As a landlord, one of your biggest fears is property damage. No matter how great your tenant is, life happens and things break. From scratches and holes to leaks and cracks, a little bit of damage is almost guaranteed. Even so, there are a few simple steps that you can take to help prevent property damage. Below is a list of 5 measures you can take to minimize damage:
- Screen Tenants
- Create a Clear Lease
- Require a Security Deposit
- Perform Regular Inspections
- Establish a Strong Tenant-Landlord Relationship
#1 Screen Tenants
Performing adequate tenant screenings can have a significant impact on protecting your property from damage. A thorough screening will include credit report checks, past landlord checks, employer checks, and county-level criminal checks. Collecting recommendations from past landlords are crucial to the screening process because it allows you to eliminate prospective tenants that have a history of causing damage. Below is a list of red flags to look out for when screening a tenant:
- Previous damage to a rental property
- History of late payments or money owed to previous landlords
- Prior evictions
- Difficult application process
#2 Create a Clear Lease
Laying out exactly what you expect from a tenant will help guarantee that your wishes are met. Providing a clear and detailed lease agreement will do just that. Creating leases can be difficult, but templates are available to make the process easier. In the lease, establish what damages will lead to deductions from their security deposit. Make clear the state that you expect your property to be in upon their leaving. Because a lease is legally binding, tenants will be required to uphold their end of the agreement, which will help ensure that your property is well protected.
#3 Require a Security Deposit
One of the best ways to prevent loss of money is to threaten the same of your tenant. Security deposits are a great tool for reducing property damage for that very reason. Requiring a substantial security deposit not only ensures that you will be reimbursed for any damage sustained, it also reminds tenants that they have something to lose too. Security deposits are typically the same amount as one month’s rent — although some landlords choose to charge a little more to make sure their property is well kept.
#4 Perform Regular Inspections
The last thing you want is for a tenant to move out after their lease, only to find a year’s worth of damage that you hadn’t known about. In order to ensure that this doesn’t happen, perform regular inspections of your property, which starts before the tenant moves in. Make sure that each tenant starts their lease with a property at peak condition. This not only demonstrates to tenants how you expect the unit to look, it also shows that you value them and want them to have a good rental experience. You should then perform scheduled inspections. You can do them quarterly, bi-yearly, or yearly. When performing an inspection, test smoke detectors, check beneath sinks, replace furnace filters, look for obvious signs of damage, and ensure that the unit is being used appropriately.
#5 Establish a Strong Tenant-Landlord Relationship
As the old saying goes, you attract more bees with honey than vinegar. If you want a tenant to respect your property and treat it well, show them the same courtesy. When they put in requests, respond to them promptly. Offer a fair grace period for late payments. Remember special dates like birthdays and holidays. There are a lot of little things that landlords can do that show they care. These small gestures will create a strong relationship, encouraging tenants to keep your property in good condition.
With these 5 tips, you’ll sleep soundly at night knowing your property is being treated right. But just for good measure, here’s a 6th for you: adopt a system and stick to it. Whether that’s a set of rules that are primarily enforced through pen, paper, and phone calls, or a property management software platform that automates many of your processes, having a process and utilizing it is half the battle. These days there are a number of free property management software platforms to choose from. We recommend starting there!
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