The potential for property damage is a common apprehension among would-be landlords. While property damage is rarely intentional, tenants may ignore minor issues like small leaks. A seemingly trivial issue like that can cause major damage in the long run, making it imperative that landlords take preventative measures against property damage.
Start with Tenant Screening
You need to properly screen potential tenants.
Since property damage to rental units is usually caused by misuse and neglect, landlords should only allow responsible tenants to move in. Pay attention to your landlord references during the screening process. Ask current and former landlords if the tenant took good care of the home and if they received a full refund of their security deposit.
Collect a Reasonable Security Deposit
A tenant’s security deposit will help you repair any damage that’s left behind at the end of a lease term. It also provides an incentive for tenants to take care of the property. They want to get that deposit back, especially if it’s the equivalent of one month’s rent or more.
Provide Tenants with a Maintenance Checklist
Tenants will do a better job of maintaining the home when they know what is expected of them. You could discuss their responsibilities at the beginning of the tenancy and then reinforce what you need them to do with a maintenance checklist. Even well-meaning tenants can unintentionally cause damage to your property. Some of the things you can remind them about include:
- Changing air filters to prevent HVAC damages and to keep air conditioning bills low.
- Remembering to not overload washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
- Taking out the trash and cleaning the rental unit to prevent ants and roaches.
- Maintaining the lawn if applicable.
It’s also important that your tenants understand that you want them to report maintenance issues right away. Sometimes, tenants are afraid to submit repair requests because they’re afraid of rental increases or extra charges. Make sure they’re comfortable letting you know when things need to be fixed. Otherwise, the problems get larger and more expensive.
Monitor Property Condition
You don’t want to show up at the house every month to check things out. But, you do want to make sure it’s being maintained. Schedule one annual inspection or walk-through. It’s a good way to ensure your tenants are taking care of the property.
You can also take advantage of smart technologies and services such as automatic filter deliveries and moisture sensors. By placing moisture sensors in areas where water damage is likely to occur, landlords can be aware of moisture buildup and leaks without relying on tenants to notice and report them.
Good tenant screening, regular inspections, and excellent communication with your tenants will ensure there isn’t any expensive property damage left behind when they move out.
Preventing property damage to rental units requires work from both landlords and tenants, and hiring a professional property management company is also a good way to protect your investment a little more thoroughly. If you’d like to talk about how we can help, please contact us at McCaw Property Management.