Property damage is inevitable. When tenants occupy your property, they are bound to leave their mark behind whether that’s through scratches on the floor, holes in the wall, and many more. In most cases, tenants will still leave the property with damages regardless of how stringent the lease agreement may be.
Many landlords are left with the responsibility of cleaning up the tenant’s mess, and this includes having to incur the expensive costs for repairs. While it’s unlikely that a tenant will intentionally destroy the property, damages are usually caused by their carelessness.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to protect your real estate investment from these “bad” tenants. We’ll go through each of them below.
How to Prevent Tenants from Damaging Your Property
#1 Require Large Security Deposits
Security deposits cover the expenses for repairs if there are property damages when the tenant moves out. Aside from reimbursing the property owner, the security deposit reminds renters to be responsible occupants. Asking tenants to leave a substantial security deposit can motivate them to take extra care of the property, while an insignificant amount won’t inspire them to keep the property in pristine condition. Tenants are more likely to treat the property as if it were their own if their finances are on the line.
#2 Prepare Clear Lease Agreements
Be as detailed as possible in your lease agreement. A clear lease agreement helps renters understand their responsibilities. As the landlord, you should indicate the dos and don’ts of the property. For instance, in some apartments, tenants are not allowed to drill holes into the wall, change the furniture, and so on. Since a rental agreement is legally binding, tenants are forced to take care of the property, which usually includes cleaning and repairing it before they move out. If you don’t know how to prepare a lease agreement, you should consider working with a property management firm or attorney.
#3 Conduct Proper Tenant Screening
Screening helps property owners predict whether a potential tenant will violate the lease agreement, cause serious property damage, and so on. Choosing tenants is not an easy task, however, landlords must be diligent when selecting the future occupants of their property.
Proper tenant screening involves reviewing their rental history — common red flags include evictions and a track record of late rental payments. It may be tempting to lease your property to the first applicant you can find. However, you should take the time to screen each prospective tenant, or else you may end up with one who will cost you thousands of dollars.
#4 Start with a Clean Property
Show your tenants how much you care about your property by giving them a clean home when they move in. A clean home sets the standard for your renters. If you give them a filthy unit that requires serious repairs, they’ll consider that to be the acceptable level of “cleanliness”. Before your new tenants move in, make sure that the property has been cleaned and repaired thoroughly. A property that is spotless from the very beginning will motivate renters to maintain the space.
#5 Develop a Good Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Building a healthy relationship with your tenants can encourage them to respect you and your property. Property maintenance will feel less like an obligation if your tenants consider you to be more than just the person who collects their rent. If you want your property to be in tip-top shape from the move-in to move-out day, it’s important to develop a positive connection with your tenants. It’s as simple as checking in to see if they’ve settled down well, or welcoming them to their new home with a gift basket.
#6 Conduct Move-in and Regular Inspections
It’s crucial to conduct a thorough inspection of the property when the tenant moves in. Be sure to document the process with photos, videos, and written reports — these will act as the baseline for your property’s condition. Likewise, you should also schedule regular property inspections. This will show your tenant that you’re serious about the upkeep of your property. It is also an opportunity to ask tenants to identify areas that need repairs so that you can act upon them immediately.
#7 Educate Your Tenants
Another way to prevent tenants from damaging your property is by educating them on the proper use of appliances, electronics, and more. A handful of renters will not be familiar with certain features in your home such as smart appliances like thermostats, speakers, and doorbells. Additionally, you should provide them with information on the proper care of surfaces. Some tenants, especially first-time renters and student tenants, might not know that certain cleaners can damage floors, countertops, and furniture.
#8 Consider Upgrading Your Property
If you have the budget, consider giving your property a complete makeover. Upgrade your flooring, appliances, plumbing system, countertops, etc. with more durable and low-maintenance materials that can help your property withstand long-term use. For instance, you might replace carpeted floors with tiles so that you won’t have to worry about tenants spilling wine. Similarly, you could also replace fabric sofas with leather sofas if you’re providing a fully furnished home.
#9 Keep an Eye on Long-Term Tenants
Many landlords believe that long-term tenants won’t cause property damage. The truth is that the longer the tenant occupies the property, the greater the wear and tear. Don’t be complacent when it comes to long-term tenants, even if they have proven to be responsible renters in the past. If you begin to show leniency, so will your tenant. It’s important to continue to regularly inspect the property and to stay on top of maintenance.
The Bottom Line
Landlords need to ensure that their tenants are responsible residents. By following the steps above, you can avoid the nightmarish scenario of walking into a completely trashed property at the end of the tenant’s lease. There’s no guarantee that your property will still look brand-new when tenants move out, but with these tips, you can at least minimize the damage.
Need a hand? Luxury Property Care can help you manage your tenants and ensure that your property is well-taken care of. Our professional property managers will take the responsibility off your shoulders — you won’t have to worry about a thing.