It is essential that landlords have a good system of record keeping.
A file should be kept for a property and then each time a new tenancy is given to a new tenant, a new file should be placed into the property file. The same structure could be kept for computer storage.
Under the Data Protection Act 1998, any landlord or agent who processes personal information electronically must be registered with the Information Commissioner.
‘Processing’ means doing any of the following with the information:
obtaining it; recording it; storing it; updating it; and sharing it.
‘Personal information’ means any detail about a living individual that can be used on its own, or with other data, to identify them.
Processing electronically includes (but not limited to):
smartphones digital cameras
call logging and recording systems credit card machines audio-visual capture storage systems CCTV systems
Registration is straightforward and inexpensive. To complete registration, visit the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) online at – https://ico.org.uk.
Nowadays many people store copies of tenancy agreements on their computer or in the ‘cloud’. Ensure any format they are being stored in will still exist in many years time (think 20 years plus). Although average lets are around 18 months, it is not too unusual to see a tenant stay in a property for 10 – 20 years. If you needed the tenancy agreement for possession in 15 years time, could you still open it? Is the cloud provider you were using still going to be in business then? It is always best to have a paper copy of important things such as tenancy agreements.
Although there are no guarantees, suitable formats that should survive include PDF or JPEG (or JPG).
A good rent accounting system should be used. There is nothing wrong with a simple spreadsheet such as Excel or Google Docs Spreadsheet.
There are other specialist software also available, but again ensure there is longevity.