Tenant Management Tips – Lease File and Record Keeping in Commercial Property Management

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Understand all of your tenants leases totally, so you can stay on top of all critical dates and triggers.

When you manage or lease a commercial property it pays to have a good filing system when it comes to the tenancy mix in every property.  Every tenant should have a series of files that allow you to get to information fast and effectively.  When things are happening in a tenant matter, you want to go the right file and get what you need to respond in a timely and effective way.

In properties with a lot of tenants, the filing system is highly important.  That then brings me to another issue of just who looks after the files and places records and activities in the ‘right file’.  If you do not file the right information, then the property management activities get difficult.  When something goes wrong you simply do not know where to go, or you need a lot of time to get to an answer for the landlord or the tenant.

The trick to all of this is that you build a good property management and tenant filing system from the very start of the property management appointment.

Some may argue that you have the ability to scan documents and store them on some ‘hard drive’, and that is just fine, but the reality of the industry is that you do need some paper files to review and work with.

Here are some ideas to help you get your property management filing system up and running:

  1. Each tenancy should have a correspondence file of current and past issues.  This is where you go to look at letters and notes relating to current tenant matters.  This file is also important from an historic perspective; you can go back and see what happened and how issues were agreed.  This is really important where some tenants are not following the lease terms and conditions.
  2. At the front of the tenant file, place a summary sheet of lease terms and conditions that you can quickly refer to in the case of a question or problem.  This sheet should be inserted in the file at the start of any property management appointment and leasing negotiation.  This information sheet should be updated as the terms of tenant occupancy change.
  3. Any income matters of rent review, option, renewal, alterations, and rent splits should be entered into the property computer records using a standard template form of record.  When this entry has been done, the form can be placed in the tenant file for future reference.
  4. A copy of the lease and any other lease papers or licences should be held on file.  Notice I said ‘copy’ and not ‘original’.  It is not a good practice to keep original lease documentation in your office; if you have a fire, or if you lose the file the ramifications are not good especially if you have a lot of properties and tenants.
  5. Any lease alterations and special billings for the tenant should be recorded on the tenants file for reference.

Good property records and tenant records will help your property management process.  As your property management processes change, you can improve your systems and records.