Picture this. Your kids are tucked in bed, the dinner dishes are washed, and you just sat down to relax by watching your favorite TV show. Then the phone rings. As you jump up to answer it your heart pounds, because we all know as landlords when the phone rings during off hours it’s usually an emergency. And this time it is. It’s that call from a tenant that all landlords dread. A tenant calls to say her toilet is clogged and there’s water all over the floor.
Oh no, not again. For some reason this tenant’s toilet is always clogged. Oh my gosh, I think to myself, am I going to have to repipe the house? I don’t know if I have the cash to do that.
“Have you tried plunging it?” I ask.
She replies, “Several times and it’s still clogged.”
You tell her you’ll call a plumber first thing in the morning.
She comes back with, “What? Tomorrow? What should I do in the meantime?”
Be creative, you think to yourself. “You can use the toilet, just don’t flush it,” you tell her.
When the plumber arrives in the morning, he brings to your attention that for the last three years he’s been coming to this same house to unclog the toilet, and each time he finds a different toy as the cause of the stoppage. You tell the tenant that it’s stated in her lease agreement that she’s responsible for the repair cost if she were the cause of the damage. She said that wasn’t true and asked for a copy of her rental agreement. So, you go home to get the lease agreement, and can’t find it. Oh my gosh, what are you going to do now? You search everywhere, even on your computer, but you still can’t find it. After four frustrating days, you find it, of all places, in a pile of paperwork you’ve been meaning to file.
Most Mom & Pop landlords know, on top of your landlord responsibilities, regular day job, dinners to cook, and families to raise, there’s not enough time in a day to get everything done, and as a result the paperwork piles up. The reality is, you have to be able to produce your documents when requested. Interestingly enough, you give your tenant a copy of her lease agreement and you never hear from her again about a toilet stoppage.
Solution: Create a Filing System
The simplest way to find your paperwork is to create a filing system for easy access. There are many ways to accomplish this. You can scan and upload files to your computer, file them in a filing cabinet, or use a binder. In my opinion, using a binder is the best option because you have your documents at reach whenever you need it. Even if you keep everything on your computer, a printed back-up is essential. Here are some ways to get started:
- You’ll need a binder and a table of contents.
- Fill out your Table of Contents with the items you’ll be storing in your binder. See #3 below.
- Gather your documents; rental agreements, addendums, 24-hour notices, rent log, move-in/move-out, maintenance & repair log, mortgage statements, insurance bills, tax bill, etc.
- File your documents in your binder.
To keep your paperwork from piling up, file it as soon as possible. If you’re still having trouble figuring out how you’re going to gather and organize your documents, visit my website at www.simplyshiral.com and check out my “Time to Get Organized” Class. You’ll learn a simple way to store your important documents. By the end of the class, you’ll have an effective filing system so you’ll never have to search for paperwork again.
Now, get up and start gathering those documents, because it’s time to get organized!
Want to learn more? Visit my website at www.simplyshiral.com to view the simple affordable classes I offer that help you gain confidence and profits.
Shiral Torres teaches rental property management classes at local colleges and through her business, Simply Shiral. She believes keeping life simple is the key to success. She and her husband own and manage multiple properties in California and throughout the country. The author of Rental Property Made Simple (available at amazon.com), Shiral is also a volunteer support group facilitator and Walk to End Alzheimer’s committee member for the Alzheimer’s Association.