Organize important papers

How to Organize Rental Property Paperwork | Organize Important papers

classification file folderWell, I know this may not seem like a big deal, but figuring out how to organize rental property paperwork can relieve a lot of stress. At one time I was responsible for nearly 150 units.  So, I had to organize important papers for the owners I managed for (and my own) in a way that I could easily access them at a moments notice. I’ll show you how I do it.

As you can imagine, having a good classification filing system is the only way you can manage several properties effectively. Your property management software is very good at keeping track of everything, but you will still be storing and accessing a lot of paperwork. The idea of setting up a physical filing system is to mirror the same filing system used in your property management software, which I will discuss next.

How to organize rental property paperwork

Property management software is set up in a hierarchy, with the owners account at the top, the property/units account next then the tenants account last. So your file cabinet will be set up the same way having an owners section with the owner files, the property/unit section with its file and the tenants section with their files.Owner Property Tenant Hierarchy

Now that you know about the different types of files a property manager or owner has to keep up with, Owner files, property files and tenant files, I will now go over all 3 categories and explain how to organize them.

How to organize owner filesHow to organize rental property paperwork

A single file is all that it takes to organize an owner file. Each owner gets their own file. You can use what they call pressboard classification files, which are simply a file folder with several tabs. Each tab has SafeShield fasteners to attach you paperwork in an secured fashion.

Since you have six tabs to work with you can organize your important papers any way you like. This is the way I do it;

  1. first tab is for the owners vital information, like Personal data, contact information and special instructions.
  2. Second tab is used for monthly and yearly owner reports
  3. Third tab is for a list of rental property owned by them which includes property addresses and other related details.
  4. Fourth tab is for the management contract.
  5. Fifth tab is used for payment stubs (where we paid to the owner)
  6. Sixth tab is used for miscellaneous notes.

Once the owner file is set up, we enter all the owner data into the property management software. When we are finished with data entry, we file it in the owners section of the file cabinet, alphabetized by owner last name.

How to organize property files

Property files also use the classification file folder, And again, you can set yours up any way you choose but this is how I do it;

  1. First tab we keep a copy of the title
  2. Second tab is used for a control sheet, which is a quick reference to all important information about that property, like location, insurance information, picture of the property, owner contact, number of bedrooms/baths and amenities.
  3. Third tab is for tax documents
  4. Fourth tab is for Insurance documents
  5. Fifth tab is for the mortgage paperwork.
  6.  Sixth tab is for individual unit income/expense reports.

After we set up the property/unit file, we input any important data in the property management software. Afterwards, we file it behind the owners file organized by street number.

How to organize tenant files

Manila Tenant File FolderFor a tenant file, we use a regular manila file folder. We set up our tenant file before we do the lease signing and we organize like it this;

To the inside left of the folder we staple a checklist of what we need to explain to the new tenant and check it off as we go. We also keep a copy of their application, lease agreement, pet agreement and a walk through checklist all neatly placed in the folder.

Once the signing of the lease is complete, we input the needed data into the property management software. Once data entry is done, we place the file in our active tenant file section alphabetized by last name. We only pull it out again if we need to update it with new leases, letters, or notices.

We also have an inactive tenant section in our filing cabinet for tenants that no longer reside in our properties. When they move out their file is simply moved over to the inactive tenant section. Of course we also move them to the inactive tenant file on our property management software as well.

Other files

Aside from Owner, property and tenant files, we also keep a separate file cabinet for the overall management business which includes, expense, income and miscellaneous general files.

Where to purchase Pressboard Classification Files

Here is a short video so you can see a little bit of information on these classification files.

You can purchase the manila folders almost anywhere, however the classification folders are mostly found at office supply stores. The cheapest place I’ve found to buy them is here on amazon. They are sold with 10 in each box.Two Hole Punch

If you’re from the UK you can get it now on Amazon UK

You will also need a two hole punch for your paperwork so it can be securely fastened into your classification folder which you can find here.

In Conclusion

Well, that’s the way we organize important papers in our office and it has been a real stress buster. I know you will find the way that works best for you.

I hope that you have found my post on how to organize rental property paperwork helpful. If you have any questions or comments and feel like leaving one below that would be awesome.

Comments (4)

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    150 units, that is a lot of properties to manage at once. That pressboard classification file looks like it works well in keeping files organized. These tips are great for others business owners and not just landlords. Why do you only use a manilla folder tenant files? Also, would you suggest similar folders for a small business owner?


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      Hi Melissa, I only manage the ones I own now, it’s a lot less complicated. Yes, I suppose the pressboard classification folder would work well for just about any business or even for organizing personal documents. The reason I use manila file folders for tenants is that it’s more economical since we’ve had literally hundreds of tenants over the years.


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    Great article! Thank you for sharing this information. I am a very organized person, everything is perfect in the right spots. Articles like that show me how I can be even more organized. Again, thanks a lot, you really helped me out!


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      I’m glad it helped, I know I would have been lost all those years without them.


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