There are a few must-dos before tenants move in. You'll need to have them sign a lease, set a move-in date, arrange to pick up the keys, and have the home cleaned beforehand, just to name a few.
One thing that you don't have to do, but is a very good habit to get into, is giving a tenant welcome letter after a new tenant signs their lease. Here's why it's so important to use tenant welcome letters, what your welcome letter should include, and a tenant welcome-letter template to use for your rental properties.
Why a tenant letter is so important
There are two main reasons that sending a welcome letter to all new tenants before they move in is a good idea.
First, a welcome letter helps to establish a friendly and constructive landlord-tenant relationship. A warmly-worded welcome letter can help make your tenants feel at home and can start their tenancy off on the right foot.
Second, and most important, a tenant welcome letter is an excellent opportunity to share valuable information with your tenants. Your welcome letter can let them know about expectations, rules, procedures, and valuable information about the neighborhood, all in a friendly and positive manner. It helps you establish that you're a helpful and accessible landlord and also minimizes questions your tenant might have after they move in.
What should you include in your tenant welcome letter?
Your tenant welcome letter is more than just pleasantries. It gives you a great opportunity to establish expectations and give your tenant some valuable information, but in a positive and friendly manner.
There's no set-in-stone guideline when it comes to information you should include in your tenant welcome letter, but here are a few things that could be important:
Address -- Most tenants know the house number (or apartment number) of the home they're moving to, but it might surprise you that many don't know the street address when they sign their lease. Providing the street address of the home (including the zip code) can be more useful to tenants than you might think.
Utility information -- While the lease they sign typically informs tenants of who is responsible for paying for what, it can be a smart idea to include some helpful information in your welcome letter. For example, if your tenants are expected to pay for electricity and water, let them know the names of the respective utility companies, as well as phone numbers and addresses for both.
Insurance -- This is another tidbit that’s usually covered in a lease, but it is helpful to reiterate that your insurance doesn't cover their personal belongings and that it's a smart idea for them to obtain their own renters insurance policy.
Keys -- Details about when and where your new tenants can pick up their keys and the return procedures for keys at the end of the lease. If there is a fee for lost keys, let them know up front, even if the same information is contained in the lease. Think of it this way: The goal is for the welcome letter to be a condensed version of the lease that the tenant can refer to for important information.
Move-in information -- When can your tenants move in? Can they simply show up first thing in the morning when their lease starts, or do you need time to have a deep clean performed? If they have a moving truck, where should it park? If you have a move-in checklist for tenants to fill out, include information about that as well.
Paying rent -- Let your tenants know when rent is due, when late fees will start to kick in, and where they can pay their rent. I'd steer clear of negative information like eviction procedures (your lease agreement likely covers this sufficiently), but it can be a good idea to let them know the amount of your late fee if rent isn't paid on time.
Maintenance and repairs -- A welcome letter is a good place to inform tenants of what they should do if they have any maintenance needs or if something breaks in the unit.
Garbage collection -- Let your tenants know what day of the week garbage and recycling are collected and where they should put their garbage cans.
Nearby amenities -- When writing a welcome letter, it's smart to assume that your tenant has no knowledge of the area surrounding your rental property. So it could be helpful to include information about the nearest grocery store and other such amenities. You can add a nice personal touch by recommending one of your favorite restaurants in the area.
How to get in touch -- One of the most frustrating things to a tenant is needing to get in touch with their landlord and not being able to find their contact information. So one of the most important things to include in a tenant welcome letter is your email address and phone number to make this easy.
Other information -- Some information won't apply to every rental property. Be sure to include items of specific importance to the property at hand. For example, if your property has a laundry room or if your tenants are required to park in a specific location, be sure to include things like these.
In a nutshell, a tenant welcome letter should be not only a welcoming and friendly document with useful information but also a reference guide to benefit your tenant as they get used to living in their new home.
When should you give your tenants a welcome letter?
The best time to give your tenants a welcome letter is just after they've signed their lease and before they've moved into the property. If you consider the information we've suggested including, most of this is important to know before the keys are actually handed over. A best practice would be to provide a welcome letter just after lease signing and to follow up by providing another copy after their move-in date, either in printed or emailed form.
It can also be a nice touch to include a welcome gift with your letter, essentially creating a tenant welcome package. It doesn't need to be anything big -- maybe a bag of locally-roasted coffee or some basic cleaning supplies to save them the trouble of buying them at the store. One of the main goals is to start the relationship on the right foot.
A tenant welcome letter template you can use
This may sound like quite a bit of ground to cover. So if you aren't a writer or simply don't feel like spending hours writing welcome letters to each new tenant, here's a tenant welcome-letter template you can use whenever you have new tenants. It contains all of the information suggested in the last section and more. Simply fill in the blanks according to the specific situation and delete any sections that don't apply.
To see how this might look all laid out, here's a tenant welcome letter from our partners at Avail. Like all templates, this is only a starting point and probably needs some customization. As such, we strongly encourage you to contact a real estate lawyer if you have questions about this template and whether it is right for you.
Millionacres does not, and cannot give legal, insurance, or tax advice. Any information we provide is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation that it is appropriate for you, or for any specific person. Millionacres and the writers will not be liable for any real estate decision you make, or action you take in reliance on any material you read here. Please see our Terms and Conditions for additional details, including a disclaimer of warranties and liabilities.
The Millionacres bottom line
Not only does a tenant welcome letter help you get off to a positive start with your new tenants, but it can also provide valuable information and put both parties on the same page when it comes to important topics like utilities, insurance, and general expectations.
To be perfectly clear, you don't have to give your tenants a welcome letter, but I strongly recommend doing so. Not only does it help establish the landlord-tenant relationship on the right foot, but it can significantly cut down on the volume of questions you'll have to answer later on.