What key issues should be included in tenant onboarding practices?

Tenant onboarding welcomes the new tenant to the rental unit by providing detailed information on rental policies, procedures, rules and regulations. The onboarding practice helps the tenant understand his/her legal obligations and duties by landlord-tenant statutes and by the lease terms and conditions. The goal of the onboarding session is to familiarize the tenant with key rental policies as well as housekeeping items that can help the tenant quickly settle into his new home.

Since the amount of information provided during onboarding can be overwhelming to the new tenant who is anxious to move in, it is a good business practice to provide the tenant with a Welcome packet containing copies of all signed documents – lease agreement and addendum, move-in inspection checklist with notations of unit condition and schedule of corrective actions, and key control policy with attached receipt of key transfer – along with helpful tips and reminders of information that was covered during the onboarding session, particularly contact numbers, rent payment procedures, and procedures for maintenance requests.

Key items discussed during tenant onboarding can include:

Landlord Identification and Contact information – The name of the business entity and/or the rental community name, the landlord’s name, address, phone number, and email address.

Emergency Contact Information – The name and contact information of a person authorized as a 24/7 emergency contact if different from the landlord or an alternate contact if the landlord is not available.

Business Hours and After-Hours Information – Office hours and after-hours contact information, e.g. the landlord’s message service, landlord website, or tenant portal web address.

Renters Insurance Requirement – Reminder that the lease requires proof of tenant’s renters insurance. The landlord’s property insurance does not cover the tenant’s personal property or tenant’s negligence in the event of theft, accident, fire, injury, or other harmful event.

Rent policies – (1) due date, (2) rent amount, (3) manner of payment, (4) grace period, (5) late charges, (6) insufficient funds policy, and (7) other rent issues.

Security Deposit – State landlord-tenant statutes regulate the collection, handling, and return of security deposit funds. At tenant move-out the security deposit will be applied to costs of cleaning, damages, and unpaid rent. The security deposit cannot be applied to the last month’s rent.

Security and Safety – Provide instructions for operation of door locks, deadbolt, window locks and other security measures.

Inspections – Annual property inspection of unit and grounds. Other inspections may be conducted for health and safety issues as specified by local building codes or ordinances.

Smoke Detectors/Carbon Monoxide Alarms/Fire Extinguishers – Provided in each rental unit.

Maintenance and Repair –Tenant is responsible to keep the rental unit in good condition throughout the tenancy and to promptly report maintenance/repair issues to landlord.

Keys – The tenant is responsible for the return of all keys issued at time of move-in. Requests for additional keys or rekeying of locks must be made in writing to landlord.

Parking – Only registered vehicles allowed in assigned parking spaces. Parking of over-sized or utility type vehicles prohibited. Guest parking allowed only in designated area.

Mailboxes – Location of tenant mailbox and mailbox keys provided at move-in.

Guests – Landlord written approval is required for long-term guest stays. Lease terms and conditions should be referenced for specific details.

Pets – Refer to the Pet Addendum for specific pet restrictions and requirements.

No Smoking – Smoke-free property. No smoking allowed in rental unit or in common areas.

Laundry and Storage – Laundry facilities and storage areas are furnished as a convenience for tenants. Landlord will not be responsible for loss or damage incurred as a result of tenant’s use of facilities or storage.

Trash Removal – General rules for trash, garbage, and recycling.

Landlord Notifications for Entry – Landlord entry to rental unit according to permissible reasons defined by statute and lease terms and conditions and appropriate notification to tenant.

During the physical move-in inspection of the rental unit, the landlord can provide the tenant with the location and instructions for the care and use of system components such as the location of the breaker panel, the main water shut-off valve, water shut-off valves inside the unit, operation of heating and air conditioning unit(s), water heater temperature controls and shut-off, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, or other supplied equipment. Additionally the tenant should be provided with instructions for the care and cleaning of appliances.

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