Guide to Being a Landlord #6: Documentation and Move-In Day

This article is an edited extract from
Michael Drouillard,Self-Counsel Press
March 31, 2016

Landlording in Canada Kit by Michael Drouillard, published by and reprinted here courtesy of Self-Counsel Press. To download the full e-book or for more information, click here

On the day your tenant moves into your rental property, it’s not just a question of handing over the keys. There are important procedures to follow to ensure that both of your interests are being fully met.

Proper Documentation

Prior to move-in day, you and your new tenant will have both signed the residential tenancy agreement. On move-in day, give the tenant copies of all documents signed so far. It’s the law in most provinces. In fact, some provinces permit tenants to withhold paying rent until they receive a copy of the rental agreement.

Here’s a link to where you can find a template residential tenancy agreement, as well as condition inspection (move-in/out) and other useful tenancy forms.

Move-In Inspection

Before you had over the keys, walk around the unit with your tenant and perform the move-in inspection using the condition inspection form. Your tenant should understand that the purpose of the report is to identify damage and urgent repair and maintenance issues. This is not about documenting a few small picture holes in the drywall. The purpose of this report is to avoid confusion later on regarding damage to the property. Show your tenant how to shut off the gas and water valves, as well as the hot water tank, in case of an emergency.

Generally, there should be no damage, repair or maintenance issues left to complete by move-in day. However, this could be a problem if you had a previous tenant who moves out just before the new tenant moves in.

If a serious repair item is found, include it in the report and promise in writing to repair it. This will allay any fears the tenant might have that about moving into a home where maintenance problems aren’t addressed.

Make sure your tenant signs the report and have them initial any photos you took of the property. Make sure all photos are initialled and dated.

You will provide your tenant with a copy of the report and photos shortly after they move in.

Collect the Money

Collect the first month’s rent and agreed damage deposit. You must be paid in full with cash or certified funds. A personal cheque, a partial rent payment or a promise to pay later are completely unacceptable. Give the tenant a receipt.

Sum It Up in a Letter

It is also advisable to give your new tenant a letter outlining your expectations for rent payments, the reporting of maintenance problems, and other common landlord/tenant issues.

The letter prepares the tenant for your policies and procedures. For example, the tenant is told ahead of time that eviction notices are served the day after the rent was due. You don’t want the tenant to be surprised to receive an eviction notice the day after the rent was due. You are setting the tone of a successful landlord/tenant relationship where you, the landlord, are in charge.

Next time: What to do when the rent is overdue