Conducting business with a handshake is a great approach in theory, but not in practice. Not only is the United States a very litigious country, but the simplest of conflicts can occur due to basic miscommunication.
Think of it as Insurance: You may have been able to conduct your rental property business for years without an incident, but if something ever goes wrong, written documents will prevail with an undeniable clarity.
Email Works: Much better than undocumented spoken words and short cryptic text messages, an archived email works just as good as a formally drafted/printed document and it’s easier to store.
Spare Yourself the Formalities: You don’t need to write in technical legalese. Instead, it can be a friendly message as long as you’re clear in expressing the reason for the communication.
Instruct Tenants to do the Same: Each tenant should be told to submit all questions, comments or concerns in writing. By establishing this policy up front, it reduces the risk of memory lapses and misunderstandings.
Handshakes are Still Good: Landlords are encouraged to maintain a “business casual” rapport with their tenants and engage in friendly conversations. Just be sure to recap any important discussions/agreements in writing.
No Regrets: While it may take a little extra time and effort, you’ll never regret documenting tenant communications, but you may regret not doing so the moment that unanticipated dispute actually happens.