Rental Property Tenant Onboarding

screening tenants

Ready to begin onboarding a new tenant? Let's get started.

Tenant Profile Organization

The first step is to make sure that you are organizing everything properly. Starting both a physical and digital folder is a great way to log all necessary information during and beyond the onboarding process. Before filing items relevant to this checklist, you've probably already got a bunch of documentation from the tenant's screening process like a background check, credit check, employment/income verification and perhaps a few references from previous landlords. Be sure to keep all of that information with the documents you will be sending and receiving as you work through this checklist.

Collect tenant information

These days almost everything is done online, in the cloud, yet it's still important to keep a physical record of all relevant documentation. The main advantage is that it gives you a reliable back up source of information if any legal issues arise during the tenant's stay. It is also a good way to assure the tenant and landlord that the documentation is stored safely in a hard-copy folder rather than just floating around online. The truth is, there will undoubtedly be a number of occasions where you either need or would prefer to check something in a physical file rather than search for it on a computer.

Start a new digital folder for the tenant

In addition to your hard-copy file, set up a well-organized folder in your property management software to monitor and keep track of the tenant as they progress through the onboarding process.

A good way to set it up is to create subfolders for each section in this checklist:

  1. Lease Procedures
  2. Financial Considerations
  3. Ongoing Communication & Maintenance

Lease Procedures

Now that you've established a well-organized log of the tenant's profile, it's time to move on to completing all necessary lease procedures. Explain all rules and procedures to the tenant As the realtor or letting agent, it is your responsibility to fully explain all of the rules and procedures regarding the property. This is a critical first step that must be completed before issuing the lease agreement. A large chunk of the explaining should be done on-site. For example, make sure that the tenant understands how the heater, boiler, and other operating appliances function and how they are maintained. Much of this communication can also be done off-site during an informal meeting.

  • Who should they reach out to if they experience a problem?
  • What is the correct process for filing a complaint?
  • What is the emergency protocol?
  • What are the rules regarding late rent payment?

These are just some of the important questions that must be clarified early on in the process so that the tenant feels comfortable and well informed. All rules and procedures should be explained verbally and through a written document

Rules & Procedures document

Ensure all questions and concerns have been settled

Once you have explained all relevant information, it is expected that the tenant will have a number of questions or even concerns. These must be taken seriously and settled before sending them the lease, otherwise neither you nor the tenant will feel totally comfortable with the agreement. Take the time to make sure that they have peace of mind in knowing that everything has been agreed upon and feel excited to complete the deal.

If this step is done properly, the rest will be smooth sailing :)

Issue lease agreement

Once you, the tenant, and the landlord feel comfortable with all of the terms and conditions, it's time to go ahead and issue the lease agreement and begin the process of finalizing the move-in. Lease agreements vary greatly depending on the property and landlord, so make sure that every section of the document meets the specific requirements and is aligned with the rules and procedures that have been explained beforehand. The best case scenario is, of course, that the document brings no surprises what so ever to the applicant, and it's a simple case of reading through it to clarify what has already been stated. For your records, enter the date that you issued the agreement below:

Receive signed lease agreement

Hopefully that didn't take too long! Be sure to carefully review the signed document and make copies!

Signed lease agreement

If the tenant wishes to move in their cuddly friend along with them, you will need to issue a pet agreement form.

An alternative form is available for download below:

Make physical copies of all lease documents

It's essential that copies of all documentation related to the lease are made as soon as possible. This is important not only for your record keeping but also the tenant's.

Send copies to the tenant within a week

Once the lease agreement and other related paperwork have been signed, reviewed and copied, it's important that you send copies to the tenant for their own record keeping. Doing so within a week shows that you are well organized and doing your part.

Financial Considerations

Receive entire security deposit via certified method

Before requesting the security deposit, you must advise the tenant on who will be holding the security deposit. Is it the real estate agency you work for or the landlord? Once this has been clarified, request for the deposit to be paid in it's entirety via a certified method such as a certified check, cashier's check or money order. If the tenant feels at all unsure about anything regarding the deposit, you can guide them to this handy guide to security deposit law.

Security deposit - Date received

Receive rent payment for first month

Along with the security deposit, make sure you have received rent payment for the first month. Rent payment for first month - Date received

Note: Checks must be cleared. This may take 1-2 weeks after deposit. Do you want the checks to bounce?

Start the Tenant Move In Inspection

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Property Management