acceptance, certainty of terms, consideration, an intention to create legal relations; capacity of the parties; legality of purposes. They also must be signed and dated by all relevant parties.

What 11 Critical Documents should a landlord have?

  • The rental application

A rental agreement specifies the information you need to make a decision about the suitability of your tenant. It should contain a variety of questions about former addresses, employment, credit, number of people requiring the property, number of pets, etc. If you’re ever challenged in court, asking a range of standard questions of each applicant shows you as being a fair landlord.

  • Credit check authorization

Before you run a credit check, tenants must grant you legal permission to authorize a credit check for their rental application.

  • The Lease Agreement

A well-written lease agreement clarifies every rental agreement term and specifies rules and regulations for both the tenant and landlord. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the most comprehensive, current,  and understandable lease agreements are usually those created by municipal non-profit organizations. They have groups of real estate lawyers who update their leases with current legislation and ensure they are thorough and easy to read. 

  • Move-in/move-out inspection report

A move-in/move-out inspection reports and tracks the property’s condition from the beginning to the end of the tenancy. It’s well worth including images and videos to avoid disputes and act as legal proof. Without a move-in/move-out inspection, you can’t charge tenants for damages.

  • Property inspection report

Property insurance companies require owners of rental properties to conduct regular maintenance inspections. Check-in with your insurance provider for the number of visits needed. Regardless of insurance requirements, regular walk-throughs identify potential issues and keep your investment running smoothly. It also shows tenants you are keeping an eye on the property.

  • Addendums

Whatever changes you agree to make to the lease – document. Whether you’re allowing a pet into the property or agreeing to an additional roommate, document the changes.

  • Move-out cleanup checklist agreement

To eliminate misunderstandings about who is responsible for what, itemize the cleaning expectations for every room and item.

  • Move out fees

Tenants appreciate knowing the costs in advance for repairs, replacements, or cleaning. Documenting eliminates any confusion about pricing.

  • Invoices, bills document storage/tracking

CRA expects you to collect, track, and store your invoices and receipts for up to three years. There are software programs that help with this; for landlords of small portfolios, is an excellent tool that streamlines the processes and has cloud storage for easy access – and it’s free if you have under three units.

  • Communication tracking

Landlord-tenant software programs allow tenants to communicate, log in maintenance requests, pay rent, track maintenance progress, store leases, notifications, and other documentation. It centralizes, simplifies, and organizes your landlording life. Get into the habit of logging your documents from the get-go; it’ll save you time in the future.

  • Statement of account after the move-out inspection

This document summarizes the account, deductions, security deposit, and any amount refunded, and usually includes copies of receipts for repairs or replacements.

In addition to the above forms, other documents you may need include:

  • Notice to vacate
  • Notice to terminate
  • No smoking
  • Rental increase
  • Pet agreements

Each province/state have their specific landlord-tenant laws, and it is essential to know which rules/forms apply to your city/province/state/country.

Lastly, everything must come to an end, and when destroying tenant records after their three-year mark, make sure you are following the correct procedures for FOIP, PIPA, and PIPEDA.

Are you on top of your landlording documentation? I’d love to hear your tips [email protected]

Click here to access 10 Essential Editable Landlord forms

To take advantage of these landlord hacks and get access to even more helpful tips, tools, and educational resources for DIY landlords, sign up for a membership for Landlord Fundamentals 101. To save even more time and money, combine Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching to qualify for the Canada Alberta Job Grant.

Do you have employees who would benefit from taking Landlord Fundamentals 101 with one-on-one coaching? Talk to me about group discounts [email protected]

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