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TOPIC: How long do you store old resident/prospect files?

How long do you store old resident/prospect files? 4 years 8 months ago #11211

Does anyone know the required amount of time to hang on to previous resident files, previous applicant files, lost prospect guest cards, etc.?

We've always stuck by the rule of 7 years, but would love to purge some if that's not the length of time required! :)

How long do you store old resident/prospect files? 4 years 8 months ago #11212

The law varies by state. We have to hold everything seven years.

I need to purge my file storage room though, I'm sure we have stuff in there that is even older than that.
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How long do you store old resident/prospect files? 4 years 8 months ago #11372


As an Expert Witness and career long property manager, the answer to your question is neither easy nor simple. There are two elements that must be considered: IRS and Fair Housing. The rule of thumb from the IRS is that you are responsible to produce records for 7 years. (Actually, 5 years, but must be able to produce 7 if requested......go figure.)

What muddles the issue comes from Fair Housing Regulations. To prove nondiscriminatory management practices requires producing records that record management actions over time. That time period has not been precisely defined, but is generally considered to be from the date the claim against you states discriminatory management practices began. Most likely it will claim from the date your management of the property began. Incidentally, there is no Statue of Limitations in Fair Housing claims. Case in point, I was retained by the US Department of Justice in a class action suit concerning disparate maintenance practices. Here, I was tasked with researching maintenance records going back to the date management began, which was circa mid ‘40’s! And they had the files!

Retaining records “for ever” is simply not practical unless you go digital; a scanning nightmare, but is practiced by many management entities.

To craft your policy, may I suggest as elements of your research to include a conversation with your local Fair Housing Commission and your legal counsel to understand their comfort level in defending a claim against you.

Phil Wayne, Forensic Expert
Philip B. Wayne Consultants, LLC
(402) 630-6224
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Last Edit: 4 years 8 months ago by Brent Williams.
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