As a property manager, you have a lot of information to juggle.
Each time you:
- Take an application
- Sign a new lease
- Collect rent, or
- File an official complaint with the local county clerk's office
- (Among many, many other things)
... you generate a record that needs to be stored, organized, and made easy to retrieve later down the road.
Sooner or later, you may find that you have so many records to handle that it’s impossible for you to accurately organize and store them all.
The solution? A property management records system.
Below, we'll break down how to maintain a records system for rental property and how to use one to maximum effect.
What is a property management records system?
A property management records system is a method or tool for organizing and keeping records related to property management.
A good system enables you to quickly retrieve files and records when necessary, such as for court cases, tax season, and so on.
Property management records can be “homemade”– for example, you make a property management records system that you and your staff know and use every day, typically by way of:
- Physical notepads
- Or spreadsheets
Alternatively, you can use a more complete software tool like DoorLoop to store and organize all of your property management records.
This makes much of the day-to-day business of owning or managing rental properties far easier.
What kinds of records do property managers need to keep?
With any good rental property records system, you keep many different types of records.
Let's talk about some of the major categories:
1. Tenant files
First of these are tenant files. Tenant files are any records related to current and past tenants such as tenant screening, rent payments, and late fees.
- Rental applications and tenant screening reports, including background check documents
- Correspondence about approving or denying rental applications
- Inspection paperwork
- Signed leases or rental agreements in addition to any paperwork changes or updates
- Security deposit records
- Rent payments (including late fees)
- Pet policy agreements and related paperwork
- Notices for rent increases
- Written requests for entry on the part of the landlord
- Maintenance or work order requests
- Eviction paperwork and related records
- Records or notices of lease violations
- And so on
2. Owner files
In addition, this also includes documentation for all owner-related property management services.
- Owner-management agreements, which break down the responsibilities between property owners and property managers or management companies
- Owner property files
- Management fee payment records
- Emails and correspondence between property managers and property owners
- And more
3. Property maintenance and management-related files
This section includes files for property management services related to maintenance, repairs, and documents related to tax time.
- Work orders
- Repair and maintenance requests
- Insurance policies
- Regular inspection records and maintenance updates
- Property photos
- Marketing information for all rental properties
- Vendor screening files
- Vendor contracts
- Vendor payment records
- 1099-MISC documents for tax time
- Vendor invoices and receipts
- Vendor emails and correspondence
4. Financial records
Lastly, rental property records systems typically include financial records such as:
- Bank statements
- Owner ledgers and tenant ledgers
- Personal fund ledgers
- Copies of checks
- Tax statements
- Security deposit records
- Proof of deposit documents or bank deposit slips
- And more
How long should you keep property management records?
It’s important to keep property management records on file and retrievable for different time frames depending on their importance.
The records system for your rental properties should include tools or organizational schemes to let you keep records, tax papers, or documents for as long as necessary.
So, how long do you need to hold onto property management records? It depends.
Hold the following documents for approximately one year after creation:
- Employee applications
- Meeting minutes
- Vendor purchase orders
Plan to hold the following records for three years at a minimum:
- Expired insurance policy paperwork
- Emails and other correspondence
- Banking records
- Internal audit paperwork
Plan to hold these records for seven years at a minimum:
- Expense reports
- Bank statements
- Accounts payable and receivable ledgers
- Accident reports and claims
- Payroll records
- Purchase orders
- Employee records
As for these records, plan to hold them indefinitely:
- External audits
- Deeds and mortgages
- Tax returns
- Property appraisals
- Property records
- General ledger balances
- Year-end financial statements
- Canceled checks for any taxes or property purchases
- Any licenses or permit paperwork
With the right property management tool, keeping these records for as long as necessary is easy.
3. Key steps to maintain a property management records system
Whether you use software or a paper-based property management records system, there are a few key steps you should keep in mind to maintain that system over the long term.
Good management records system maintenance is vital so you can quickly retrieve files when needed and so new files are stored properly.
1. Implement organization-wide filing policies
Firstly, implement filing policies that must be adhered to organization-wide.
Make sure all your team members who operate the system know things like:
- Where to store new files
- How long do new files need to be stored
- How to name new files
- And more
By informing all of your employees of these rules, you give them the tools they need to contribute positively to the management records system and not clutter things up.
Note that you should adhere to these filing policies as well.
A good property management records system only works if everyone follows the same rules and applies the same principles to their filing efforts.
2. Perform regular records organization
Next, regularly go through and reorganize your records.
Try to go through property management records and reorganize, rename, or otherwise fix up your files once per quarter.
Not only does this help you keep track of your filing system, but it also enables you to fix any errors that accidentally slipped through the cracks because someone didn’t adhere to the above-mentioned filing policies.
For example, say that you have lots of tenant paperwork, like rental unit applications, leases, and so on.
Every quarter, take a look through the tenant paperwork part of your property management records system and make sure that everything is named correctly, that each file is easily retrievable, etc.
3. Perform an annual records review
Lastly, plan on an annual records review of your full property management records or files.
This doesn’t mean you need to look through every file individually, nor do you need to rename or open every file.
However, set aside a little time each year – typically around tax season – to go through your files, reorganize things, and collect any of the documents or files you'll need for your tax filings.
As a property manager, you need to claim certain deductions or expenses in order to maximize your tax return.
To do that, you need to access your property management records system and make sure you have all your critical files within arm’s reach.
An annual review is like housekeeping for your property management records system.
Level up your property record keeping with property management software
All these property management records maintenance tips aren’t worth much if you don’t have a good tool to help you and your team execute them.
That’s where a stellar property management solution comes in.
A comprehensive property management software solution offers all the features you need while being interconnected with the tools you use most each day, saving you not only time but also money and a ton of hassle.
How does DoorLoop help you manage records?
There’s no need to search for hours or weeks trying to find a system that does everything we've talked about above.
Instead, use DoorLoop for all your property management services.
DoorLoop is a comprehensive tool built by property managers and owners like you.
It allows you to tackle much of your property management records work from a versatile and flexible dashboard, helping you store and organize rent, tenant complaints, applications, and much more.
Furthermore, DoorLoop lets you handle maintenance requests and vendors through its easy-to-use, intuitive online portal.
The portal helps you keep track of work orders, print checks for vendors, and do much more with a handful of clicks.
Forget having to use a separate software portal for each vendor that works on your rental properties; use DoorLoop and make things simpler for you and your team.
Most importantly, DoorLoop lets you manage all of your files in the same place seamlessly and simultaneously.
All your files are easy to reach, easy to organize, and easy to edit depending on your needs.
DoorLoop cuts down on dozens of hours of work each week thanks to these features and a whole lot more.
Find the best tool for your team
No matter how you decide to track, store, and organize your property management records, we hope this guide helped you get everything in order.
And if you're looking for a tool that makes all that easier, try DoorLoop.
It's the best way to manage all your property records from one place, seamlessly.
DoorLoop makes organizing, storing, finding, and managing all your property management records to be easier than ever.
Schedule a free a demo of DoorLoop to get started!