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When to throw out old paperwork?

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  • When to throw out old paperwork?

    Hello all,

    I was just trying to get a census on when managers start shredding old rental increases, old pre-liens and liens, old stuff. I keep all leases of course and current paperwork with autopay forms and change of addresses but I do not see the point in keeping old pre-liens, old rental increases (I am talking more than a year old), old autopay forms etc. I always keep change of addresses regardless. What is everyone's take? Some files look like the dictionary with so much old paperwork!

  • #2
    First are we talking about digital files or actual papers? I don't really plan on purging old client data online at this point.

    For old papers I keep it all for the same period of time. Here is my system (which has gone all digital lately but this is how it was before that)

    On my top tier of my filing cabinet I keep all current customers for a facility. Those files will stay there as long as they remain a tenant with all relevant paperwork in them.
    On my Second tier I have two sides, one has current year move outs, where I will move a clients files separated by month, on the other side I have the previous years 12 months of move outs.
    Once I year I box up the oldest set of move outs and put them into storage (luckily I know a guy with storage units)

    For regular legal cases statute of limitations is typically 2 years, though some cases can have that thrown out not many though.

    For tax purposes the IRS can look back 5 years.

    I keep everything for 10 years and often longer because I don't shred old files every year only every couple years. But when I shred stuff I always keep the last 10 years.

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    • #3
      Hey Randy,

      These are all current tenants. I just do not see the point of keeping old pre-liens and liens in their paper file that are 2 years old (for example) or old rental increases from 2012. That is definitely a great system you have!

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      • #4
        I have never shredded or disposed of any paperwork from any tenant, ever.

        We have tenants e-sign the lease agreement.
        There is a paper sign up form for the protection (insurance) that customer must sign at time of sign up for said protection.
        This paper will go into their file, corresponding with their unit number.

        I have a filing system and this is what we do.

        Tenant moves out?
        Physically check their units file/folder and pull all paperwork in the file.
        Staple it all together and put in another folder that says MOVE-OUT'S
        Daily deposit slips from the bank go in another file. DEPOSITS
        My daily U Haul paperwork another file. UHAUL CONTRACTS

        At the end of each month, these things get pulled and rubber-banded and will go in an empty paper box from Staples.
        Usually, I can get the entire years worth of these files in one paper box.
        End of the year the box gets its lid back and is labeled and put up for safe keeping.

        Good luck with your decision-making process.

        I think I heard a long time ago to hold paperwork for a minimum of 7 years.
        But don't quote me on that!
        Don't put off until tomorrow, what you can do today.

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        • #5
          For any current tenants that have been sent ANY of the following: lock cut notices, pre-lien notices, lien notices, any lease violation notices; all paperwork associated with those are kept attached to the lease. A few tenants have so many notices that I've had to give them their own folder to hold it all. I also keep address changes and autopay forms attached. I am in the middle of doing rate increases and all units done so far will have a copy of the notice attached to their lease for the remainder of their time here.
          Too many freaks, not enough circuses.

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          • #6
            Shred paperwork as you run out of room. I have tenant paperwork going back 20 years.
            "Never let the inmates run the asylum!"

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            • #7
              Originally posted by PleaseInformMe View Post
              Hey Randy,

              These are all current tenants. I just do not see the point of keeping old pre-liens and liens in their paper file that are 2 years old (for example) or old rental increases from 2012. That is definitely a great system you have!
              Preliens are computer generated for us and have no hand written information on them, so we retain them in a digital form and don't keep a paper record. Our lien paperwork is sent via certified mail, and I would never want to throw something like that away.

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              • #8
                You should keep current tenants paperwork until they're no longer a tenant. If needed you can add folders to keep older paperwork. After they move out then gather it all, staple (or rubberband) and store for up to 10 years. You would not believe how many times I've had to dig through old paperwork. Once I had a tenant who'd moved out years ago, come in and ask if we had his old contract because he needed proof that he'd lived at a previous address and had racked his brain for proof. We had it and a copy of his old driver's license with the address on it. You just never know.
                When I had all of my ducks in a row-I realized that most of them were not even mine!

                WA State

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                • #9
                  From a legal prospective what does keeping the paperwork do to protect the company? The paperwork is no longer a valid process once they paid for example. Rental increases have already been agreed to as proof of their payment over past and current months. In my opinion, its okay to have but I do not think it helps a company in a legal sense. Even copies of pre-liens and liens do not prove that the letter was actually sent or even a rental increase was sent. I think that sometimes we get too eager to save everything.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PleaseInformMe View Post
                    From a legal prospective what does keeping the paperwork do to protect the company? The paperwork is no longer a valid process once they paid for example. Rental increases have already been agreed to as proof of their payment over past and current months. In my opinion, its okay to have but I do not think it helps a company in a legal sense. Even copies of pre-liens and liens do not prove that the letter was actually sent or even a rental increase was sent. I think that sometimes we get too eager to save everything.
                    You can't look at this in a common sense perspective, yes what you have said makes perfect sense, and in a perfect world it would be fine. But I have had more than one frivolous lawsuit filed against me. People will lie about anything at all, and some obscure old piece of paperwork may be what is between you and proving he or she is lying.

                    Just keep the paperwork

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PleaseInformMe View Post
                      From a legal prospective what does keeping the paperwork do to protect the company? The paperwork is no longer a valid process once they paid for example. Rental increases have already been agreed to as proof of their payment over past and current months. In my opinion, its okay to have but I do not think it helps a company in a legal sense. Even copies of pre-liens and liens do not prove that the letter was actually sent or even a rental increase was sent. I think that sometimes we get too eager to save everything.
                      It's like your own paperwork-you should keep everything like taxes, mortgages, receipts for big ticket stuff forever, because you NEVER know what shenanigans a bank, the govt, an ex, etc. can pull. Same with self storage. I mean, you ~have~ storage, just store the darn stuff but use shelving, don't just throw it in there willy nilly.
                      When I had all of my ducks in a row-I realized that most of them were not even mine!

                      WA State

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                      • #12
                        ALL paperwork needs to be kept, not just for current customers, but for 10 years after the customer moves out. I confirmed this with an attorney at the ISS show last month.
                        MamaDuke

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by KrisinNC View Post
                          You should keep current tenants paperwork until they're no longer a tenant. If needed you can add folders to keep older paperwork. After they move out then gather it all, staple (or rubberband) and store for up to 10 years. You would not believe how many times I've had to dig through old paperwork. Once I had a tenant who'd moved out years ago, come in and ask if we had his old contract because he needed proof that he'd lived at a previous address and had racked his brain for proof. We had it and a copy of his old driver's license with the address on it. You just never know.
                          10 years? We only store previous tenant paperwork for 1 year then shred it. If it is Auction or collections paperwork, it's 7 years.We use Quikstor software and can look up a tenants vacate report as far back as 2015 ( when our company took over this location)
                          You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by wc1974 View Post

                            10 years? We only store previous tenant paperwork for 1 year then shred it. If it is Auction or collections paperwork, it's 7 years.We use Quikstor software and can look up a tenants vacate report as far back as 2015 ( when our company took over this location)
                            But our mgt com stores the pink copies we send every month for at least 7 years, I'd bet.
                            When I had all of my ducks in a row-I realized that most of them were not even mine!

                            WA State

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by KrisinNC View Post

                              But our mgt com stores the pink copies we send every month for at least 7 years, I'd bet.
                              Probably!
                              You Laugh, I laugh. You cry, I cry. You take my coffee...may God have mercy on your soul....

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