Maintaining records for all of the housing units in your community is a good property management practice. Below is a list of items that should be included in the tenant file for each housing unit.
Signed Tenant Application
This document will provide housing managers with an overview of the tenant and allow them to make an informed decision on who is most suitable for your vacant housing unit. It can also be used to assess applicants based on a tenant selection policy (if available). The tenant application form should be developed by council guided by the policy and with consultation from community members.
A lease is a contract between the tenant/renter and the First Nation. The lease outlines the terms and conditions of the agreement between the First Nation and the tenant for a particular house.
Although they may not be legally required, lease agreements are a good practice as they lay out exactly what the First Nation and the tenant can expect of each other and what they have to do. Putting these expectations and responsibilities in a formal agreement can help reduce misunderstanding or problems and can also make dealing with tenants in the future more effective. It is important to go over the lease agreement with tenants in person to make sure they understand their expectations and responsibilities.
Typically, lease agreements should include information on the following:
- Length of lease;
- Any financial fees (including when fees are due);
- Steps that will be taken if fees are not paid (if applicable);
- Requirements of First Nation and the tenant;
- Requirements on upkeep, including who is responsible for repairs and renovations;
- Services included or excluded (heating, electricity, etc);
- Information on how the lease can be cancelled (either by the tenant or the First Nation);
- General rental terms and conditions;
- Information on a security deposit (if required); and
- Transfer of ownership for rent-to-own agreements (if applicable).
This list is not complete. A lease agreement should be customized to your First Nation. Sample leases can be found by searching the internet.
Tenant Related Correspondence
Records of all correspondence between the First Nation and the tenants should be kept on record. This helps to prevent any confusion should issues arise later.
Move in/move Out Inspection Report
The move in/move out inspection report compares the condition of the unit before a tenant moves in to when they move out to identify and document any damage. The tenant should be there when these inspections are taking place.
Rental Charges Form
Some First Nations choose to track rental charges manually. Others choose to track rental charges electronically. Whatever the format, the form used to track charges should include basic information, such as name and telephone number for the tenant, address or other house identification information, and the current rental charge. When a payment is made, the date of the payment, the period the payment is for and the method of payment should be recorded.
Other important documents to keep with tenant files include:
- Tenant profiles,
- Site and building plans,
- Current and previous income verifications and rent calculation forms,
- A list of all repair requests made;
- Information on all repairs done, including when the repair was made and how much it cost; and
- A list of appliances (including model and serial number).