When renting out a property, tenant damage is inevitable. That does not, however, mean that there is nothing you can do as a landlord to minimize its possible occurrence.
In the following article, we’ll take you through the steps you can take to lessen as much tenant damage risk as possible.
Tip #1: Have a tenant screening process in place.
A thorough tenant screening process will significantly minimize the chances of landing a problem tenant. As you screen them, remember to ask for references from previous landlords.
Call past landlords and ask them several questions, such as whether the tenant in question had caused excessive property damage on their units. If so, did they take any responsibility for their actions? If not, and they tried to hide what they did or blame someone else, then you are better off without them.
Besides checking a tenant’s rental history, your screening test should also make sure of other things, such as the tenant’s creditworthiness and rental income, as well as their criminal and employment background.
Tip #2: Have a solid lease or rental agreement in place.
Having a solid lease or rental agreement can also help protect your investment from potential issues with tenants. In the agreement, among other things, make sure to address behaviors that are likely to cause careless property damage.
Such behaviors may include smoking, burning candles, growing houseplants or refusing to notify you about required repairs.
Ideally, make sure that each tenant is aware of their maintenance responsibility before signing the lease. This may help minimize any misunderstanding or confusion later in the tenancy.
Tip #3: Be vigilant when a tenant moves in for the first time.
If you aren’t careful enough, your property could suffer costly dents and scratches when a tenant is moving items. Therefore, if possible, make sure you’re present to ensure that the move-in is slowed down and better planned.
Tip #4: Conduct regular inspections.
This is arguably the best way to safeguard your rental property against potential tenant damage. Routine inspections have a myriad of benefits and are a part of landlord duties.
For one, they help landlords identify any maintenance issues that are needed on the property. Two, they help ensure that a property is adhering to the relevant building, health and safety codes. And three, they help ensure that the property remains attractive to the tenant, thereby helping minimize tenant turnover.
From inspecting the doors and windows to the heating systems and lighting fixtures, make sure to check everything.
Generally, inspections fall into one of four types. These are the move-in inspection, seasonal inspection, drive-by inspection and move-out inspection. Excluding drive-by inspections, always make sure you notify your tenant of the same before accessing their property.
Tip #5: Invest in the right upgrades.
Units that require high maintenance tend to depreciate much faster. When making improvements to your property, consider replacing the appliances, countertops, flooring and window dressings with heavy-duty options.
For example, consider replacing the carpeting with wood or tile flooring.
Tip #6: Quickly fill your vacancies.
Every day your rental property sits vacant is money lost. What’s more, vacant rentals are at a much higher risk regarding theft and vandalism. The following are some things you could do to protect your vacant unit:
- Regularly visit the unit to check on it. Don’t simply drive by, but check the inside and outside.
- Secure all the entrances. You may also consider investing in an alarm system.
- Enlist the help of a neighbor.
- Go through your insurance. Does it offer protection to a vacant unit?
Tip #7: Choose your plants carefully.
Landscaping is, without a doubt, an important aspect of your property, whether it’s cutting energy costs or improving curb appeal. With that said, some plants attract pool water or pests, which can have devastating effects on your property. Do your plant research beforehand.
When planting trees, make sure you situate them strategically so as not to cause damage to underground systems. You must also pay attention to tree branches. Overgrown branches can cause significant damage to roofs, gutters and windows.
Tip #8: Pay special attention to long-term tenants.
As a landlord, it’s easy to assume that long-term tenants cause the least damage. This isn’t always true. Generally speaking, the longer a tenant rents a unit, the higher the risk of property damage.
As such, make sure to regularly conduct inspections, no matter how long a tenant rents the unit. Moreover, act on any maintenance issues immediately, as deferred maintenance can prove costly in the long-run.
Tip #9: Establish a good relationship with your tenant.
A healthy landlord-tenant relationship is the key to running a successful rental investment business. One way of establishing a solid relationship with your tenant is by being responsive. This ensures you can be depended on in making prompt repairs.
Another way is by being respectful. Before accessing a tenant’s unit, always make sure you notify them beforehand. Every tenant has a right to the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their rental home.
Different states have different requirements as to how early you must deliver notice to your tenant. Generally speaking, though, most states require landlords to serve their tenants at least a 24-hour notice before accessing the unit.
Tip #10: Always ask for a security deposit from your tenant.
This is perhaps the most basic defense you can have against potential tenant damages. The main purpose of a security deposit is to remind the tenant that they have a responsibility to care for the premises.
A security deposit gives them an incentive to care for the property. What’s more, security deposits are usual among landlord-tenant relations, so requiring one won’t make your unit less desirable.
These were our 10 proven tips on how you can prevent tenant damages to your rental property. If these steps feel daunting to take, then consider hiring a professional property management group. Cavalier Estates, LLC can help take care of your property for you. We pride ourselves on our simplified management plans and flat rates.