Being a landlord means you’ll have to communicate with your tenants frequently about a range of topics, from repairs to rent notices. While phone calls may be easier, you’re leaving yourself open to disputes unless you communicate in writing.
When you must communicate something serious to your tenants, like a pay or quit notice or lease termination notice, not only must it be written properly, but you must deliver it by the appropriate process outlined by your state.
landlord Letter to Tenant
Written documentation is critical when you are communicating with tenants about terminating a lease or starting the eviction process. State laws require these notices to be done in writing, with variations from state to state on the details of the process. Landlords can lose disputes in court simply for failing to follow their state’s laws that outline the landlord/tenant communication process.
It’s also in your best interest to keep written documentation of other types of communication besides notices, such as conversations about landlord repairs, notices to enter the rental property and follow ups on lease violations. If you end up with a tenant dispute that goes to court, such as over a repair or a security deposit, your written notices are evidence showing your side of the story. Written notices also confirm dates, times and situations that may be hard to remember several weeks, months or years after the fact.
Proper Delivery of Letters to Tenant
In most states, there are three ways that you can officially leave written notice with a tenant.
1. Personal Delivery
You can hand the written communication to the tenant, either at the rental property or at the tenant’s workplace. Even if the tenant refuses to take the letter, you can leave it near him, such as on the front step or on his desk at work. Make a note of the delivery time and date on your copy of the notice
2. Substitute and Mail
You can leave the written communication with someone who lives with the tenant, such as another adult or an older teenager. Make a note of the deliver time and date on your copy of the notice, as well as the full name of who you left it with. That same day, you must send a copy via certified mail to the tenant’s address. Note the day on your copy.
3. Nail and Mail
If the previous methods don’t work, you can affix the written notice to the door of the property. That same day, send a copy via certified mail to the tenant’s address. Record all the steps on your copy of the notice.
Storing Tenant Notice Letters
If your written communication has to do with evictions, repairs, leases or disputes, it’s wise to keep copies in a folder in your office. Start a file for each one of your tenants and add to it as needed. You may never need the correspondence, but if you do, having written documentation of a tenant episode may just make things easier for you, in or out of court.