Landlords must follow protocols and state-regulated procedures when managing one or multiple rental properties. Below, you’ll learn about the essential documents you’ll need to help navigate the rental process, from screening potential tenants, collecting a security deposit, drafting lease terms, and doing the final inspection.
New Jersey’s rental agreements and documents every landlord needs
When we think of property management, a prominent establishment managing multiple apartment buildings may come to mind. In truth, many landlords own a few investment properties and take on all aspects of managing a property. Whether you’re a property owner who rents one of your homes or multiple homes, you’ve likely learned that the work associated with renting to tenants can spill over into your personal life.
Your tenant may call you on the weekend while you’re with your family or during dinner time. If you rely on the rental payments to cover your mortgage on your rental property, late payments may infringe on your personal finances. The mounting nonpayment of rent can be a significant financial strain.
There’s also a common misconception that if you own the home, you can determine all of the rules. While this is true, there are still many local and federal laws all landlords must follow.
For instance, New Jersey has a Truth in Renting Act where the property manager must abide by landlord-tenant laws and notify the prospective tenant about flood risks, lead-based paint, or previous infestations related to the residential property or rental unit.
There are also protocols you must follow when visiting the rental property and during an eviction process. In this guide, we will review all of the essential documents you’ll need as a small-time landlord to manage your property efficiently.
Tenant screening, rental agreements, and inspections
The first order of business is finding a reliable tenant through tenant screening. Typically, this involves advertising the rental, meeting with multiple rental applicants, and handing out residential rental applications.
The application will ask for a prospective renter’s personal information, including:
Once the applicant gives written consent to do a background check, you have permission to get a tenant screening report. With SingleKey’s Tenant Report, landlords will receive:
- Income verification
- Any known disruptive behavior in previous rental properties
- Social media and online public record scans
The credit check will confirm the applicant’s identity and verify employment. Here is a sample credit check from SingleKey.
Holding deposit agreement
If the applicant is approved, they can either pay a non-refundable holding deposit (sometimes) or a refundable security deposit. A holding deposit is effective when the rental market is competitive. Here’s a template of a holding deposit agreement that landlords can use in New Jersey.
The lease agreement is given to the tenant before the move-in date. It is a binding contract between the landlord and the tenant. A standard lease defines all of the terms during the tenancy, including the monthly rent amount, due date, grace period, maintenance responsibilities, and other landlord-tenant laws.
As an example of maintenance responsibilities, most landlords will include lawn care and major appliance maintenance repairs in the rental contract.
There’s usually a five-day grace period to pay rent. After that, the landlord will charge a late fee and should outline the amount in the residential lease agreement. A lease exit date is included if the residential tenants are in a fixed-term lease.
Move-in/move-out inspection report
The move-in and move-out inspection report is essential in documenting property damage and normal wear. Suppose the renter occupies the apartment or home for several years. An inspection form will help eliminate the guesswork on whether any damage existed before the tenant moved into the rental.
Notice for tenants and essential landlord-tenant documents
Notice of intent to enter
In New Jersey, you must give the tenant a notice period stating that you will be visiting the premises or scheduling maintenance on the property. Landlords can text the tenants to inform them or give notice in writing. Ideally, provide the tenant 24-hour notice as a courtesy.
Rent increases are standard, and the laws vary in each state. There are no laws that control rent payment caps in New Jersey.
While the landlord cannot raise the rent during the tenancy, once the lease is up for renewal, a landlord can raise the rent, and there are no rent increase limits in New Jersey. A landlord should provide a 30-day notice to the tenant if they intend to raise the rent.
Lease renewals and lease terminations
When the lease expires, it’s wise to start preparing a 30-day notice for renewal and considering whether you plan to increase the rent. After a 12-month fixed lease is up in New Jersey, the lease automatically enters a month-to-month lease term.
Giving residents a one-month notice is mandatory for ending a month-to-month lease.
Grounds for eviction include failure to pay rent, disorderly conduct, property damage, or significant violation of the lease terms. When there are months of unpaid rent, the landlord can start the eviction process and serve a notice to vacate, also known as an eviction notice.
FAQ: New Jersey’s rental agreements and documents
A landlord must provide habitable living conditions for tenants and alert them of lead-based paint hazards in the dwelling units.
The security deposit should be fully refunded if there is no property damage beyond what was documented during the landlord and tenant move-in inspection. In New Jersey, renters also have a right to a habitable property. Lead-based paint hazards and other previous infestations should be listed in the lease terms.
Landlords should provide a notice when they intend to visit the property. The amount of late fees must be defined in the lease terms for late rent payments.
Yes. All rental property managers must register their rental.
Our final thoughts
Managing a property can be one of the most grueling jobs, depending on your organizational skills and your tenant. Learn how you can implement a fool-proof tenant screening method with an accurate tenant screening report.
This blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and is subject to change. It is not intended as legal advice. Consult your local laws and seek professional legal counsel before making any decision or taking any action based on this post.